Photo: Laughing Stock's David Enns
Once again, David and Cynthia Enns have looked to their
former careers in finance when naming Laughing Stock’s first Port-style wine.
Canadian wineries no longer use European wine nomenclature.
This fortified wine is called Dark Pool, and only those knowledgeable about
high finance know what that means.
David and Cynthia explain in a covering letter with the
wine. “One of the most secretive practices on Wall Street is the use of dark
pools, which are off-exchange platforms that let traders buy and sell stocks
anonymously,” they write. They say that this “under the radar” practice is
It is probably not a healthy practice for the public market
but, since Bernie Sanders won’t be the next president, I can’t see who will
shut it down.
Meanwhile, we have this wine. “David also kept his port
project under the radar (even from Cynthia) with a small lot of Merlot wine
that was quietly aged in two oak puncheons, sequestered in a corner of the
winery for over five years,” the explanation continues. “This once in a decade
wine project may or may not be repeated now, since the secret has been exposed.”
I can imagine what Cynthia might have said when she
discovered the project and brought her shrewd financial mind to bear on it. I can
almost hear her say: “You tied up how much capital for almost six years? And
you expect to get what sort of return at this price?”
In David’s defense, he made 2,450 cases of the winery’s
flagship wine and sells it at $45 (plus tax). That provides a good return and,
given the quality of the wine, a satisfying experience for consumers.
The wine is Portfolio, the initial example of the couple
using a financial term. This award winner is a favourite among wine collectors
because it can be aged at least 10 years. I was able to taste a vertical last
year and every vintage was drinking well except for 2003, the first Portfolio.
The third wine released this fall by Laughing Stock is a
Rhone white blend fermented in the two 500-litre clay amphorae the winery purchased
several years ago in Italy. “Originally used in ancient Greek and Roman days,”
the winery explains, “this approach embodies the artisan desire to make wines
more naturally with wild ferments and minimal intervention. We feel the
amphora-made wine exhibits a greater earthiness and complexity than if it had
been created in a stainless steel tank.”
Here are notes on the wines. Price do not include tax.
Amphora Viognier Roussanne 2015
($20.99 for 167 cases of 500 ml bottle.
Available only at the winery, this artisanal wine is made by fermented whole
bunches of grapes in two clay amphorae with native yeast. This is the third
year in which the winery has made a wine in this style. It has begun to acquire
a following. The wine was left on the skins for 5.5 months, compared with 2.5
months in 2014 and just five weeks in 2013. The 2015 is a richly-flavoured wine
with honeyed aromas of apricots and orange peel that are echoed in the flavour.
The finish is dry. Food pairing? I recommend hard Italian cheese. 91.
($44.99 for 2,450 cases). This is 49% Merlot, 28% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 1% Merlot. The wine was aged 19 months in French oak barrels (40% new, 60%
second fill). It is a big, robust wine (14.9% alcohol), reflecting the
excellent, if hot, 2014 vintage. It begins with aromas of cherry, blackberry
and spice, leading to flavours of black cherry, red and black currants and
mulberries. The finish is marked with savoury and spice notes. 94.
Laughing Stock Dark
($34.99 for 179 cases of 500 ml bottles). This is a fortified
Merlot that aged five years and eight months in 500-litre oak puncheons. In the
old days before wineries stopped using European nomenclature, this would have
been called Port. Dark in colour, it has aromas of fig, stewed cherries,
chocolate and oak leading to flavours of figs, dates and prunes with spicy oak
on a fruity finish. 91.