Stone Castle is a winery from a region that’s new to me: Kosovo. The Balkan operation has been producing wines here in the Rahovec Valley since 1953, though many of its varietal choices tend to run toward offerings that American drinkers may find quite familiar. Let’s taste three new releases.
2018 Stone Castle Chardonnay Reserve – Unusual notes of green melon and burnt grass kick off this strange chardonnay, which quickly segues to intense notes of lavender and potpourri, neither of which I have ever connected to chardonnay. The wine becomes increasingly floral as it develops in glass, almost taking on a soapy quality on the finish. Fortunately there is ample lemony citrus to keep things in check — but it only gets you so far. B- / $20
2017 Stone Castle Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – Hearty and weighty with earth, this wine pulls no punches as it takes you down a road that exudes forest floor, roasted mushroom, and barbecued pork, all topped with sweet currant jam and a spray of green herbs. Thick with tannin plus a note of charred wood and toasted bread, the experience is daunting and tough… until you finally reach the cinnamon notes on the exotic, lingering finish. It’s an absolute must to pair this with a meal that can stand up to it. B / $20
2017 Stone Castle Gecaj Estate Owner’s Choice – The winery’s secondary name is more visible on this bottling, called “Gecaj Estate.” It’s a 50/50 blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot (aged in Hungarian oak) that could give Napa’s big boys a run for their money. Plump notes of plums, currants, blueberries, warming Christmas spices, and dark chocolate all give the wine an opulent opening, with note of graphite and gentle forest floor notes adding brooding, wintry nuance. The spice endures especially on the lengthy finish, where a touch of mint lingers on the fade-out. A / $80