Tuesday, February 21, 2012

tasting the wines of Colaneri Estate Winery

Colaneri

Colaneri

Dan Rabinovitch, President of Azureau Wine Agency

Colaneri

Nick Colaneri

Colaneri

Andrej Lepinski, winemaker

Colaneri

Colaneri

The Wine Bar

The Wine Bar

The Wine Bar

Self-indulgent (see below) pieces aside, let's talk about wine. I was fortunate enough to be invited recently to a tasting hosted by Colaneri Estate Winery and Azureau Wine Agency, showcasing the entire Colaneri lineup. Presented by winemaker Andrej Lepinski, the wines are interesting for a number of reasons, most important of which is the style that they are made in. Colaneri wines are made using the appassimento process, a style associated with wine from the Veneto region of Italy. The harvested grapes are dried for concentration, making the resulting wines (called passito wines), richer with higher alcohols. The wines, depending on method, can be either sweet or dry. Colaneri produces both dry and sweet wines, the latter in the recioto style, and icewines (of course).

Nick Colaneri first gave us a bit of background on the winery. The Colaneri family has been in Niagara for decades, mostly growing table grapes and selling juice. In 1998, those were all pulled out and in 2000, the family replanted their vineyards completely with vinifera vines, with the intention of producing their own wines. Their first vintage was 2008, with Andrej leading the cellar team, producing Italian-style, appassimento-method wines. Andrej explained his approach to using this method as a way of concentrating the wines, but maintaining a degree of freshness and brightness of fruit, with controlled alcohol levels. As Niagara is not bound by traditional Veneto appassimento regulations (stating a 90 day drying period), they are able to achieve that balance through shorter drying times.

Andrej provided the most inspiring quote of the tasting - he said that even in the worst (quality) years, the wines have to be worth that money; in the best years, it's a bonus.

We tasted the whites first: 2009 riesling, 2010 pinot grigio, 2009 gew├╝rztraminer, and the 2009 chardonnay. The sweet white wines tasted were: 2010 chenin blanc (recioto), 2010 sauvignon blanc (recioto), and the 2010 gew├╝rztraminer (recioto). I only list the vintage and varietal here, as the wines each have proprietary names attached to them.

The reds showed the merits of using this type of winemaking style in a cool climate. We tasted: 2009 pinot noir, 2009 syrah, 2009 cabernet (50/50 cabernet sauvignon and franc, in the ripasso style), 2009 cabernet franc, 2009 red blend (1/3 each of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah), 2009 cabernet sauvignon (in the Amarone style).

The wines are certainly interesting, and quite a departure from what you would expect appassimento-style wines to be. They're looking for sort of a best-of-both-worlds type situation. where the wines have richness (and all that that entails), along with a freshness. The wines are certainly not shy of alcohol, with some (including the whites) pushing well past 15.5%. But in the best examples, the acidity is also extracted, which helps keep the wines from being fatiguing on the palate, and somewhat masks the alcohol.

This is a huge lineup of wines. They work with a lot of varietals, a lot of different winemaking styles - I counted 24 different wines in their brochure. Of the samples that we were shown, the reds were clearly the strengths of the portfolio. Good depth, varietal character, and acidity. Alcohols quite high in some, but the blends showed that expressive dry wines can be made with this method. The whites, in my opinion, were a little less consistent. A lot of off aromas, not much varietal character. Certainly a huge departure from that really transparent, linear style found in the best Niagara white wines (riesling, chardonnay, etc). The recioto wines are solid, simple, sweet wines.

Nick was kind enough to give me a bottle of the 2009 cabernet ripasso, to taste at home. My favourite wine of the tasting, and as it later showed, a really great way to be handling cabernet in a challenging Niagara vintage. Many thanks to Nick and Andrej for the tasting, as well as Dan and Alan of Azureau Wine Agency for putting it all together. The venue, Wine Bar, is an interesting little spot on the corner of Front and Church; the beef cheeks over mashed potatoes was especially good.

Please let me know if you'd like any more information, or tasting notes, of any of the wines listed above. A more in-depth examination of the 2009 cabernet ripasso, to follow.

DF

No comments:

Post a Comment