Saturday, September 12, 2015

CedarCreek's Icewine and friends

The 2014 white wines from CedarCreek Estate Winery are among Darryl Brooker’s final vintage at CedarCreek.

As has been reported before, he has now become the senior winemaker at Mission Hill Family Estate following the 2014 purchase of CedarCreek by Mission Hill proprietor Anthony von Mandl.

Darryl made five vintages at CedarCreek. He demonstrated astonishing versatility, making topnotch Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and excellent Bordeaux reds that included a Cabernet Sauvignon fermented in an amphora. His Pinot Noir Block 2 2012 was judged the best Canadian red wine in this spring’s Decanter Wine Awards.

With the current releases, he goes out on a high that even includes an Icewine, a dessert wine that CedarCreek has produced from time to time but not regularly.

Darryl is being succeeded at CedarCreek by Alexis Moore, a Nova Scotia native with an impressive résumé covering 16 vintages. She sent the last 10 years with a New Zealand winery, specializing in Pinot Noir.

Here are notes on the wines:

CedarCreek Gewürztraminer 2014 ($15.99 for 2,500 cases). The wine begins with aromas of orange marmalade, pineapple and ginger. On the palate, there are flavours of orange rind. The wine, with good weight on the palate, is balanced to finish dry. There is a hint of warmth from the alcohol on the finish. 89.

CedarCreek Pinot Gris 2014 ($17.79 for 7,220 cases). This is a textbook Pinot Gris. Its complexity benefits from the winemaker’s decision to barrel ferment 13% of the blend in new French oak (the rest is fermented in stainless steel). The barrel-fermented portion adds good mid-palate weight. The wine begins with citrus aromas, leading to flavours of citrus, green apple, pear and melon. The finish is crisp. A fine skein of minerality weaves through the wine. 91.

CedarCreek Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2014 ($22.90 for 460 cases). The winery has Riesling vines in its vineyard that now are 25 years old. In recent vintages, pains have been taken with that block to produce exceptional Riesling. The winery’s notes suggest that the aroma of this wine recalls lilies. It is a starting idea but I will agree with someone’s nose on that. When you dig beyond the blossoms, there are also notes of lemon; a year or two of bottle age will release classic notes of petrol. On the palate, there are flavours of lime mingled with minerality. The lively acidity is balanced exquisitely with residual sugar, with the result that the wine has a crisp and dry finish. By all means, cellar this wine for a few years. 92.

CedarCreek Platinum Viognier 2014 ($27.49 for 630 cases). The winery pulled out all the stops to make this wine. The ripe fruit (alcohol is 14.6%) was fermented for 35 days in three separate lots. One-third was fermented in a concrete egg, one-third in a foudre (large oak cask) and one third in neutral oak barrels. The consequence was three flavour components, all with good weight and texture, to blend into the final wine. The wine begins with aromas of honeysuckles, wild honey and apricot. On the palate, there are flavours of apricot that persist on the lingering finish. The wine has the almost imperceptible spine of tannin so typical of Viognier. That’s why the variety sometimes is called the white wine for red wine drinkers. 92.

CedarCreek Platinum Riesling Icewine ($52.99 for 220 cases of 500 ml bottles). The grapes for this wine were picked at -12C on the night of November 29, 2014. It took the winery three days of gentle pressure in a new basket press to extract the intensely sweet juice, which was then fermented in neutral French oak. Unusual for Icewine, it was also aged five months in neutral oak. The finished wine has 242 grams of sugar per litre balanced with a bracing acidity of 12.9 grams. (Some perspective: the Riesling has 8.2 grams of residual sugar and nine grams of acidity.)

The wine is packaged in a squat bottle with a reseal-able glass stopper. That is a good feature with an Icewine. You are unlikely to consume a bottle at a sitting. You can, in fact, have a glass and then leave the bottle in the fridge, dipping into it from time to time over the next few weeks or months. Icewine remains fresh for a long time.

This wine, lightly gold in colour, begins with intense aromas of honeyed, ripe pineapple. On the palate, there are rich flavours of ripe peaches and ripe pineapples. The bracing acidity keeps the wine bright, with a clean tang on a finish that persists forever. 95. 

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