2012 can be defined as the very driest of recent vintages. After a rainless and very cold winter, little in the way of significant precipitation was to occur.
Spring bud break was favored by mild temperatures, with the exception of a few days around Easter when very low temperatures threatened significant frost damage.
From June on, the entire summer was marked, unusually, by very high temperatures and a total absence of rainfall.
During the last week of August, fortunately, a summer storm dropped a half an inch of rain, refreshing the air and allowed the late-ripening varieties typical of Orvieto to ripen properly and conserve freshness and aroma.
The adverse climatic conditions led to a loss of production caused by lack of water, more felt in areas where drop irrigation was not possible. The dry climate, however, led to a minimal use of sprays against vine diseases and, consequently, a viticulture with lessened environmental impact.
Attention to ripeness levels and a proper timeliness in picking operations assisted in harvesting perfectly ripe grapes with an excellent balance between sugars and acidity.
The grapes are sourced from proprietary vineyards of the Castello della Sala planted at 650-1300 feet (200-400 meters) above sea level on soils with marine fossils layered with clay. The grapes, picked during the night, are immediately chilled to maintain varietal character and then go into temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and macerate on their skins for several hours at 50° Fahrenheit (10° centigrade). The must then ferments in 60 gallon barrels of Allier and Tronçais oak and goes through a partial malolactic fermentation. Part of the wine remains in barrel while another goes immediately into stainless steel tanks after finishing its sugars and continues to age there on its lees until blending and bottling.
The first vintage of the Chardonnay Castello della Sala was the 1994. The Castello della Sala estate, purchased by Antinori in 1940, is located approximately 10 miles (18 kilometers) from the city of Orvieto. The castle is an interesting example of medieval military architecture and its micro-climate, rather cool, is an ideal one for white wine and Pinot Noir.
The wine is a brilliant yellow in color with greenish highlights and its nose features tropical fruit, particularly pineapple, along with notes of vanilla. Savory and mineral in flavor, it is soft and balanced with lightly oaky notes which blend harmoniously into the structure of the wine.
I vini di Veronelli