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.
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.
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.
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.
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
($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.
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.