Photo: Winemaker Taylor Whelan
CedarCreek latest release of four reds was accompanied by a
note from the new winemaker, Taylor Whelan.
Darryl Brooker, who would normally take credit for these
wines, moved in 2015 to become the head winemaker at Mission Hill Family
Winery. Mission Hill and CedarCreek now have common ownership, as is explained
on the CedarCreek website. I have reproduced the back story below.
But I think we can give Taylor a lot of credit for these
four wines. He was recruited to CedarCreek in 2012, to become assistant
Purchased in 1986,
CedarCreek released its first wines in 1987 and was one of the first 8 pioneering wineries of
BC. With four
generations of agricultural heritage and more than a quarter century of
experience, we have pursued perfection and produced some of the valley's best
wines resulting in CedarCreek being twice recognized as "Canada's Winery
of the Year". Today, we look proudly towards the future to further promote
The story of CedarCreek is
rooted in the vision of Senator Ross Fitzpatrick. Born and raised in the
Okanagan, he worked his way through university in the orchards and fruit
packing houses that dotted this beautiful valley. Although education and a
business career led him away from the Okanagan, the dreams of what the fertile
soil and climate of the valley could do were never washed from his soul. Years
later his success in business afforded him the opportunity to fulfill his
boyhood dreams by acquiring an orchard and small vineyard near Kelowna.
In 1988, just as he clenched
his first fistful of soil from his farm, the small wine industry in the
Okanagan was in danger of disappearing with the introduction of the North
American Free Trade Agreement. But in Ross Fitzpatrick's mind this uncertainty
presented the challenge to begin the renaissance of our grape and wine
At CedarCreek the hybrid
grapes gave way to new plantings of vinifera vines, the small basement cellar
was transformed into state of the art winemaking facilities and the very best
in viticulture was applied. This pioneering was tempered by patience and
perseverance which became his mantra. These ideals matured into CedarCreek's
philosophy: "Respect the land, honour tradition, pursue perfection."
In February of 2014 the
Fitzpatrick family announced the transfer of ownership of CedarCreek Estate
Winery to the von Mandl Family. With this, two of the region’s pioneering
winemaking families have come together with a shared vision for the Okanagan
Valley, one that will continue the Fitzpatrick family legacy for generations to
Our knowledge of the terroir
of the Okanagan and dedication to the craft have brought many awards and international
acclaim, to our winery and our region. We are committed to building on our
success by continuing to refine our approach to wine growing.
Here are notes on the wines.
CedarCreek Syrah 2014
($22.99 for 707 cases). This is the first Syrah from the winery’s Haynes Creek
vineyard near Osoyoos. The blend is actually 86% Syrah, 8% Malbec, 3% Viognier,
2% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The Malbec seems to have added a suggestion of
violets and blueberries to the aroma, along with the Syrah’s black cherry and
plum. The wine is firm on the palate with dark fruit flavours, punctuated with
a touch of black pepper on the finish. The polished texture reflects the 15
months the wine aged in oak. 90.
CedarCreek Platinum Desert
Ridge Merlot 2013
($37.99 for 540 cases). This 98% Merlot and 2% Cabernet
Sauvignon. Richly dark in colour, it has aromas of cassis with a suggestion of
spice. On the palate, it is full-bodied with exemplary concentration of fruit.
It has flavours of black currant and black cherry with a finish mingling oak
and black olives. The wine was aged in French oak for 22 months. The long ripe
tannins add to the elegance of the wine. 92.
CedarCreek Platinum Desert
Ridge Meritage 2013
($40.49 for 560 cases). This is 58% Cabernet, 22%
Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot and 6% Malbec. The wine was aged 22 months in French
oak. The wine begins with aromas of spicy dark fruit (the winery calls it fruitcake).
On the palate, the wine is firm with flavours of cassis and cedar mingled with
hints of tobacco and espresso. For immediate drinking, decanting is recommended.
However, the wine has the bones to improve with age over the next decade. 93.
Ridge Meritage 2014 Amphora Project
($60.99 for 410 bottles). This is 54%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc and 11% Malbec. The grapes were picked,
destemmed and about 500 kg went into an amphora, with no additions of sulphur
or acid, and left to ferment with wild yeast. The amphora was sealed and left
alone for nine months. Then the grapes were pressed by stomping them by foot.
The wine spent another eight weeks in a small stainless steel tank. The wine
was then bottle unfined and unfiltered. The result is a fleshy, chewy wine with cherry
aromas and with flavours of cherry and chocolate. The finish is bitter and,
with 14.9% alcohol, a touch hot.
I am not scoring this unusual wine because, frankly, I did
not like it. But every wine has its champion. Even at $61 plus tax, the wine –
released July 1 – is now sold out.