Wednesday, May 20, 2020

CedarCreek planting major new vineyard

Photo: CedarCreek winemaker Taylor Whelan

CedarCreek Estate Winery was already one of the Okanagan’s premier wineries in 2013 when it was acquired by Anthony von Mandl, the proprietor of Mission Hill Family Estates.

The investments he has made since are taking CedarCreek to an even higher level. Taylor Whelan, the winemaker, has just released some of the best wines that have ever come from CedarCreek. And there is more to come.

CedarCreek’s original vineyard is 50 acres. Vines there were planted as long ago as 1991 and as recently as 2013.

Last year, the winery bought another 100 acres adjacent to the Home Block, as the original vineyard is now called. In a recent newsletter, Taylor said:

“The new site shows significant promise with interesting and undisturbed soils. … The new site begins on very light sandy loam at around 490 meters (nearly 200 meters above the lake), and as it reaches it maximum height at 550 meters, we find an amazing amount of granite in the soils, both flakes and chips, which have been weathered from the hills above, and rounded cobble deposited by glacial runoff streams. These stones bring an exciting element to what will be one of the highest vineyards in the Okanagan.”

The site is being planted over three years. This year, 25 acres of Sauvignon Blanc is being planted. “Planting across a variety of slopes, gravels and sand, we expect bright intensity and green characters and significant variability which is hard to find in Okanagan Sauvignon Blanc,” Taylor writes.

As well, a small block of Chardonnay is being planted this year.

In 2021, significant blocks of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are to be planted. In 2022, a block of Riesling will be planted on a warmer south-facing slope, along with a little more Pinot and perhaps some Gamay Noir and Grüner Veltliner.

“In addition, we will continue to build the complexity and biodiversity of the property,” Taylor continues. “Plans are in the works for vegetable gardens to supply Home Block restaurant. We will relocate and expand our chicken flock. Finally, we are bringing grazing animals onto the property. Scottish Highland cattle are a hearty and stout breed of cow which we will use to graze the vineyards in the spring and fall as well as provide us with valuable manure for continuing our exploration of viticultural practices beyond organics.”

Here are notes on the current releases.

CedarCreek Home Block Sparkling Brut NV ($24.99). This is CedarCreek’s first sparkling wine – and what a wine! It is made with Muscat Ottonel, an aromatic variety. Winemaker Taylor came up with an extraordinary single fermentation technique to capture the delicate aromatics in the finished wine. Fermentation started in the conventional manner for a table wine. But when 35 grams of natural sugar remained, the wine was transferred to a Charmat tank. Here, carbon dioxide was captured to give the wine bubbles. Fermentation was stopped with 8.5 grams of residual sugar, delicately balanced with perfect acidity. This is the cleanest, freshest ancestral method sparkling wine I have ever tasted. It is bursting with tropical fruit. With just 10% alcohol, it is light and ever so refreshing. 93.

CedarCreek Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($18.99). Move over, New Zealand, for an Okanagan Sauvignon Blanc that mirrors the best of Marlborough. The zesty aromas and flavours of lemon, lime and grapefruit are lively and refreshing on the palate. It is bone dry. 92.

CedarCreek Pinot Gris 2019 ($18.99). This wine was fermented 93% in stainless steel and 7% in neutral oak. That touch of barrel ferment, along with three months on the lees, give the wine a rich texture. It has aromas and flavours pears, apples and peaches. 92.

CedarCreek Pinot Noir 2018 ($26.99). This wine was fermented with wild yeast in small stainless barrels and in concrete. It was aged 14 months on the lees in French oak barriques. It begins with toasty aromas mingled with cherry leading to savoury herbal flavours of cherry and blackberry. The wine has good weight and texture. 91.

CedarCreek Platinum Block 2 Pinot Noir ($54.99). This wine was fermented in concrete and aged 12 months in French oak. It begins with aromas of cherry and plum mingled with toasted oak. The flavours echo the aromas, with a long finish of red fruit flavours. The texture is elegantly silky. 93.

CedarCreek Platinum Block 4 Pinot Noir ($54.99 for 743 six-packs). This wine was fermented in concrete and aged 12 months in French oak. It begins with an appealing aroma of dark cherry mingled with toasted oak. On the palate, there are flavours of cherry, plum and spice with bright red fruit on the persistent  finish. Another outstanding Pinot Noir. 93.

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