Monday, August 11, 2014

The Godfather and other Cassini treats

Photo: Adrian Cassini

The summer releases from Cassini Cellars comprise a strong line-up, capped by the first release of The Godfather. This $70 red is built to become the winery’s icon wine.

Adrian Cassini, who opened this winery in 2009, has a notebook in which he regularly jots down ideas for wine names. When the winery’s first icon wine was getting close to bottling, he thumbed through his book and found “Godfather.” It was clearly the right name for a wine which makes a statement. “It’s big,” he says. “I want a full-bodied wine. I want a steel fist in a velvet glove.”

The Godfather was launched by putting his best wines in French oak barrel for 23 months and then selecting the six best barrels. The prolonged barrel aging (Maximus gets only 14 months) makes The Godfather even bigger. About 10% of the volume is lost to evaporation. This is what winemakers call the angel’s share.

The four varietals in the 2010 The Godfather all play a role in the blend. “The Cabernet Sauvignon creates the pillar,” Adrian says. “The Merlot and the Cabernet Franc are the mid-palate and Syrah is the glue of the whole blend.” Adrian stress that the wine is not made to a recipe. “I want people to look forward to what I come up with the next year,” he says. “It is always going to be good. We are dancing a little bit with the varietals.”

Here are notes on the wines.

Cassini Cellars The Godfather 2010 ($70 for 120 cases). This is a blend of             33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 17% Syrah. For this bold and elegant wine, I defer to the winery’s notes: “Nice integration of oak and dark fruit flavours like cherry, black currant and plums gives this wine a rich and complex taste with silky tannins to round out the wine to enjoy now or put down for years to come. Drink now to 2020.” My score: 92-94.

Cassini Cellars  Nobilus 2011 Grand Reserve ($39 for 125 cases). This is a Merlot. Dark in colour, it begins with aromas of black cherry, vanilla and black currant which are echoed in the flavours. There is appealing spice on the finish. The texture is firm, suggesting that this wine will age superbly for another five to seven years. 88-90.

Cassini Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($40 for 125 cases). The winery  also calls this an “iron fist in a velvet glove,” meaning that the long ripe tannins enclose a wine with a lot of power. The aroma appeals with notes of cassis, black cherry, vanilla and spice. The generous palate delivers flavours of black currant, black cherry and vanilla, finishing with hints of spice and mint. For a Cabernet from a cooler vintage, there is not a trace of green flavours in this ripe and totally delicious wine. 92.

Cassini Cellars Cabernet Franc 2011 Collector’s Series ($29 for 400 cases). This is a surprisingly ripe wine (13.1% alcohol) for a cool year. Dark in colour, it begins with aromas of blackberry, with a touch of raspberry and cherry. On the palate, there are vibrant flavours of blackberry, black currant and cola, with a spicy finish. The wine has long ripe tannins. 90.

Cassini Cellars Syrah 2011 Grand Reserve ($N/A). The unfiltered Syrah begins with aromas of white pepper, plum and black cherry. The complex and brooding flavours include plum, prune, espresso coffee and black chocolate, with a touch of pepper and earthiness on the finish. 90.

Cassini Cellars Chardonnay Reserve 2012 ($25 for 225 cases). This is a rich and ripe Chardonnay (14.6% alcohol). It begins with aromas of mandarin and subtle oak. On the palate, there are honeyed flavours of mandarin, ripe mango and butterscotch. Even with a full-bore barrel and malolactic treatment, enough acidity remains to leave a tangy note on the long finish. 90.

Cassini Cellars Viognier Marsanne Roussanne 2012. ($25 for 225 cases). A few years ago, the winery bought a nearby vineyard from Inniskillin Okanagan for growing Rhone varietals. Judging from this wine, it was a brilliant idea. Here is a wine with aromas of honey, tangerine and ripe apricot. Rich and even unctuous on the palate, the wine delivers a glorious basket of tropical flavours, including tangerine, guava, papaya and apricot. 91.

Cassini Cellars 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.

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