The Spanish wine region of Navarra is famous for its moscatel de grano menudo, and the benchmark producer of moscatel is Bodegas de Camilo Castilla in the town of Corella. Navarra is on the northeast of Rioja in the North of Spain, with a climate that is influenced by both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Corella is in the cooler subzone Ribera Baja in the south of Navarra.
The winery was founded in 1856 by Camilo Castilla, who had learned how to make wine in Bordeaux and then in the south of Spain. He realized the potential of moscatel de grano menudo in Navarra. This grape variety is considered to be the best muscat variety and is known under many names around the world, like muscat blanc à petit grains in France and moscato bianco in Italy. It has smaller berries and is more aromatic than the other wide-spread muscat, muscat of Alexandria. The winery has 50 ha (120 acres) of own vineyards.
Camilo Castilla make three styles of moscatel: dry, naturally sweet from late harvested grapes, and rancio: fortified and aged in an oxidized style. The first two are fermented and aged (briefly) in stainless steel.
The latter is aged in old large wooden casks for 2 years for the basic version (Goya), and 3 years for the house specialty (Capricho de Goya). The old casks are really old in this case, as some of them are still the original from 1856! Unlike new casks they do not give off any flavor to the wine, they just allow oxygen to get to the wine.
Before three years in the large wooden casks, the Capricho de Goya is aged in glass demijohns. These are handmade and are kept on terraces on top of the winery for three more years. They are out in the open so they are exposed to all types of weather including snow and sweltering summer heat. The demijohns aren’t emptied completely, but like in a solera system for sherry some is taken out when new wine is added, so it is a mixture of many vintages. You can see from the level in the demijohns that some of the wine evaporates, accounting for the alcohol by volume ending up at 15.5% even though the wine was fortified only to 15%.
After three years in the demijohns, and three years in large vats, the Capricho de Goya rests for another year in smaller oak barrels of 225-500 litres.
After touring the winery it was time to taste the wines. In the photo it is clear to see that the wines aged in oak become darker in color. The wines are sold under several names in different markets.
Camilo Castilla Blanco 2015, also known as Aroma, Montechisto Blanco or Blank
- 100% moscatel de grano menudo, dry, 12.5% ABV
- Color: very pale yellow with green flashes
- Nose: aromatic and fresh, peaches
- Taste: fresh and dry, clean
- Price at the winery: 4 euros (0.75 litre)
- Conclusion: good, ***1/2
Camilo Castilla Montecristo Dulce 2015, also known as Esencia
- 100% moscatel de grano menudo, late harvest sweet, 15% ABV
- Color: brilliant pale yellow
- Nose: aromatic, fruits and flowers
- Taste: very nicely balanced, both in sweetness/acidity and freshness/roundness, elegant and complex with a tiny bitter note that makes it more interesting
- Price at the winery: 7 euros (0.5 litre)
- Conclusion: delicious, ****1/2
Camilo Castilla Moscatel Goya
- 100% moscatel de grano menudo, fortified sweet, aged 2 years in wood, 15% ABV
- Color: dark amber
- Nose: caramel, dried figs
- Taste: sweet but balanced with good acidity
- Price at the winery: 4.35 euros (0.75 litre)
- Conclusion: good, ***
Camilo Castilla Capricho de Goya
- 100% moscatel de grano menudo, fortified sweet, aged 7 years in wood and glass demijohns, 15.5% ABV
- Color: deep mahogany
- Nose: very complex and powerful, dried fruits, nuts, alcohol, like PX or tawny port
- Taste: good acidity to balance the sweetness, surprisingly elegant, very long finish
- Price at the winery: 10.75 euros (0.5 litre)
- Conclusion: outstanding, *****
This was the first winery we visited during our wine tour through northern Spain, and I hope we will enjoy all of them as much. Gracias, Celina, for the tour.