Outstanding Undercurrent wines from Creekside


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Creekside Estate Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


When you hear the names Winston, Garfunkel, Mrs. Robinson, Aristotle, Marilyn, Figaro and Socrates, the last thing that would probably come to your mind is wine, yet at Creekside Estate Winery located in Niagara, these names refer to the large steel tanks found in the cellar where wine is fermenting away. Not surprisingly, these “named” tanks have their own personality too.


The name game continues… 

Does emergence of an undercurrent conjure up an image in your mind of a gale force wind or swift moving water? At Creekside, “Undercurrent” is the name of a new series of small lot wines (limited quantities crafted) that are the expression of the passion, curiosity and skill in the Creekside winemaking team. We are excited to feature two Undercurrent wines this month, drawing from an already limited supply (35 to 50 cases) of premium wines made from the grapes of the remarkable 2007 vintage.  You are in for a treat! 


Savvy Sommelier, Julie Stock, recently caught up with Creekside’s award winning winemaker, Rob Power and Director of Sales and Marketing, Matt Loney while they were on tour in Ottawa.


Julie’s interview with Rob & Matt follows on the next page as well as the tasting notes of the Savvy Sommeliers who had the forever difficult job of deciding which three wines we would feature.  We had a hard time choosing between the Malbec and the Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec blend. Since the Malbec grape is particularly uncommon in Niagara, we selected it in order to offer you the 100% expression of this grape variety. 


We are excited to introduce you to this month’s Savvy Selections wines:

·         Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007

·         Undercurrent White Blend VQA 2008

·         Undercurrent Malbec VQA  2007

·         Optional Wine: Undercurrent Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec VQA 2007


Continue reading on the following pages about Creekside’s approach to blending, experimentation and craftsmanship.


You won’t find these wines at the LCBO

If you would like more of these premium wines from Creekside, simply call on us to arrange an order for you.


Cheers & Enjoy!


– Debbie & Savvy Team



NEWSFLASH: At last weekend’s Cuvee Awards – considered the Academy Awards for the Ontario wine industry, Creekside took home three of the top honours awarded by their peers. One of these prestigious awards was for the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc that is included in your Savvy Selections.  Enjoy!


Creekside Estates Winery

Presented by Sommelier Julie Stock

In 1998, Laura McCain Jensen (of PEI’s famous McCain family) and her husband, purchased a 15 acre site on Fourth Avenue near Jordan, in the heart of the Niagara Escarpment. Their address is actually Jordan Station, but Matt and Rob laughed saying – small as it is, no one thinks of us in the town of Jordan, “we’re three quarters of a mile out”. Ggeographically, the winery sits north on a sixteen mile creek which runs through the vineyard – hence the winery’s naturally fitting name. Laura already had some winemaking experience having owned a vineyard in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. While there was some Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc grapes already growing on the property, the vineyard was replanted with additional Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines, then Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier planted later.


Laura hired winemaker, Craig McDonald, formerly of the internationally acclaimed Penfolds Winery in Australia and Rob Power to oversee the vineyards and the vinification (winespeak: for grape growing) who had recently graduated from the Brock University Oenology and Viticulture program.  A couple of years later, Craig & Rob teamed to be a dynamic winemaking duo that in 2008, they won the distinguished Winemaker of the Year award at the Ontario Wine Awards. Just recently, Craig moved onto a different winery & Rob now heads up the winemaking with an assistant winemaker, Erin Harvey.


The winery coming together…

While the vineyards were growing, in 1999, Creekside began ramping up its farming equipment and nicknamed each one as they were put into use: “Beverley”the new crush/de-stemmer pad, “Barney”the big purple Must pump (winespeak: must refers to the mixture of grape juice, grape skins, seeds and pulp that is left over from the crusher and de-stemmer process) and “Mitsi” the harvest forklift. In 2000, the impressive barrel cellar housing 600+ barrels was built. This cellar has modern equipment, yet the charm of an old cave.


To expand, Laura purchased an additional 50 acre block on the St.David’s Bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  They named this property the Queenston Road Vineyard (QRV). The Signature Shiraz VQA 2002 was grown here & impressed many to wine an Ontario Cuvee award winner.


QVR is home for most of their premium red wine production – Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and the latest being the Malbec grape, with a couple of parcels of Chardonnay and Viognier vines. In fact the Undercurrent Malbec that we are featuring in this month’s Savvy Selections is called “Small Malbec Parcel” since it was grown on a small parcel of land and only produced 110 cases of wine. 


Name that Barrel!

Rob explains, “the numbering system typically used at wineries for organizing their barrels is very boring. Since tanks and barrels can be different sizes, we started to name the tanks depending on the row they are located in the underground cellar. Logic to some, Rob continues “For example, there are rows of tanks designated as the musical corner, some tanks are named after the Beatles. There is also a row of scientists. One tank is called Buddha on account of its rotund shape (not to mention it is a 600 litre barrel!). There are 3 voluptuous barrels named after, well never mind, you get the picture!”


It is obvious that the winemaking team has fun as it shows in the quality of the wine.  To use Rob’s words, the team is eclectic, but dedicated to experimentation, creativity and joie de vivre”.


While there are also parcels of grapes used in white wines such as the Reserve Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat,  Rob considers the Sauvignon Blanc as Creekside’s flagship wine. And the wine critics believe the same! The Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007 included in your Savvy Selections won Gold for Best Sauvignon Blanc at the 2009 Ontario Wine Awards. Interestingly, the grapes in this wine were harvested from the “Short Block” (older vines) and the remaining 47% from the “Long Block” on the eastern end of the vineyard. When looking at the label on the Uber Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007, the word “uber” stumped me.  Was it a grape that I forgotten about during my sommelier studies? When I confessed this during our interview, Matt and Rob both laughed explaining that it is a German word which means superior or better. And with a sip of this wine, I certainly tasted why Sauvignon Blanc is their flagship – outstanding.


Definitely a place to visit…

Rob and Matt certainly don’t sit still very long.  “we’re all about wine”, comments Rob.  They shared with me plans to focus more on organic viticulture, new projects while changing their labels & web site.  To experience the buzz at Creekside, be sure to visit & have relaxed lunch at The Deck.  And who knows, if you mention that you are a Savvy Selections subscriber, you might even get a chance to meet and greet Marilyn, Buddha and the new Rhythm and Blues barrels called Aretha and Marvin.




Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007, $26.95  

2007 was a Canadian winemaker’s delight with a mild winter that ensured the vines were healthy and productive during the 2007 growing season. The grape juice was 100% oak barrel fermented with a variety of yeast strains and aged for a further 10 months. Besides the oak and yeast selection, it aged on lees for 11 months which all contribute to highlighting the intense tropical character found in the grapes.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A slight greenish tinge in this polished clean pale straw coloured wine. All of the Savvy Sommeliers were impressed with the smorgasbord of aromas that results in a complex and intense nose and it is certainly unlike other Sauvignon Blanc’s we have tasted. Aromas of pineapple, gooseberry, grapefruit, grass, nuttiness and passion fruit follow through on the palate creating an elegant and silky mouthfeel with an aftertaste reminiscent of baked apple or crème caramel. The slight smoke and tropical character is no doubt the result of its having aged in oak barrels.


Suggested Food Pairing: While this wine is delicious on its own, we thought it would pair well with a light cuisine. Vietnamese spring rolls and green mango salad came to mind, and a lemon roasted chicken or steamed mussels would be perfect too.


Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or it can be cellared 3-4 years.


Undercurrent White VQA 2008
$14.95 (500mL bottle)

The production notes state that the Muscat fruit is from a tiny planting of Muscat d’Alsace at Creekside’s Butler’s Grant Vineyard. One barrel underwent natural wild fermentation, while the other barrel of Muscat was subjected to, as Rob puts it “a bizarre yeast trial” using a strain usually reserved for full-bodied red wines. The result is a unique wine of 91% Muscat, 4.5% Sauvignon Blanc and 4.5% Gewürztraminer aged 6 months in the barrel on the original ferment lees with no lees stirring. Of course, Rob adds that the undercurrent rationale was a quirky blend of “happenstance.”


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: There are few wines that conjure up the word “elegant” but this one receives the bouquet. The Savvy team all said, “WOW” after we swirled and sniffed. The wine is extremely aromatic of orange blossoms, rose petals, lychee, kiwi and apricot went to our notes. These beautiful aromas follow through on the palate creating a taste that reminded Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm of “Turkish Delights” – medium bodied with just the right amount of acidity. One Savvy Sommelier coined the finish by saying “it has a delightfully long tangerine and peach finish.”


Suggested Food Pairing: Initially, we all wanted to embellish the aromas and sip the wine on its own, but then one Savvy member said – it would be great with a quiche, or cheese soufflé, then came suggestions of proscuitto and melon and blanched almonds. The food need not be a struggle since this wine is a classy aperitif on its own. Don’t wait til summer to enjoy this treat.


Cellaring: This wine drinks well now or up to the autumn of 2012.


Undercurrent Malbec VQA 2007, $32.95

Rob tells me that, “the Creekside team have an insane desire to always try something new and make their winemaking a blend of art and science”. The Malbec grape originated in southwest France and is known for its inky dark colour and intense plum flavours. It is more at home now in Argentina and Chile where the hot climate allows it to reach its concentrated flavours. This Malbec was harvested in Niagara during October 2007, the year the grapes finally were able to show their concentration. 21 months of ageing in 100% American oak barrels. Only 110 cases were produced.

The Undercurrent wines are rarities in their limited production.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep purple, dark and definitely opaque.  Enormous concentration of blueberry, black plums, hints of licorice, cassis and sweet spice. This full-bodied beauty showcases silky soft tannins on the palate and is a stunning example of the Malbec grape – levels of richness, well balanced with a beautiful long finish of ripe dark berries.


Suggested Food Pairing: All the Savvy Sommeliers agreed to prime rib or steak with blue cheese, but any grilled red meat would be a match made in heaven.  


Cellaring: The wine drinks well now or up to 2016.



OPTIONAL PURCHASE: Undercurrent Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec VQA 2007, $32.95

Undercurrent wines show the winemaker’s penchant for experimentation. The wines are uniquely numbered and in extremely limited volumes – not to be repeated. They are advertised as being “highly collectible misfits” that won’t see the light of day for long.


The Savvy Sommeliers can understand why. Notice the word “dripper” on the label below. A “dripper” is a barrel filled from the last drops out of a red fermenter tank at the end of ferment. The free run wine is “run off” to another tank, but the skins remain in the fermenter. A hose is attached to the bottom valve of the tank and fed into a barrel and the gradual compacting of the skins as they settle squeezes out more wine which goes directly into the barrel. Due to the high skin to wine ratio and the extended contact, this “Dripper” portion tends to have a massive, but fine-grained tannic structure and enormous concentration.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Another deep purple beauty, with aromas of black plums, dark berry jam, and black pepper. On the palate these flavours carry through with some hints of figs, molasses, and a little dustiness or smoke. The tannins are pronounced with a medium, dark fruit finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Ribs came to mind along with bbq’d sausages which would be a great match to the tannins.


Cellaring: We enjoyed it now but can be cellared until 2020.



With Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007

Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Salad

From Good Friends Cookbook

Serves 4


Ingredients – Salad

2 avocados, cubed

2 mangoes, cubed

1 pound of large shrimps, cooked, shelled, deveined

1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

small head of Boston lettuce


Ingredients – Dressing

1 teaspoon ginger juice (press peeled ginger through a garlic press)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill



Place avocados, mangoes, shrimps and mushrooms in a glass salad bowl.


To make dressing, combine all dressing ingredients and shake well. Toss salad with dressing just before serving. Toss salad with 1 head of Boston lettuce torn in bite-sized pieces.


Makes a nice starter or a luncheon dish with some artisan bread.



With Undercurrent White Blend VQA 2008

Cheese Straws
From Barefoot Contessa – Barefoot in Paris

Note from Julie: These are really simple, but from my experience, folks always inhale them!



2 sheets (1 box) of frozen puff pastry, defrosted in frig overnight

1 extra large egg

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (I use dry)

1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.



Preheat oven to 375 degrees


Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until its 10 x 12 inches.


Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and some pepper.


With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavourings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.


Bake 10- 15 minutes until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake another 2 minutes. Don’t overbake or cheese will burn – cool and serve at room temperature.



With Undercurrent Malbec VQA 2007

T-Bone Steaks with Herb Garlic Butter
From Canadian Living Magazine

Serves 4



1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup mixed minced fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, parsley)

1/4 cup vermouth or marsala (optional)

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 t-bone steaks (3/4 inch thick) (rib steaks work well too)



In a food processor, blend oil herbs, vermouth if using, shallots, lemon rind and lemon juice. Brush over steaks and let stand for 30 minutes. Place steaks on greased grill over high heat, cook for 5 minutes on each side or until medium rare or desired doneness.


Remove steaks and top each with a pat of Herb Garlic butter (recipe below).



Ingredients – Herb Garlic Butter

3 tablespoons of butter softened,

1 tablespoon each minced basil, rosemary and parlsey

2 teaspoons of lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic minced  – and sprinkle of pepper



Combine, cover and chill for up to 3 days – makes about 1/3 cup


Or a delicious alternative if to combine desired amount of crumbled blue cheese with a tablespoon of horseradish, place on steaks after grilling – let it melt in and serve. Open the wine!




With Undercurrent Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec VQA 2007

Braised Lamb Shanks with Wine & Herbs
From Friday Night Dinners by Bonnie Stern

Serves 8



8 lamb shanks, trimmed

1 tablespoon of salt

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 onions, coarsely chopped

12 cloves garlic, peeled

2 cups dry red wine

2 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled chopped OR 1 28 oz. tin can plum tomatoes with juices

1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsely (optional)



Pat lamb dry and sprinkle with salt.


Heat oil in Dutch oven over med-high heat. Brown lamb well on all sides, in batches if necessary – remove from pan.


Add onions and garlic to pan and cook for a few minutes, add wine, bring to a boil and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half.


Add tomatoes and thyme and bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon. Return shanks to pan. Place parchment paper directly on the surface of the lamb. Cover with lid and cook in preheated 350 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is very tender.


Remove shanks from pan, skim any fact from surface and discard, Puree sauce in a food process or blender and return sauce to pan.


Remove lamb from bones in large chunks and return to sauce and heat thoroughly, garnish with parsley.




Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


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