Photo: Winemaker Adrian Cassini
It has been one of those summers, filled with house guests,
monthly visits to the Okanagan and revision of one of my wine books.
In between all of this, I have tried to stay on top of wine
reviews – not always with the alacrity they deserve. I did not get down to all
of the wines from Cassini Cellars before several were sold out. Obviously,
Cassini fans need not wait on my reviews to snap these good wines.
Cassini is a well-located winery on Highway 97, midway between
Oliver and Osoyoos, which has developed a house style that has repeated now for
several years. Almost without exception, the wines are bold and packed with
The Cassini samples also included several verticals of the
winery’s leading reds, with the winery owner Adrian Cassini looking for
feedback on the cellaring potential of the wines.
The oldest wines were from the 2007 vintage. They are still
drinking well, but the fruit has begun to show signs of fading prematurely. The
problem, in my view, is that winery used synthetic closures in its initial
vintages. These are dubious closures when wines are designed for long term
aging. Even though I am told the current generation of synthetic closures are
much improved, I note that Adrian
returned to natural corks for his Collector’s Series reds in 2009. He also uses
screw cap for whites and rosé wines.
There is no reason why the Cassini reds, with good closures,
will not cellar well for at least a decade.
Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 ($19). This wine is an excellent example of a
typical Cassini wine: it is packed with fruit, beginning with aromas of pear
and apple and tasting of apples, peaches and passion fruit. The wine has good
length and a long, crisp finish. 90.
Chardonnay Reserve 2009 ($29 for 375 cases). The wine presents an appealing
gold hue in the glass, along with buttery aromas of peach and tangerine. The
generous palate has flavours of peach, ripe apple, tangerine, vanilla and
spice, all framed by subtle oak. The wine has a synthetic cork and should be
consumed now, when it is at its peak. 92.
Gewürztraminer Muscat 2011
($19 for 611 cases). The blend includes just
seven percent Muscat
but that is enough to give this swaggering wine spice orange peel aromas and
flavours of fine Scots marmalade, with raisins on the off-dry finish. 91.
Cassini Cellars Rosé
($19 for 444 cases). This is an exuberantly fruity rosé with aromas
and flavours of cherries, raspberries and strawberries, with a long finish. It
is an unconventional blend - Cabernet
Franc, Merlot, Marsanne and Roussanne – but no less delicious for that. 89.
Merlot 2011 ($19 for 1,340 cases). Here is a ripe and powerful Merlot, with
aromas of spice and red fruit and with flavours of black currant, black cherry
and vanilla with a hint of sage on the finish. The rich favours go on and on.
Cassini Cellars Pinot
Noir Reserve 2010 ($N.A.). This is a pretty wine with strawberry aromas
leaping from the glass. The silky palate has flavours of strawberry and cherry.
Quattro Rosso 2010 ($29 for 608 cases). This is a blend of 67% Merlot, 21%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 1% Syrah. It begins with aromas of
plum, vanilla and leather, leading to spicy flavours of plum, mocha, coffee and
vanilla. The tannins are still firm, making this a good candidate for
Collector’s Series Syrah 2007: The wine begins with a hint of white pepper
and dark fruit on the nose, leading to flavours of plum and chocolate. The wine
is tasty but clearly has peaked. 88.
Collector’s Series Syrah 2008: The wine begins with earthy, peppery aromas;
flavours of plum, liquorice and chocolate with pepper on the finish. This wine
is at its peak. 90.
Collector’s Series Syrah 2009: The wine begins with complex aromas of
spice, smokiness and plum. On the palate, there are layers of fruit – black
cherry and black currant – turbocharged with black pepper, liquorice and vanilla
on the long finish. 91.
Cassini Cellars Collector’s
Series Syrah 2010: ($29 for 550 cases). This wine begins with aromas of
vanilla, liquorice and plum. On the palate, there is a nice peppery bite that
gives way to red fruit and vanilla on the palate. The soft ripe tannins mingle
with the earthy, gamy flavours of the variety. The finish is long. 90.
Cassini Cellars Syrah
2007: ($NA). This wine has held its bold, fruity flavours better that its
big brother in spite of a synthetic cork. The wine still had a core of earthy
black cherry flavours. 90.
Cassini Cellars Syrah
2008: ($NA). This is a gamey, even rustic, Syrah, with aromas and flavours
of pepper, black cherry and plum. The muscular earthiness of this wine, with
14.8% alcohol, is satisfying. 90.
Cassini Cellars Syrah
2009: ($NA). This begins with a smoky, peppery aroma with plum and black
cherry flavours along with earthy and gamey notes. The long ripe tannins
contribute to the wine’s bold, generous finish. 91.
Maximus 2007: ($34). This is the winery’s top of the line Bordeaux blend. There are flavours of black
currant, coffee and vanilla but the fruit seems to be drying out, leaving a
slight bitterness. Even with a decorative wax seal on top of the closure, the
synthetic closure seems not to be doing the job. 88.
Maximus 2008: ($34). This wine, also closed with a synthetic cork, is still
full of aromas and flavours of pepper, black currant, vanilla, coffee and dark
chocolate. The blend is 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 6% Malbec. The
wine has a firm, muscular structure. 90.
Maximus 2009: ($34). This wine, closed with natural cork, is 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 12%
Cabernet Franc and one per cent Malbec. It begins aromas of vanilla, black
cherry and black currant. Rich and ripe on the palate, it delivers flavours of
cassis, mulberry, and blueberry, with a touch of cedar and spice on the finish.
This wine will age very well. 92.