Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Spring Wine Club Shipments: CedarCreek

Following quickly on the footsteps of my Tinhorn Creek Crush Club spring delivery was a box of new releases from CedarCreek, part of their thrice-yearly Platinum Club allotment. The first shipment of the year - in February - contained the Platinum Reserve Red wines and now came the chance to enjoy the newly released aromatic whites and Rosé. CedarCreek’s whites are now fully under the mandate of new winemaker Darryl Brooker, whereas many of the reds still carry the signature of Tom DiBello, who left in 2010.


One of the wines newly under Darryl’s purview is CedarCreek’s new Rosé program. Last year the first vintage of Pinot Noir Rosé was released to very positive acclaim (e.g., runner up Best-of-Varietal at the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival), and the 2011 Rosé has now come out to follow up on that refreshing first release. Like last year, the wine is produced in a saignée style, with a portion of the juice bled off from Pinot Noir crush. A month of fermentation in stainless steel yields what the winery likes to call “Pinot Noir, unplugged.” A couple of years ago CedarCreek drastically changed their website format, with a whole new approach to “tasting notes” that narrows in on particular flavours. In the case of the Rosé they nailed it with straightforward “strawberries” on the nose and palate. Having tasted it recently I can do little justice beyond that very accurate descriptor! It’s another great BC Rosé that conjures up thoughts of summer sunshine sorely lacking as of late - no excuse not to drink it under cloudy skies though!

My Platinum Club shipment contained two bottles of Rosé, and four selected white wines – 2011 vintages of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and the very special Ehrenfelser. CedarCreek’s Ehrenfelser has been an institution in my home every since the stellar 2009 vintage, when it was a rich but delicate glass of fruit salad that made us swoon. The well-crafted 2010 release was also very good, but with a touch too much acidity for us it couldn’t top its predecessor. By now those memories of 2009 are almost certainly inflated - and current bottles of that vintage have lost much of their delicate fruit characteristics - so it’s becoming difficult to accurately compare newer releases. However, as John Schreiner details, for the 2011 release Darryl increased the sugar slightly and decreased the acid, returning the wine to a style closer to that “demanded” by fans.

John Schreiner’s detailed preview of the new wines covers all the new releases in detail, including the Gewurztraminer, which I have yet to thoroughly sample. A neat little trick in fermenting a small percentage of the juice in French oak is said to have added additional texture that I’m looking forward to enjoying. I have however opened a bottle of both the Riesling and Pinot Gris to much pleasure. The Riesling is a laser-sharp tribute to the Okanagan style that Darryl has made all his own. The 2010 vintage was named Best-of-Varietal at last year’s Okanagan Spring Wine Festival and the 2011 is equally focused on tangy lime flavours. It’s such a distinctive style that I picked out the CedarCreek immediately upon tasting it at a recent blind tasting (without even knowing it was being poured). The combination of low alcohol (less than 11%) and a memorable palate led Anthony Gismondi to describe it as “light, juicy fun, yet serious...” while praising it for versatile food pairing possibilities. I imagine it would serve quite well with bright, light fare from brunch to dinner.

Food friendliness continues with the 2011 Pinot Gris. CedarCreek’s Pinot Gris would make an excellent candidate for a blind comparison alongside Tinhorn Creek’s bottle of the same. Selling for $18 each, both bottles include a special focus on texture this year: Tinhorn Creek fermented 30% of their wine malolactically in small stainless steel barrels, while CedarCreek has gone all the way to oak, with 25% fermenting for 40 days in French wood after soaking 10% of the juice on skins overnight. The result at CedarCreek has been stellar balance and a complex mouth-filling texture that I adore. Aromas and flavours of fresh peaches abound in a wine that you could drink any time, although the winery suggests an Alsatian Onion Tart would be a delightful pairing. I can almost taste it already!

CedarCreek’s spring releases are currently widely available and should provide for a very enjoyable summer of sipping. Given the popularity of these wines in years past I wouldn’t expect bottles of Ehrenfelser (1,140 cases) or Rosé (630 cases) in particular to stick around for too long. Don't miss your chance to stock up for good times!


CedarCreek Estate Winery said...

Russell we can't wait to share our 2011 Platinum Viognier! Second Vintage under Darryl's reign and the first ever wine that we partially fermented in the concrete EGG. It's just this rich and creamy mouthfeel loaded with apricots and vanilla. Hope to share some with you soon!

Russell Ball said...

I'm very much looking forward to it: I loved the wonderful texture and flavours of the 2010 Platinum Viognier. We recently enjoyed it alongside the 2009 Pentage Viognier (CWA Gold), and the 2010 Mt. Lehman Viognier (Lt. Gov. Award), and it showed extremely well.

Darryl Brooker said...

Russell, just had a chance to read your post and I really appreciate your comments and insight on the wines. My favourite is definitely the Riesling, however the Pinot Gris finishes a close second. They are all evolving wines and I am looking forward to releasing some of the more 'serious' wines that I have been lucky enough to make here at CedarCreek. Highlights will be the 2010 Platinum Chardonnay and 2010 Platinum Pinot Noir - both single vineyard wines. Thanks again Russell, great writing. Darryl Brooker.