Friday, October 2, 2015

Cassini's jeroboam is a really big wine

Photo: a six-litre jeroboam of Maximus 

The wines of Cassini Cellars, which only opened in 2009, have developed a distinctive house style.

The wines are bold and ripe, usually with alcohol of 14% or better but with such excellent balance that there is no heat on the finish. The reds now all spend close to two years in oak, with the result that the tannins have become silky. The reds are drinkable on release but clearly are age-worthy.

Owner Adrian Cassini has underlined the longevity of this reds by releasing some of the muscular Maximus blend in large formats – 500 magnums, 30 double magnums and 30 jeroboams (with six litres of wine in each). Wines age much more gracefully in larger bottles.

The Jeroboam, which comes with a wooden crate so that it can be handled, will sell for $350. The double magnums are $170 and the magnums, which come in wood boxes, are $99. None are released yet but when they are, most, if not all, will be sold in the Cassini wine shop.

(Jeroboam was a particularly fractious Israeli king about 900 B.C. and hardly an obvious person after whom to name a really big wine bottle.)

All of these are award winning wines. One of the most awarded is the 2012 Cabernet Franc: double gold at the All Canadian Wine Championships, gold at Intervin and a 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence. Grown on the estate, the variety is getting an ever higher profile at Cassini.

Adrian also ages his reds in barrel for 20 to 24 months which achieves long and polished tannins in the wines. He has now added a new warehouse behind the winery for case storage. The intent is to age the reds at least a year in bottle before releasing them.

There is a cost to tying up capital in wine for three years. If that is reflected in the price of the wines, the payoff should be in quality. I think it is there.

Here are notes on the wines.

Cassini Reserve Chardonnay 2013 ($25 for 320 cases). Lightly gold in hue, the wine begins with assertive aromas of tropical fruit and vanilla. The wine is generous on the palate, with flavours of apples, vanilla and oak. The acidity keeps the wine lively and refreshing. The finish is so persistent that you could time it with a stop watch. 92.

Cassini Roussanne Marsanne 2013 ($25 for 200 cases). This is 60% Roussanne and 40% Marsanne, both white Rhone varieties not yet widely grown in the Okanagan. This is a complex wine, with honeyed aromas of herbs and tropical fruit. On the palate, there are flavours of apricot and orange zest. It is dry with a good spine of minerality. 90.

Cassini Viognier 2014 ($19 for 450 cases). The wine begins with floral aromas recalling lilac blossoms, along with aromas of pear and grapefruit. There are flavours of apple, pineapple and apricot. There is good mid-palate weight with a light elegance and crispness to the refreshing finish. 91.

Cassini Quattro 2012 Collector’s Edition ($28 for 1,800 cases). This is 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 26% Syrah and 3% Cabernet Franc. It begins with aromas of black cherry and chocolate. As the wine opens – decanting is suggested – it reveals a core of sweet berry flavours including black cherry, plum and cassis. There is a touch is espresso on the lingering finish, along with a hint of pepper. 91.

Cassini The Aristocrat 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($40 for 180 cases). Dark in color, the wine begins with aromas of vanilla, black cherry and mocha. On the palate there are flavours of black currant, black cherry and Christmas spices. The ripe tannins give this wine a rich and polished texture. The finish is persistent and delicious. An excellent example of well grown Okanagan Cabernet in a good year. The grapes are from an Osoyoos East Bench vineyard. 92-94.

Cassini Cabernet Franc 2012 Collector’s Edition ($32 for 220 cases). Here is a bold and ripe Cabernet Franc with 14.7% alcohol. The aroma is exquisite – blackberries, raspberries and cassis – and those are echoed in the flavours, along with notes of tobacco, leather and pepper. The tannins are supple and ripe, giving the wine a rich texture. There is a hint of cigar box on the long finish. 92.

Cassini Maximus 2012 Collector’s Edition ($34 for 700 cases). The winery also has bottled 500 magnums of this Meritage. The blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The wine has aromas of cassis and black cherry. The wine presents a polished texture of silky tannins, with intense flavours of cassis, cherry, blueberry, vanilla and cocoa. 92.

Cassini Nobilus 2011 Grand Reserve ($39 for 110 cases). This is 100% Merlot. It is a concentrated wine with a firm texture; the wine benefits considerably with decanting, which reveals a rich texture. There are aromas of black currant, plum and cedar. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant, plum, black olives and dark coffee, with a slightly earthy finish. A very complex wine. 90-92.

Cassini Cellars The Godfather 2011 ($70 for 150 cases). This is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc. This is a remarkably ripe wine for a cool vintage. The Cabernet Sauvignon expresses a core of sweet fruit including black currant and cherry. The flavours also include dark chocolate and coffee. The texture is firm and the wine should be decanted. Even better, it should be cellared a few more years. This wine will easily live for 15 years.

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