I'm so glad that Shawn and I chose Creekside Estate Winery as the first official stop on our recent Twenty Valley visit - this tour and tasting set the perfect tone for our trip.
The vibe here is relaxed and laidback from the moment you walk in the door. We chose a fairly quiet time to visit, which meant we had lots of time to look around and explore the shelves while we waited for our appointment. They also had Neko Case on the sound system, which is enough to make me like a place based on good taste in music alone.
We were very lucky that Assistant Winemaker Yvonne Irvine (@cellarmonkey) was available to meet with us. Planning a visit during harvest meant that it was up in the air if we'd be able to meet with any of the wine making staff, but it happened that the day we were there wasn't a super busy one. Yvonne was kind enough to take us through a tasting and then for a tour of the winery itself. Matt Loney (@matt_loney), who handles Sales & Marketing, was also able to join us for a little while before heading off to the Niagara Wine Festival.
We started off with the good stuff, the 2000 X Blanc de Blancs, which is a very unique sparkling wine. It felt very special to try this - especially knowing that it's the first and only sparkling wine that Creekside has every produced. It's also a ten year old bottle, so it was interesting for this wine newbie to try something so different from traditional sparkling wines. I love that in the tasting notes on their site they refer to it as "picking up some funk" after spending 10 years in the Creekside cellars and, while you can certainly taste the difference aging brings, I thought this funk had a great groove.
The 2011 Estate Sauvignon Blanc was up next. Yvonne explained that the 2009 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is a French oak ferment (40% new and 60%
neutral) and the 2011 Estate Sauvignon Blanc is unoaked. If, like me, you have to ask what neutral means it's 3-6 years
old or more. I have to admit that the 2011 was my favourite from the tasting. I loved the nose on this wine - fruity with citrus - and I felt like the wine lived up to that with lots of fresh, fruity flavour. This was the one that stuck with me after all of the wines had been tasted and we bought more than one bottle.**
We also tried the 2010 Laura's White, which is another wine we liked so much we had to bring some home. I am a huge fan of blends, so it seemed inevitable that this would be one of my favourites. It also has a sweet, honey-filled nose and a fresh, crisp taste.
And then we went red - starting with the 2010 Estate Shiraz. This medium-bodied red will age beautifully, explains Yvonne. It should mature slowly and less dramatically, so this could be a well-priced option for starting your cellar.
I don't drink a lot of red because I'm one of those unlucky folks who gets headaches from some red wines, but I'd love to be able to enjoy it more often. This one is spicy and fruity and has great mouth feel.
Other reds we sampled were the 2008 Broken Press Syrah, which is a medium-bodied wine with a spicy, peppery nose - an elegant, delicate wine, as Yvonne and Matt described it - and the Broken Press Shiraz, which I also found to be fruity and a bit spicy. I'm still working on my tasting note skills for reds, but I liked both of these. I'd want to try them again. And the story of how the Broken Press label came to be is as unique as the wines - a broken press meant that only a tiny bit of Viognier juice was produced - the options were to stomp by foot or mix with Shiraz. They went with the later option and a unique blend was born. It was so popular that first year that they've done it every year since.
We also tried a barrel tasting, which was a first for me - it was even more interesting when Yvonne offered to take us out to show us the barrel we were tasting from. That was the start of a tour around the winery's inner workings, including an introduction to Creekside's tanks - all of whom are named after famous people - from the Beatles to scientists to philosophers. That's Yoko on the right. I got to do a tank tasting, which was fascinating - at that point the wine is more like juice and although it's too yeasty to swallow, it tastes fantastic.
After the tanks, we visited the cellars, which are both simple and stunning, if such a thing is possible. I absolutely loved the candle chandelier, which added a powerful, pretty touch.
A few more shots from Creekside:
A huge thanks to everyone at Creekside Estate Winery, especially Yvonne and Matt, who made our visit so exceptional. We look forward to visiting again soon.
Interested in reading more about Creekside? Uncork Ontario has a great review of a winery visit.
* The fine print. Our tour and tastings at Creekside were complimentary - the wine we brought home (and my awesome new Creekside t-shirt) were all purchased.
** Rookie mistake - In the original post I mixed up the 2009 Reserve and the 2011 Estate Sauvignon Blanc. It's funny, when I was writing the post I thought 'this sounds weird' but I decided to go with my notes - turns out, they were incorrect. So sorry for any confusion - I'm learning. :)