Friday, October 29, 2021

Sipping Stars with Township 7

Photo: Sparkling wine champion Mary McDermott
Is it possible to grow a sparkling wine in the Fraser Valley that can rival Champagne? Township 7’s Sirius 2015 is an emphatically positive answer to that question. The wine, Sirius, is a Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend that has been aged five years on the lees (as a good Champagne might be). Just being released now, this is the first vintage of the brightest star in Township 7’s seven stars portfolio of sparkling wines. There are five bubblies in the portfolio, with a sixth under development.
Sirius is being released just months after Township 7 released an ultra-premium red called Infinity. Both wines are badged with an elegant metallic symbols on the bottle, underling that both are the luxury wines from Township 7. Township 7 released its first sparkling wine in 2001. It was then called Seven Stars but, with the launch of seven stars as the brand for its collection of sparkling wines, it has been renamed Polaris. It is now the only one of these wines available to the general public. The rest, along with Polaris, are delivered exclusively through the seven stars wine club, whose members can get a shipment of six bottles twice a year. This is one of the very few wine clubs in Canada dedicated just to sparkling wine. Getting Champagne-quality bubble is not the only club benefit. In this vintage, 40 club members got to pick the grapes in Township 7’s two-and-a-half acre Langley vineyard, followed with lunch and glasses of sparkling wine.
Mike Raffan, Township 7’s general manager and the winery’s former owner, wanted to launch a sparkling wine program as soon as he became involved with Township 7. “When I bought the winery in 2006, I wanted to do more sparkling,” he says. “We had an unusual site in Langley. I always wanted to do something but it never worked out.” In 2014, he got an offer he “could not refuse” from businessman Ge Song whose deep pockets have enabled Township 7 to expand its winery, invest in vineyards, hire winemaker Mary McDermott and launch the sparkling wine project in 2015. “In 2014, when we hired Mary, she had the experience, the knowledge and mostly the passion about sparkling wines,” Mike recalls. “That was part of our first interview. It was not primarily why she was hired but, as it turns out, we were able to start the project in 2015.”
Mary McDermott became passionate about sparkling wines while taking WSET courses and working as a sommelier in Ontario. “I loved sparkling - it is one of my favourites,” Mary says. “When I started full time in wineries, I worked at Cave Springs Cellars [near St. Catharines]. They had a small sparkling program there and I got my hands dirty, because I worked fulltime in the cellars then. I moved from Cave Springs to Trius and took over the Trius program, which is much larger. It kept going from there.” She continues: “I always really enjoyed sparkling wine. The process is quite different than making other wines. There is a lot more patience required. You have to be aware of all the things that are happening with the ferments … how the grapes are coming in, how they are grown. It takes a little more attention to detail when you are making it. It was challenging for me and I like that. That’s where all that passion comes from.” She recognized the cool Langley vineyard’s potential for sparkling wines, which are usually made with high acid, low sugar grapes. That is exactly what the Langley site delivers. The other vineyards from which Township 7 sources grapes for bubble are comparatively cool by the standards of the Okanagan; and can be managed to produce the required fruit quality.
At the winery’s estate vineyard on the Naramata Bench, Township 7 has planted a new vineyard dedicated to sparkling wine. The new plantings are Pinot Noir clone 828, which Mary likes for bubble, and Pinot Meunier, a traditional Champagne grape. “These blocks along with our estate Chardonnay that was first planted in 2004 will be designated solely for a new Naramata Bench estate sparkling,” the winery says. These are all small lot wines, with total production between 1,500 and 2,000 cases a year, depending on the vintage. The small production is one reason for limiting the distribution of all but Polaris to the wine club. Mary is increasing production when she can. “We are expanding the Rigel and the Vega; and I made more Polaris as well this year, for a number of reasons,” she says. “I found the aromatic sparklers like the Rigel and the Vega [made with Viognier] were selling out so quickly. People wanted to buy more and we just didn’t have it. I decided to double the size of production of those. Those will be disgorged in the spring, once they have been in bottle for a year.”
Here are notes on the sparkling wines.
seven stars Sirius 2015 ($79.97 for 2,800 bottles). This wine is 54% Pinot Noir, 46% Chardonnay. The grapes were picked, pressed and fermented together. The wine was left a full five years en tirage (on the lees) to soften its acidity and develop complexity. The result is an elegant wine with a good mousse and aromas of citrus mingled with delicate brioche notes. The flavours are fresh, with hints of citrus and apple. 95.
seven stars Polaris 2018 ($35.97 for 6,458 bottles). This is 100% Chardonnay with grapes from the Hidden Bench Vineyard at Covert Farms near Oliver; and from the estate vineyard on the Naramata Bench. The wine was on the lees for about 18 months. The wine has aromas of orchard fruits. The creamy mousse gives good texture to the palate and the flavours of apple and citrus. Good acidity gives this wine a fresh and crisp finish. 93.
seven stars Equinox 2017 ($51.97 for 1,438 bottles). This is 100% Pinot Noir clone 828, with the fruit from Sperling Vineyards in East Kelowna. The wine was en tirage for 30 months. There is a very slight blush, with an active mousse and fruity aromas mingled with light brioche. There is also bright fruit on the palate leading to a crisp, clean and fresh finish. 94.
seven stars Rigel 2019 ($32.97 for 1,480 bottles). This is the debut Riesling sparkling wine in the portfolio. The grapes, Riesling clone 21-B, are from the Fool’s Gold Vineyard near Oliver. Fermentation was cool to preserve the fruit aromatics. The wine was on the lees for 12 months. Some modest residual sugar, balanced with bright acidity, accentuates the lemon and lime aromas and flavours. The exquisite balance gives the wine a crisp, bright finish. 93.
seven stars Vega 2018 ($32.97). This wine was released and reviewed in 2020. The review is reprinted to complete the portfolio. Only 1,296 bottles were made; all were offered to the wine club. Made with Viognier – rarely used for bubble - this wine has aromas of pink grapefruit mingled with brioche. It is creamy on the palate with a long finish. 91.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Frind's red wines show power

Photo: Winery owner Markus Frind
There is a distinctive house style to the red wines from Frind Estate Winery: bold, rich and luscious with mouth-filling fruit and a generous texture. A recent tasting of delicious 2020 reds just being released by this West Kelowna winery was impressive for the consistency of the style, regardless what the varietal is. Even at two years of age, the wines are all drinking well. Given their soft tannins, these are not wines to lay down, as one does with Bordeaux reds. However, the majority of consumers do not have the patience or the budget to cellar wines for a decade or two. The Frind reds are drinkable right now.
The house style begins with the vineyards producing the fruit for the big reds. The major sources of the fruit are two vineyards in the south Okanagan – one near Oliver and one near Osoyoos. As well, Frind has been aggressively purchasing or developing vineyards throughout the Okanagan. There is a second explanation for the house style. Frind arguably has the newest and latest winemaking technology in its cellar. This is a young winery: the cellar is five years old, at the most. And Markus Frind, the owner, is technically savvy; and has the resources to buy the best technology. When the grapes arrive at the winery, they pass through one or more of the winery’s three optical sorters. These enable the winery to eliminate sub-par berries and to sort the rest by size and other quality determinants.
The fruit is pressed in a new Willmes press. The pressing cycles are gentle, assuring that no hard tannins end up in the wines. Fermentation takes place in automated fermentation tanks which are scaled so that Eric von Krosigk, the chief winemaker,(above) can work with small lots for optimal control of quality. As he continues to process the wines, Eric has access to additional technological aides that must make his peers green with envy. There is a video on the Frind web site of Eric being interviewed about the winery’s technology by wine writer Anthony Gismondi. One has the impression that Eric is somewhat awestruck by the tools at his disposal. I don’t doubt he is. When Vernon-born Eric began making wine in 1991 at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, the production facility lacked hot water and had a blue tarpaulin covering an extension of the primitive building that served as a winery. It was equipment more suited to a home winemaker than to a commercial winery. In time, Summerhill found the resources to equip a proper cellar. Eric spent much of his winemaking career there until Markus Frind recruited him three years ago.
Markus’s own biography is even more colourful. Born in Germany in 1978, he was brought to Canada four years later by his immigrant parents. After high school, Markus studies business and computer science before launching into a career in technology. In 2003, he created the Plenty of Fish dating site. After selling it in 2015 for US$575 million, he had more than enough resources to start what is becoming one of British Columbia’s leading wineries. One of his goals is that all of Frind’s wines aspire to reach the 100 point quality level. If they are not there yet, it seems only a matter of time.
If I have any reservation about the house style at Frind, it is that it seems to homogenize varietal character. It was hard to taste the differences among the varietals, even though all were delicious. The exception was Midnight, the wine made with Maréchal Foch. Even though the winemaker wanted to suppress the French hybrid characteristics of what once was the Okanagan’s workhorse red, you still know you are tasting a Foch. And that is as it should be.
Here are notes on the current releases.
Frind Midnight 2020 ($25.99). Aptly named for its deep colour, this wine is made from Maréchal Foch grapes grown immediately in front of the winery. The wine begins with aromas of spice and plum. The sweet fruit on the rich and soft palate delivers flavours of dark cherry, plum and coffee. 88.
Frind Premier Merlot 2020 ($32.99). This is a bold and juicy Merlot with aromas and flavours of blueberry, dark cherry, plum and spice. There are long, ripe tannins. 91.
Frind Premier Cabernet Franc 2020 ($34.99). Dark-hued, the wine begins with the classic brambly aromas of the varietal. Full-bodied, the wine delivers flavours of black cherries, black currants and spice with chocolate and licorice on the long finish. 91.
Frind Premier Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 ($37.99). This is also a dark-hued wine with aromas of black currant and dark cherry. On the rich and juicy palate, the wine delivers flavours of ripe fruit, recalling blueberry jam. The ripe tannins support the richness of the palate. 90
Frind Premier Syrah 2020 ($39.99). This is another dark and rich wine, beginning with aromas of black cherry and plum that are echoed on the palate. There is a slight hint of pepper on the finish. 91.

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Sipster's Guide: a refreshing look at wine tasting

The best $20 you will ever spend on wine will be to buy Luke Whittall’s The Sipsters Pocket Guide to 50 Must-Try BC Wines, just being released by Touchwood Editions. This is one of the year’s most original wine books. Fifty wines are reviewed – and every review is fresh and lively, often amusing and always enlightening. At the end of the book, I wanted another 50 of Luke’s wine reviews. And since this is volume one, it seems that Luke and Touchwood are anticipating future volumes.
Before I continue to discuss the book, I must note that Luke and I are colleagues and friends. Touchwood also acknowledges this in the brief biographical note on its web site: “Luke Whittall has worked in cellars, vineyards, and wine shops since 2005 and is currently a wine instructor at Okanagan College. His first book, Valleys of Wine: A Taste of British Columbia’s Wine History was published in 2019 and he co-authored The Okanagan Wine Tour Guide with John Schreiner in 2020. He lives in Okanagan Falls, BC.” Sipster is a slim 140-page volume with a bland, uninspired cover, which is at odds with the very attractive and well-organized interior, featuring a full-colour photograph of each wine. There are reviews of six sparkling wines, 17 white wines, five rosés, 17 reds and five dessert wines. The products are from wineries located in most of the British Columbia wine regions. And there is a good index.
“Rather than focus on the flavours, aromas and amazing production techniques of a wine, I will focus on the experiences the wines inspire,” Luke writes. There are no point scores; each wine is instead given an attitude. For example, The One, a sparkling wine from Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery, has a “joyful” attitude. The Poplar Grove Winery Rosé has an “endearing” attitude. And so on. Luke asserts that his book “presents a new way of thinking about wine to help you accurately decide which wines to seek out on your next trip to the store or your next visit to wine country.”
You will get the idea if I quote some of the gems that I found in the book. Luke describes Integrity Frizzante, a Prosecco-style sparkler from 8th Generation Vineyards, as a Swiss Army knife because it “can go anywhere and fit any mood or occasion with ease.” The wine’s attitude is Go-Getter and the pairing suggestions include Miss Vickie’s potato chips.
The personality of Fitz Brut from Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is said to be operatic. Luke spins musical themes through the entire review, starting with the “tinny” sounds of peeling the foil and the “downbeat” when the cork is removed. There is as “crescendo” of bubbles which refuse to “decrescendo” in the glass. “Even after sipping,” Luke writes, “you can still hear the music as the bubbles pop in your mouth.” That review reminded me of another biographical detail about Luke: he is also an accomplished musician.
The rosé from French Door Estate Winery, a new producer on Black Sage Road, is assigned the “romantic” attitude. “… This wine,” Luke writes, “feels like a quiet, intriguing conversation with someone you’ve never met before but feel instantly connected with.” Contrast that to my more conventional review of the same wine: French Door Rosé 2020 ($30). This is a blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache. This is a striking dry rosé with aromas and flavours of pine needles and orange peel. It is somewhat reminiscent of a fine single malt scotch without the bite of the alcohol. A superb rosé with food. 92.
Among the white wines is one of my favourites, the Albariño from Stag’s Hollow Winery. When I reviewed the 2020 vintage, I wrote: “Lovely floral aromas mingle with melons and apples. On the palate, there are flavours of stone fruit, lime and lemon. The finish is refreshing, with a lift of bright acidity. 92.” Luke’s review of the same wine is as refreshing as the wine. “I would swear that there is an herb garden in my glass when I sip this wine,” Luke writes. “There is tarragon and cilantro, parsley and rosemary, sage and basil, among many others. As the wine warms, more herbs come out to play. This is a doggy’s nose view of walking through a garden with all of these amazing herbs in full aromatic bloom.” What follows is a brief discussion of the sensory ability of dogs.
I was struck by Luke’s erudite reference to the great American photographer Ansell Adams in his review of Menhir, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend from Corcelettes Estate Winery in the Similkameen. “Adams captured every part of the scene with a sharpness and detail that became his trademark,” Luke writes. “If a wine could be a photograph, this one would be a beautiful landscape of the Similkameen Valley – if Adams had photographed the Similkameen Valley. “There are so many gradations of colour, texture, taste and aroma in this wine, and no detail has been blurred.”
The attitude of Lakeside Cellars Syrah is “Texas Gunslinger.” Luke describes it as “Meat and wood in a glass. Smoked brisket or pork shoulder and dried hickory, to be more precise.” I expect a swaggering red when I get my hands on a bottle. Luke even includes a fruit wine: Cherry Baby from Nostalgia Wines near Oliver. The attitude is “flirty” – if only because of the sexy cupcake on the label. “… There are some people who just leave you breathless. Speechless even. If you ever found yourself breathless in the presence of someone like that, then you already know what this wine is like. … This is about as playful as they get.” This a delightful book. And it will make you rethink how you taste and appreciate wines.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Maverick: winery in a hurry

Photo: Maverick's winemaker Andrew Windsor
Under its new owners since April 2020, Maverick Estate Winery is in a hurry. It was producing about 4,000 cases a year when it was taken over by Jan Nelson and Andrew Windsor. It produced 6,200 cases in the 2020 vintage and expects to produce about 9,000 cases this fall. “Our goal is to grow to about 15,000 cases,” says Jan, the winery’s president. “So far, we have been able to grow organically. We have not had to go for more capital to our partners. We have been managing to do it just with cash flow and mortgages from the bank. The goal is to grow as quickly as we can without overstressing ourselves or putting ourselves in financial peril. We want to get to 15,000 cases as quick as we can.”
Their partners are Bob and Barb Shaunessy, the former majority owners of Tinhorn Creek until that winery was sold in 2017 to Andrew Peller Ltd. At the time, Andrew Windsor was the winemaker at Tinhorn Creek while Jan was the sales and marketing manager. The backing from the Shaunessys gave them a running start to acquire an established winery with a solid reputation. A producer of quite superb wines, Maverick opened in 2013 with a highway-side tasting room midway between Oliver and Osoyoos. The original owners were Bertus Albertyn, his father-in-law Dr. Schalk de Witt, and their families. Bertus is a South African trained winemaker who came to the Okanagan in 2009. Before opening Maverick, he was the winemaker at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery. He has developed a significant business as a consulting winemaker.
Jan and Andrew are building quickly on their running start. While the previous owners had been selling some of the grapes from the four vineyards Maverick farmed, Jan and Andrew began phasing out the sales contracts after the 2020 vintage. “This year, we are not selling most of our grapes,” Jan says. “We have increased production. I think we will do about 9,000 cases this year, from our estate vineyards and by picking up a little from around the neighbourhood to compliment what we already grow on our sites.” They are also plan to develop two vineyards on a nearby mountainside where Maverick purchased 77 acres this year with two plantable benches. A lower bench will be planted primarily with Bordeaux reds and Syrah. The cooler upper bench will be planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. “And we are thinking of planting some Tempranillo and Vermentino there, just for fun,” Jan says. “By the time those two are planted, we will have around 60 acres of producing vineyards. Our goal is to be self-sufficient, if we can be. With grapes in such limited availability, I don’t see it getting easier for us to buy grapes on the market.”
The rapid rise in production is outstripping the capacity of Maverick’s original winery. “This year we will be doing 140 tons of fruit in a place that was typically doing 60 tones of fruit,” Jan says. “It requires a lot of quick flips in tanks and barreling down quickly, so we can use tanks for second and third round.” To relieve the capacity crunch, Maverick is leasing a production facility from nearby Kismet Estate Winery. “It’s basically a warehouse but it was their original winery,” Jan says. “We have leased that so we can produce wine over there while we rebuild here on site.”
Maverick’s tasting room, while architecturally appealing, also provided too small. “In 2019, they apparently had 19,000 or 20,000 visitors- in a tasting room with a table than can seat eight and at a five-meter-long tasting bar. I don’t know how they did it,” Jan marvels. “Once the Covid restrictions came in, we had to pull back on having any sort of crowd at the tasting bar. So we started doing tastings outside on the little patio and inside, in the private room. This year, we built an outside tasting garden that can sit 45 people at a time. It allowed us to offer a different sort of experience to what the Okanagan was offering previously. Going to a tasting bar, stretching out an arm and hoping for a tipple is hopefully a thing of the past.”
Here are notes on current releases from Maverick. The winery expects to be sold out by the end of the year.
Maverick Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($19.98). This wine is fresh and zesty, with aromas and flavours of lime mingled with herbal notes, along with papaya and passionfruit. 91.
Maverick Cross Road Chardonnay 2020 ($26.98). This is a delicious, fruit forward Chardonnay. It begins with aromas of peach and apple. The full-flavoured palate delivers stone fruit and apple with spicy oak on the finish. 90.
Maverick Provenance Pinot Noir 2020 ($27.98). This wine was aged eight months in two-year-old barrels. The wine is youthfully bright and vibrant, with aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry. On the finish, there is spice and a hint of oak. 90.
Maverick Bush Vine Syrah 2019 ($29.98). This is a boldly flavoured wine, beginning with aromas of delicatessen meats mingled with black pepper. On the palate, there are flavours of fig, plum and pepper, with an earthy, meaty finish. 92.
b>Maverick Carbonic Syrah 2020 ($34.98). By applying carbonic fermentation to whole grapes, winemaker Andrew Windsor created an unusual but delicious Syrah. The wine is big and lush, due to the soft tannins. There are aromas and flavours of plum and pepper with a touch of licorice on the finish. The slight chilling recommended by the winery gives lift to the freshness of the fruit flavours. 91.
b>Maverick Rubeus 2019 ($24.98). This is a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It begins with aromas of blueberry, cherry, plum and spice, which are all echoed in the sweet fruit on the palate. There also are notes of chocolate in the earthy finish of this complex and age-worthy wine. 92.

Friday, October 15, 2021

CedarCreek releases stunning Pinot Noirs

Photo: Winemaker Taylor Whelan
One surprise in this fall’s releases from CedarCreek Estate Winery is that they include the first sparkling wine ever released by the winery. CedarCreek is 35 years old. It is astonishing that there was not a bubbly in the portfolio before this – although there almost was.
CedarCreek was previously owned by Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, who also owns Greata Ranch near Peachland. Darryl Brooker, the CedarCreek winemaker at the time, had begun laying down base wines for bubble in 2012 from Greata Ranch fruit. That might have led to a CedarCreek sparkling wine but for the Senator’s decision to sell CedarCreek in 2014 to Mission Hill’s Anthony von Mandl. Darryl was promoted to Mission Hill. While selling CedarCreek, the Senator retained Greata Ranch as well as the sparkling wines that Darryl had laid down. In 2017, Fitzpatrick Family Wines opened at Greata Ranch, specializing in sparkling wines. It was not until 2020 that Taylor Whelan, the CedarCreek winemaker who took over from Darryl, got around to adding a sparkling wine to the portfolio. The impetus may have been his access to fruit from one of the best von Mandl vineyards, Jagged Rock on Black Sage Bench. The fruit was Pinot Noir, also something of a surprise. Black Sage Bench is usually not regarded as the right terroir for that varietal. But with good viticulture, the vineyard obviously produces Pinot Noir suitable for sparkling wine.
CedarCreek’s estate vineyard in East Kelowna has superb terroir for Pinot Noir – so much so that the winery has released four this year. The quality is simply stunning. These include the Block 2 and Block 4 Pinot Noirs, another legacy of Darryl’s time at CedarCreek when he identified a lower block and a higher block in the vineyard that yielded quite different, but outstanding, wines. After von Mandl bought CedarCreek, Darryl Brooker was promoted to senior winemaker and then president at Mission Hill. Last year, he left to become CEO of a cannabis company. The practice of identifying superior blocks in the vineyard has been continued by Taylor. The current releases include a superb block-designated Riesling and a block-designated Platinum Chardonnay.
Wines designated Platinum formerly were the top of the range at CedarCreek. However, the new releases now include some wines designated Aspect, which seems to be even a step up from Platinum. That likely reflects Taylor’s work in converting CedarCreek to organic viticulture and winemaking. “This incredible, five-year long effort is finally coming to fruition and the vineyards and wines have never approached the health and quality they are showing now,” he writes in a recent note on the release. “With each passing year, we are seeing the difference organic viticulture makes – the soils are alive, the vines are stronger, and we are seeing natural allies, like Kestrels, worms, beneficial insects and songbirds returning to the vineyards.”
Here are notes on the CedarCreek releases.
CedarCreek Jagged Rock Platinum Sparkling Rosé 2020 ($35). This sparkling wine is made with Pinot Noir. The wine is crisp and fresh, with a pale hue and an active mousse. It is light and fruity, with a dry finish. 90.
CedarCreek Estate Riesling 2020 ($20.99). This wine was fermented on stainless steel with organic yeast and aged three months in stainless. It is a bright, vibrant Riesling with racy but well-balanced acidity. There are aromas and flavours of lemon and lime, with a touch of grapefruit. The finish is dry. 91.
CedarCreek Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($20.99). This was fermented with 94% in stainless steel and 6% in concrete and oak, with organic yeast, and aged three months on the lees. There are herbal notes in the aroma leading to flavours of lime and green apple. The finish is crisp and dry. 90.
CedarCreek Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2019 ($29.99). This elegant wine is reserved for CedarCreek’s wine club members. The wine was fermented 75% in stainless steel, 25% in French oak barriques, all with organic yeast. There is a whiff of petrol, leading to aromas of lime. On the palate, there are flavours of lime, lemon and nectarine. The texture is full, with bright, well-balanced acidity. 92.
CedarCreek Platinum Chardonnay Block 5 2018 ($34.99). This wine was fermented with wild yeast in foudres and barriques; and aged 12 months in oak, six months in stainless steel. Only 18 barrels were produced. The oak has not been allowed to dominate. The wine has an intriguing aroma - the winery calls it “flinty struck-match”. I also find hints of citrus. On the palate, there are flavours of citrus leading to a clean, dry finish. 91. CedarCreek Cabernet Franc 2019 ($N/A). This is 90% Cabernet Franc with 10% Merlot, aged 12 months in French oak. It begins with brambly aromas leading to flavours of plum, blackberry and black currant. Firm tannins make this a candidate for aging. 90.
CedarCreek Estate Pinot Noir 2019 ($26.99). The fruit was fermented with wild yeast in a combination of small stainless steel and concrete vessels and aged 12 months in French oak. The wine, dark in colour, begins with aromas of cherry mingled with oak. On the palate there are flavours of blackberry and raspberry with savoury forest floor notes on the finish. The wine is full-bodied and firm. 91.
CedarCreek Platinum Home Block Pinot Noir 2019 ($55). This wine was fermented with wild yeast and aged 16 months on lees in French oak. It begins with dramatic aromas of dark cherry and plum. The intense flavours on the palate include plum, dark cherry and cranberry. The wine is full-bodied. The finish is long, with a hint of anise. 93.
CedarCreek Aspect Block 2 Pinot Noir 2018 ($65). This is a wine club exclusive. The fruit is clone 115, fermented in concrete tanks with wild yeast. It was aged 14 months in French oak (18% new). This is a seductive wine, beginning with floral and strawberry aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of strawberry, cherry and plum with touches of spice. The texture is silky. 97.
CedarCreek Aspect Block 4 Pinot Noir 2018 ($65). This is also a wine club exclusive. There are three clones in this wine, 115, 667 and 777. It was fermented with wild yeast in concrete and aged 14 months in French oak (22% new). This wine has a brooding personality in contrast to the seductive prettiness of Block 2. There is more forest floor here, with savoury – and what the winery calls gamey – notes of dark fruit. The texture is rich and there is a spicy note on the finish. 95.