Photo: CedarCreek winemaker Taylor Whelan
CedarCreek Estate Winery has, as usual, enjoyed a strong run of awards this year, capped with being named “Winery of the Year” at the 2019 InterVin Wine Competition.
Two of its current releases (reviewed below) won gold medals: the 2017 Platinum Haynes Creek Syrah and the 2018 Platinum Block 3 Riesling.
This reflects well on the skills of winemaker Taylor Whelan. It also reflects on the winery’s efforts to identify the superior sites in its vineyards. The wines from these sites often are designated “Platinum,” the reserve tag for CedarCreek wines.
In his technical notes on the wines, Taylor says: “Block 3 is one of our favourite blocks because of its age (planted in 1991) and the interesting flavour profiles it can display.”
The current releases include a Block 7 Pinot Gris. That site at the winery vineyard is a low vigour site because the soil is more stony than other parts of the vineyard. The low-yielding vines produce fruit and wine of considerable intensity. The resulting wine is quite exceptional.
The vines at the Haynes Creek vineyard near Osoyoos are now 10 years old. This is the winery’s first Platinum Syrah from this site.
In addition to winning awards, CedarCreek’s Home Block Vineyard and the winery were both certified organic in 2019. This completes a three-year of viticulture and winemaking practices at CedarCreek. Taylor writes that CedarCreek will be releasing its first organic wines next spring.
“The transition to organic continues to influence our philosophies and practices in the vineyard and the winery,” Taylor writes. “One highlight of our harvest this year was the fruit integrity we were able to achieve, despite higher-than-average rainfall. Our hands-on approach in the vineyard helped produce fruit with thick skins and open bunches, which in turn afforded us the opportunity to let the fruit hang through the rain undisturbed so we could pick when we wanted to, now when the weather forced us to.”
Here are notes on the current releases.
CedarCreek Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2018 ($29.99 for 863 cases). Half of this wine was fermented with wild yeast; half with organic yeast. Ninety percent was fermented in stainless steel, 10% in barrel. The wine was aged six months on the lees. The wine has appealing aromas and flavours of lime, lemon and peach. The fresh, bracing acidity is balanced with residual sugar, leaving the impression on the palate of a dry and tangy Riesling with a very long finish. This wine has scooped up gold medals at both national and international competitions. 92.
CedarCreek Platinum Block 7 Pinot Gris 2018 ($29.99 for 648 cases). This wine takes the Okanagan’s most widely grown white to another level. The texture, the aromas, the residual sugar and the flavours that include a note of botrytis recall the sophisticated Pinot Gris wines of Alsace. The wine was fermented 78% in oak puncheons, 22% in a concrete egg and spent six months on the lees. The aromas and flavours present a medley of tropical fruits mingled with tobacco. The 35 grams of residual sugar give the wine a rich mouthfeel and a very long finish. Pair the wine with cheese or savoury pate. 93.
CedarCreek Chardonnay 2018 ($18.99 for 3,195 cases). This wine was fermented slowly (115 days) and aged 10 months in French oak (76% barrel, 24% foudre). The oak is very well integrated and is subtle in the aroma. On the palate, the flavours of citrus and apple mingle with just a hint of oak. 90.
CedarCreek Pinot Noir 2017 ($26.99 for 1,350 cases). This wine was fermented 85% in stainless steel, 15% in concrete and aged 12 months in French oak. The wine’s appeal begins with its deep ruby hue and appealing aromas of cherries. Medium-bodied and silky, the wine has dark fruit flavours. 90.
CedarCreek Platinum Haynes Creek Syrah 2017 ($49.99 for 747 cases). The Haynes Creek vineyard is in Osoyoos. This wine, which has 1% Viognier, was fermented in concrete with wild yeast and aged 14 months in French oak. In the glass, the colour is so deep that it is almost opaque. The wine begins with meaty delicatessen aromas mingled with figs, plums and a hint of pepper. That is echoed on the full palate. The long, ripe tannins give the wine a polished roundness. On the finish, there are notes of leather, licorice, dark fruits and pepper. This is a robust and satisfying Syrah. 94.
CedarCreek Platinum Riesling Icewine 2017 ($57.99 for 547 cases of 375 ml bottles). This wine was harvested on the night of December 27, 2017, at -10◦C. It was fermented in large oak vessels (47% German, 53% French). The residual sugar is 229 grams per litre. The wine begins with intense aromas of ripe apple, citrus and stone fruit mingled with a hint of oak. The palate is luscious with intense honeyed flavours of marmalade and ripe pineapple. The finish lingers and lingers. 95.