La Castellada

Grower - Stefano and Matteo Bensa

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“It’s great to see the Bensa family making wines of such distinction from their hillside vineyards in the heart of Collio. Quality and consistency have both been on the rise over the last few years under the leadership of Stefano Bensa. The 2007s were macerated from 4 days to 2 months on the skins and aged predominantly in cask. Bensa describes 2007 as a year with an early harvest, much like 2001.” Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate. 

The property is run by Nicolo (father) and his sons Stefano (winemaker) & Matteo (vineyard) and is located in the small frazione of Oslavia just outside of the border town of Gorizia. This tiny enclave is home to some of Italy’s best and most legendary producers namely Josko Graver, Stanko Radikon & Dario Princic. The family owns 8 hectares of vineyards and leases another two, planted only on the back-breaking hills (most of Collio is flat!) for a total production of around 25 000 bottles per year. The Bensa’s purchased the property in 1959 in order to produce wine for the family’s inn and quickly realised that they had something special and it quickly turned into one of Italy’s benchmark producers. The family’s philosophy can be summed up in Nicolo’s words “I can best summarize my philosophy in a Slovenian phrase: ‘respect and appreciate all that surrounds you and you will be rewarded.’”  The vineyards are farmed organically with only copper and sulphur used as treatments and the vines are planted are densely planted at between 6000-8000 plants per hectare. The grapes are harvested by hand and carefully sorted in the vineyard ensuring only the best ripe grapes make it to the winery.

The family produce wines from the typical local varieties of Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Pinot Grigio as well Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Cabernet & Merlot. The winemaking is very simple; fermentation takes place spontaneously with ambient yeasts on skins for between 4 to 60 days in open fermenters. The wine is then transferred to old botte for two years where it completes its malolactic fermentation and then lightly sulphured. The wine is stirred monthly for around 1 year and then put in stainless steel for another year to freshen before bottling. Stefano showed us through the 2009 & 2010 wines is stainless steel and in barrel, this was a fascinating exercise as they are two very different vintages and the contrast between the two seems to highlight different characters in each variety. 

Region: Oslavia, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia
Country: Italy