RKS Wine: Smoke and Gamble’s Appassimento: My Grandmother Would be Mortified!

My late mother used to sing part of a song of which I do not know the name of but she did say she learnt it from my grandmother. The refrain was “lips that touch liquor will never touch mine”. Yes my grandmother was in the Temperance movement in Ontario. Grandmother would be mortified by not only wine but the other sins of smoking and gambling. The question is what decadence does this wine bring to the glass? Is it sinfully delicious? Nanny R was also a member of the Ontario Censor Board for films. God help a film that dared showed a breast!

It is garnet in colour. On the nose very dense and rich with black cherry, cassis, blackberry and blueberries. A vague resemblance to Late Bottled Vintage Port but this wine is higher toned. On the palate moderate tannins and very a long decadent finish. The fruit seems distant and builds like a tidal wave more than a tsunami. Full of blueberry, cherry pie, marshmallows, vanilla and a hint of milk chocolate. Consider this as a high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc on steroids. Hand me a pack of cards and a pack of smokes but first I should say this wine might be good for sipping for a glass but I think it really deserves the very best cut of beef or ox and you’ll have hit gold at the craps table not at a somewhat second-rate casino in Ontario but more of a Bellagio casino in the sin city of Las Vegas.

grapes on tray to be inserted into kiln
A kiln used for drying grapes at Smoke & Gamble

Now the price? A bit high at $49.95? Well, the quality is extremely high so why not splurge. You’d pay the same price for a bottle of entry level Champagne so why not transfer that thought of bubbly luxury to a bottle of this Smoke & Gamble wine?

Appassimento is an old Italian tradition of drying grapes naturally until they are shrivelled leaving a concentrated juice as compared to “regular wine” made with ripe grapes with more liquid juice so you are getting a concentrated and more intense wine with the appassimento method. And it results in a more expensive product as water in the wine is reduced. In this case the grapes are placed on a tray and placed in a kiln. A kiln you say? Well a kiln can be an entire building or a smaller shipping like container like structure. Kilns were used for tobacco drying years ago when Ontario was a big tobacco producer. The idea is that air circulation is constant created by fans that dries the grapes. Might I say you are drinking an Ontario Amarone?

spreading out grapes on tray for insertion into the kiln

By the way my grandmother might have been a stern old bird but she taught me to be a very mean Scrabble player that could rack up over 300 points in every game. And as to the sins of gambling, smoking and alcohol I respect her beliefs and I even agree with her about smoking and gambling but a life without wine is like doing San Quentin time.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with all ageing finished in French and American oak for close to five years.

(Smoke & Gamble 2015 VQA Appassimento, Dover Wines and Spirits, Norfolk, Ontario, $49.95, LCBO # 19933, 16.5%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 94/100). 

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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