Castello Banfi brought its message of marrying innovation and tradition to the heart of another famous winemaking region, as Colvecchio, Cum Laude and SummuS take the stage at Napa Valley’s COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.
The Montalcino producer appears as Winery of the Week for November 8-14, showing its three estate wines made with Syrah to highlight the center’s variety of the month. Castello Banfi Wine Educator Bill Whiting kicks off the complimentary tastings (included with admission) by pouring at the Wine Spectator Tasting Table on Saturday, November 8, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., and other Banfi representatives will be on hand throughout the rest of the week.
Syrah, one of the great red varieties of the world, produces deep-colored and distinctly elegant wines. Although very little Syrah is produced in Italy, the vines grow to perfection within a single vineyard high on the hillsides of Castello Banfi's Montalcino estate. Here, the temperate climate, marked by warm days and cool nights, and nutrient-enriched soil provide optimal growing conditions.
Colvecchio is a single vineyard, 100% Syrah that is aged in barriques of French oak for one year and refined in bottle for an additional year before release. It is an intensely violet-colored red wine with a bouquet and taste that hint of white pepper and chocolate. A well-rounded and harmonious wine that offers great richness and depth, Colvecchio Syrah is perfect with veal, pork, red meats and cheeses. Wine & Spirits Magazine described it as “a textbook Syrah… a wine absolutely true to the highest standards of its type.” Our Syrah thrived in the higher than average temperatures of the 1999 growing season, nourished off the hydric reserves of the rich clay soil in this vineyard.
Cum Laude is the newest Montalcino Super Tuscan from Castello Banfi, blending 15% Syrah with 25% of Banfi’s clonal selection of Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Merlot. Each variety is individually vinified and aged 14 months in French oak barrique to develop its unique style, then masterfully interwoven with the others to achieve an elegant bouquet and full, round flavor Cum Laude is characterized by a rich color and soft, ripe fruit flavors. The wine is complex, with aromas of juicy berries and spicy cherries, as well as clove, anise and black pepper – hallmark influences of Syrah, even though it is the minority in the blend. As a full-bodied red with dense tannins, Cum Laude marries well with all red meats, hearty stews, pasta dishes and cheeses. The 2000 vintage was a challenge due to sweltering summer temperatures, but Castello Banfi winemakers responded by harvesting earlier in the season than usual and doing much of the picking in the early-morning hours. Vinification was also modified to reduce the period of alcoholic fermentation in order to maintain soft tannins. Wine critic Andrea Immer, writing for Esquire magazine, said that Cum Laude “blends the best traits of the local Brunello grape with Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah,” and noted its “gorgeous texture, rich dark fruit, and a spicy scent.”
SummuS was Castello Banfi’s original Montalcino Super Tuscan cuvee. While its 40% Sangiovese gives structure and its 40% Cabernet Sauvignon provides body, the 20% Syrah imparts spice, character and elegance. “Blending with Syrah is like using nutmeg,” says Cristina Mariani May, family proprietor of Castello Banfi. “A little bit goes a long way.” In fact, previous vintages of SummuS used only 15% Syrah, but Ms. Mariani-May and her winemakers decided to increase its weight because 1999 “without a doubt produced the most complete and expressive Syrah in the history of its production at the Castello Banfi estate.” As with the Cum Laude, the varietal wines are aged in barrique separately for a year and for nine more months as a blend. Additional 14 -16 months of bottle-aging brings forth a fragrant bouquet of fruit, oak and spice. Characterized by a rich color and lively dance of ripe soft-fruit flavors, SummuS marries well with all red meats, stews, rich pasta dishes and cheeses. Wine Spectator magazine called SummuS “a masterpiece,” and described it as “a marvelously crafted red with gorgeous aromas, lovely fruit and caressing tannins."
COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts is a cultural museum and educational center dedicated to exploring the distinctively American contribution to the character of wine and food in close association with the arts and humanities, and to celebrating these as a unique expression of the vitality of American life, culture and heritage.