Thursday, March 15, 2018

CedarCreek releases ultra-premium wines

Photo: CedarCreek estate vineyard in November, 2018

The excellent notes that CedarCreek prepares on its wine indicate that nearly all of these six wines were released last year.

However, the covering letter with the samples is dated early February, 2018. That suggests the wines might still be available in the wine shop, through the web site or in some restaurants.

The wine shop sales last year likely were a bit slow because of the disruption caused by construction. In fact, access to the shop was not as difficult as it looked from the road.

Construction involved building a totally new wine shop on the spot once occupied by a rambling cottage that, over the years, served as a winemaker’s residence, offices for the owners and, briefly, a guest house. (I spent a week there once with just a mouse to keep me company.)

The new wine shop and restaurant will be completed by this fall. “We’re elevating the wine country experience to a whole new level here at CedarCreek,” winemaker Taylor Whelan and general manager Scott Locke say in the covering letter. “In a lot of ways, we feel the winery is now catching up to the wine.”

It is worth noting that three of reds are from the 2014 vintage, so far still the best Okanagan vintage ever. The other vintages shown by these wines are none too shabby either.

Most of the fruit, if not all, for the reds comes from CedarCreek’s two Osoyoos vineyards – Desert Ridge, not far north of town, and Haynes Creek, just southeast of the town with a slope to Osoyoos Lake. Planted in the early 2000s, the vines are now mature and are producing top quality fruit.

The winery’s notes reveal that the winemaking is painstaking in its detail. For example, 10% of the Riesling was fermented with wild yeast in French oak, providing a portion of the blend that adds texture and mouth feel to the wine.

The centerpiece of this release would be the 2014 The Last Word. “Only a few times a decade, when nature conspires, does the opportunity for as truly remarkable wine reveal itself,” the winery’s notes say. The four varietals in the blend were co-fermented on the skins for 29 days in concrete and then aged 20 months in French oak.

The winery says the wine has “excellent tannin structure. Spicy dark fruit will evolve and intensify with age. Should peak 2024 to 2029.” The price – this is one of the most expensive wines yet from CedarCreek – tells you how much the winery esteems this wine.

Here are notes on the wines.

CedarCreek Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2016 ($23.99 for 341 cases). The wine is exquisitely balanced: racy acidity of 10.1 grams is offset with 14.8 grams of residual sugar. There is just 10.5% alcohol. Those numbers, however, tell us that this wine can be enjoyed now but will age through its 10th birthday. At this stage in its development, there is just a hint of petrol mingled with the citrus aromas and intense lemon and lime flavours. The bright acidity gives the wine a refreshing, tangy finish. 92.

CedarCreek The Senator Red 2015 ($17.49 for 2,335 cases). This is a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Syrah, 14% Merlot. The wine was aged 16 months in French oak. It begins with aromas of blackberry and cherry, leading to flavours of prune, figs, dark chocolate and coffee. The texture is firm. 89.

CedarCreek Estate Syrah 2015 ($24.49 for 603 cases). This wine, which is sold only at the winery and to the wine club, is made with grapes from the winery’s Haynes Creek Vineyard in Osoyoos. It begins with aromas of plum and fig along with a meaty note reminiscent of rare steak. That is echoed on the earthy palate, along with a note of black pepper. 90.

CedarCreek Platinum Desert Ridge Merlot 2014 ($49.99 for 1,102 cases). The winery’s Desert Ridge Vineyard north of Osoyoos includes 11 acres of Merlot and – to quote the winery “within them four distinct levels of refinement in the fruit.” The best fruit is hand-selected for this ultra-premium wine. It begins with lovely aromas of cassis, black cherry and vanilla (reflecting 20 months oak aging). The wine opens with flavours of cherry, black currant and blueberry. The long, ripe tannins give the wine a silken polish to the c0ncentrated texture. 92.

CedarCreek Platinum Desert Ridge Meritage 2014 ($49.99 for 1,150 cases). The blend is 53% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec and 9% Cabernet Franc. The wine, which was aged in French oak for 20 months, is bold and full-bodied. It begins with aromas of cassis and vanilla with a pronounced floral and perfumed Malbec aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry and plum. The Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend – CedarCreek grows a small-berried clone – gives this wine its intense colour and age-worthy structure. Decant the wine if you must drink it now or set it aside until 2025. 92- 94                                                                                                                                                                         

CedarCreek The Last Word 2014 ($85 for 390 cases). The blend is 34% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Malbec. The grapes were co-fermented in concrete and the wine was aged 20 months in French oak. It is a dark and concentrated wine with layers of fruit. It begins with aromas of blueberry, cherry and vanilla. On the palate, the wine is rich and deep, with layer after layer of dark red fruit revealing itself. The wine was double decanted to unlock the flavours. A better idea would be the lay the wine away at least for 10 years. 94.


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