Monday, March 31, 2008

Creekside Came to Town – March 27, 2008

Santa came early this year, as Creekside and all its subsidiaries came up the QEW to Toronto’s Royal York Hotel on Front Street. One restaurateur remarked to me, “Creekside’s come a long way; who woulda’ thought they’d be at the Royal York.” The subsidiaries were Wayne Gretzky and Mike Weir (men who have undoubtedly stayed at the Royal York at least once in their lifetimes) along with Creekside’s own label.

Mike Weir Winery News …

Mike had the newest stuff to offer, with a 2006 Pinot Gris, and 07 Sauvignon Blanc (being released simultaneously with the 06 thru Vintages), the award winning 05 Cabernet Shiraz and the Vintages June 2008 release, 2006 Pinot Noir. All excellent wines – although someone in the marketing department better re-think style … it was said by a Weir principle that they are going for an “old world style” – that same restaurateur looked over at me and asked, “Do you think Weir is old world in style?” I shook my head. “Neither do I,” he replied.

Wayne Gretzky Winery News …

The wines are 06 and I’ve tasted them before (06 Meritage / 06 Chardonnay / 05 Vidal Icewine), but what I didn’t know was the following:

- Wayne’s winery has now taken over the Willow Heights winery – the signage switchover is now complete.
- The plan is to have Wayne’s wines in the Willow Heights locale for approximately 5 years – then whether they move or not to another location is still a mystery; what will happen to the Willow Heights property in the event of a move is also still up in the air … besides, they have 5 years to figure it out.
- The inside of Willow Heights will be completely renovated to reflect the new Gretzky motif – Willow Heights wine will continue to be sold there, but no new wines will be made under that brand name. All sku’s of Willow Heights wines will be, or have been, removed from the LCBO and the name will then disappear once they are all sold out.
- A new mid-range of Gretzky’s wines will soon hit shelves; those wines will be priced in the $18-20 range.
- Finally, Wayne seems to have some interest in the Napa Valley – wines bearing Wayne’s name will be appearing in our market “maybe by the summer or end of the year.” Prices will be a little higher and packaging will be different to reflect origin – Silver 99 on the label, my guess is for the L.A. Kings, instead of the current orangey-red for the Oilers.

Creekside Winery …

Creekside itself didn’t really have anything “new” – they had some sneak peaks of wines to come, but nothing with finished labels or in bottle. A very attractive 2007 Pinot Noir Rosé (~$14.95) with a nose of strawberries and raspberries, a touch of tannins on the taste … cranberries and raspberries carry the flavours here with very little sweetness to speak of (0.3). It will appear in a Burgundian screw cap bottle and will most likely be available for the New Vintages Festival in June. May 1st should see the launch of their 2007 Pinot Grigio, which is good, crisp and fruity ($13.95). Set for release June/July 2008 is the 2007 Reserve Gewurztraminer (~$25.00 – only 50 cases made), great aromatics here: peach, floral and apricot scents are followed on the palate with floral-rosy nuances, under-ripe peach and apricot flavours – a touch of sweetness finishes this one off nicely. Most interesting of all is a Johannesburg Riesling clone based wine (due summer 2008 – only 60 cases made), which is smooth, spicy and experimental. Seems the boys (Power and MacDonald – winemaking team) decided to stick this one in some really old (4-5 years) neutral oak barrels – just to give it some structure in the mouth. The grapes were babied: hand-picked, whole bunch pressed and watched through every step of their evolutionary way. The result is a Riesling with character and good texture in the mouth … no word on price.

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