Wednesday, October 5, 2016

CedarCreek's premium Bordeaux and Rhone reds

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 winemaker.

Here is the back story.

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 our region.

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 industry.
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 come.
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.

CedarCreek Desert 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.


At October 7, 2016 at 6:48 PM , Blogger Keith Schaefer said...

John, thank you for your honesty! I love discerning write-ups.

At October 12, 2016 at 10:40 AM , Blogger CedarCreek Estate Winery said...

John, thank you for your detailed reviews as usual. We enjoy hearing from an industry veteran his true thoughts on our wines. We appreciate your on going support. As you mention, every wine has it champion, the Amphora definitely has found its audience.- CedarCreek.


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