Tuesday, April 16, 2019

CedarCreek navigates the 2018 vintage





Photo: Winemaker Taylor Whelan


Taylor Whelan, the winemaker at CedarCreek Estate Winery, had some timely help from Mother Nature in dealing with the 2018 vintage.

It shows in the crisp and clean 2018 wines just released by the winery.

The year began with above average growing degree days in the spring which triggered early budbreak. Just when it looked like the vines were motoring along to ripening prematurely, smoke from distant forest fires  screened a good deal of sunlight in August.

The impact was significant. The total growing degree days in August, 2019, were as low as the growing degree days in August, 2010, which was one of the coolest years in the Okanagan in several decades.

Ripening slowed down in August. Then the smoke lifted. The vines were bathed in sunlight through a long Indian Summer that brought the vintage to a perfect closure. The grapes came into the wineries with good acidity, thanks to the cool August, but with good ripeness and flavours, thanks to the long autumn.

The results are in the glass. Here are notes on five CedarCreek releases from 2018 and one from 2017. The score on the Riesling is a bit fudged because, as is so often the case with a young Riesling, the wine is still developing in the bottle.

CedarCreek Gewurztraminer 2018 ($18.99 for 1,276 cases). The wine opens up with aromas of pear and grapefruit mingled with herbs. A light touch of residual sugar rounds out the fleshy texture and the flavours of Asian pear. The herbal notes translate to a spicy and herbal finish. 9o.

CedarCreek Pinot Gris 2018 ($18.99 for 7,496 cases). There is a big mouthful of ripe fruit here. The wine begins with aromas of pear and apple. Those fruits are echoed on the generous palate. The finish lingers. 90.

CedarCreek Riesling 2018 ($18.99 for 1,615 cases). This wine has just 10% alcohol, reflecting the approach to Riesling taken by CedarCreek over recent vintages. The wine also has 20.6 grams of residual sugar and 10.7 grams of acid – a balance that gives the wine great ability to age. It begins with aromas of lime and lemon. On the palate, it shows intense flavours of grapefruit along with bracing acidity. Cellar this at least for a year. 90-92.

CedarCreek Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 ($18.99 for 870 cases). The wine is a delicate salmon pink, with aromas of strawberry and flavours of raspberry. The body is light but the wine has a lovely elegant finish. 90.

CedarCreek Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($18.99 for 872 cases). The wine is fermented 90% in stainless steel, 10% in concrete. Fermentation involves co-inoculations with two yeast strains intended to produce a zesty Sauvignon Blanc in the style of New Zealand’s Marlborough wines. The strategy was successful. The wine begins with aromas of lime and gooseberry mingled with herbal notes. These are all echoed on the palate, with good intensity. The finish is crisp and dry. 92.

CedarCreek Chardonnay 2017 ($18.99 for 1,391 cases). This wine was fermented with natural yeast in French oak barrels and foudres. A light note of vanilla and cloves greets the nose. The palate is rich, with flavours of citrus mingled with butter. 90.

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