Revisting the Niagara Wine region, Canada, part 1

So, I was back in the Niagara wine region, Canada’s largest, for my third visit in a couple of years. This gave me a chance to visit some producers I’d missed on previous trips, and I began in Jordan, with Creekside.


Creekside was founded in 1997, and the winery opened its doors in 1998 (prior to this it was called VP Cellars). The current barrel cellar was built in 2000. The winery was started by Lauren McCain, and it was then sold to Equity Wine Group who also own an agency and distributor business.


They have 11 acres of vines (Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon) in the Creek Shores AVA of Niagara, and the 50 acre Queenstown Road Vineyard in St David's Bench VQA (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Viognier). This is sufficient for about 40% of requirements. Production is around 20 000 cases a year.


The speciality here is Syrah. 'We are a bit of an oddity in Niagara,' says Rob Power (above), 'in that we are a red wine specialist in a white wine region.' Power has been winemaker here since 2000; we also met with Matt Loney, director of sales and marketing.


They usually get one cold winter a decade here, but they've just had two in two years. Sauvignon Blanc is struggling with this cold, as is Cabernet Sauvignon, but Syrah is fine.


Creekside The Trad Reserve Sparkling 2011 St David's Bench, Niagara, Canada
55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay, three years on lees. Tight, slightly toasty nose with nice citrus and pear fruit. Quite rich with some toastiness and lovely balance and focus. 89/100

Creekside Sauvignon Blanc Backyard Bubbly 2012 Niagara, Canada
Unusual nose of herbs, pears and fennel. Has a hint of green on the palate. Really distinctive with some grapefruit. Unusual and delicious with toast and spice notes. 88/100

Creekside Sauvignon Blanc Backyard Block 2013 Creek Shores, Niagara, Canada
Lively and rounded with rich grapefruit and pear notes. Quite ripe with lovely fresh tangerine and spice notes. Stylish. 90/100

Creekside Reserve Viognier 2013 St David's Bench, Niagara, Canada
Floral honeysuckle and pear nose. Rounded palate with soft mid-palate and varietally true pear and apricot flavours. The grapes have to hang well into October to get these characters. Barrel-fermented in neutral French oak. 91/100

Creekside Riesling Marianne Hill Vineyard 2014 Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
Lovely delicate grapefruit lemon and floral nose with some tangerine. Beautifully expressive, textured palate with spice and citrus. Everything is in harmony with a hint of sweetness. Nice acidity. So pretty. 93/100

Creekside Pinot Noir 2014 St David' Bench, Niagara, Canada
Clone 115. Very fine and focused with bright red fruits. Nice texture and some spicy notes, and a bit of a peppery edge. Lovely mouthfeel.

Creekside Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 St David's Bench, Niagara, Canada (cask sample)
Ripe blackcurrant nose with some pretty leather, spice and chalk notes. Powerful, almost Italianesque palate with firm tannins. This is pretty serious and stylish. 93/100

Creekside Broken Press Syrah 2008 St David's Bench, Niagara, Canada
Lovely peppery nose with fine red and black cherries. Really refined with a supple peppery palate showing nice pure fruit. Lively and focused with good acidity. Fine and fresh with a hint of soy on the finish. 93/100

Creekside Broken Press Syrah 2011 St David's Bench, Niagara, Canada
Lively peppery nose is floral and expressive with pure black cherries. Lovely texture on the fine palate which is smooth and sweet. Fresh and detailed with nice precision. Hints of leather and pepper, with generosity. 93/100

Creekside Broken Press Syrah 2012 St David's Bench, Niagara, Canada
Floral with a hint of peach and apricot. Lovely black cherry fruit with a bit of pepper. Textured palate shows nice finesse with sweet black fruits and some grippy structure. Pretty with nice purity. 93/100

Creekside Unbroken Press Syrah 2012 St David's Bench, Niagara, Canada
The same wine as the broken press, but with no Viognier skins. Sweet, ripe, dense and grippy with good structure. Ripe and sweet with some floral notes. Sophisticated and quite structured. 92/100

Creekside Iconoclast 2013 Niagara, Canada
This is declassified broken press Syrah. It was overcropped and wet vintage, so the entire 22 barrel batch went into this wine. Fresh, supple, juicy and lively with some peppery notes and a bit of grip. Nice fresh red fruits here. 88/100

Creekside Laura's Red 2011 Niagara, Canada
A Bordeaux-style blend. Spicy, gravelly nose. Grippy blackcurrant with some spice. Fresh and juicy with real structure and some earthy notes. 89/100

Creekside Laura's Red 2012 Niagara, Canada
Floral black fruits nose is really attractive. Ripe, textured, spicy palate with a grippy peppery edge to the ripe fruit. Nice focus here: grippy and detailed. 91/100

Creekside Merlot Reserve 2010 Niagara, Canada
Supple and spicy with some gravelly notes, as well as a bit of earth. Shows some development and an attractive texture. 91/100

Creekside Merlot Reserve 2012 Niagara, Canada
Fresh and spicy with some pepper notes. Nice bright, vivid fruit with real tannic grip. Focused and tannic. 92/100

Creekside Syrah 2013 Niagara Peninsula, Canada
This is a 4000 case production that sells in LCBO stores for CAN$15.95. It has a
 floral black cherry nose and it's fresh and a bit sappy with a hint of green. Lovely juicy fruit here. 88/100


Pearl Morissette
Hidden Bench

Closson Chase
Huff Estates
Rosehall Run
Norman Hardie

Wines tasted 06/15  
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