Savvy Selections eZine featuring Creekside Estate Winery


Featuring Creekside Estate Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

As the song goes…they were California dreamin’. While honeymooning in Napa, California, Peter Jensen and his wife, Laura McCain Jensen, fell in love with the wine culture. So much so that shortly after their honeymoon, they launched into the wine industry by purchasing an existing winery in Nova Scotia – Blomidon Ridge Estate (they since sold this winery).  In 1998, they turned their focus to the Niagara region and founded Creekside Estate Winery. They bought multiple acres of vineyards and two farms that they transformed into a state-of-the-art winery with one of Canada’s largest underground barrel cellars designed in a classic old-world style.  Their California dream has certainly turned into a winery that is making an impression in the Canadian wine industry.


In this month’s Savvy Selections, you will find a wide-ranging assortment of fine wines:
– Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2006 – made in the Fume Blanc style (lightly oaked)
– Laura White VQA 2007 – a delicious medium bodied white blend showcasing the spectacular vintage of 2007
– Laura Red VQA 2006 – a complex blend of Bordeaux varietals.


In addition, we couldn’t resist offering you two special features: Broken Press Shiraz and a small-batch Pinot Gris Select Late Harvest with a lovely balance of apple cider-like fruit flavors and refreshing acidity.

This past weekend at the prestigious Cuvee Awards & Gala – the Academy of Awards for the Ontario wine industry – Creekside was honoured with three awards including Gold for Best Shiraz/Syrah for the 2006 Broken Press Shiraz (one of the extra wines offered in this months Savvy Selections). There is a great story associated with the name and its unique blend that is not typical to Ontario. During the pressing of a batch of Viognier grapes, the small basket press broke.  Undaunted, Creekside’s winemaking team of Rob Powers and Craig McDonald creatively decided to create a northern Rhone-style wine by adding a small percentage of Viognier to the existing bins of Shiraz that were already awaiting fermentation. As I learned recently from another Australian winemaker, it is believed that a chemical reaction between the Viognier and Shiraz releases a range of subtle nuances in the wine. This spontaneous decision by Creekside’s winemakers produced a delicious, outstanding and award winning wine that rivals Rhone and Australian Shiraz made in the similar fashion.


We hope you enjoy your selections of wines.  Let us know if you would like to re-order Creekside wines or those from previously featured wineries. 


– Debbie & Savvy Team
Debbie Trenholm
Accredited Sommelier & President


Creekside Estate Winery
presented by Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins

When I visited Creekside Estate Winery last summer, the retail and wine tasting facilities were under renovation.  The original facility was bursting at the seams with visitors, yet the new architectural plans on display promises to double the space while retaining its casual comfortable character.  In addition, a deck welcomes you to stop by on a summer weekend to enjoy lunch with a glass Creekside’s wines.  And, you might just get a sip of Undercurrent – a new product line to be launched this year. 


Rob Power and Craig McDonald were named chief winemakers in 2001, after working as assistant winemakers to Marcus Ansems, Creekside’s original winemaker. Says Matt Loney, Director of Marketing at Creekside, “Rob and Craig’s palates are in sync.  Together they bring a complementary background and experience to making wines at Creekside.”


The Dynamic Winemaking Duo
Craig McDonald was training to be an accountant when he took a summer job at a winery.  That summer job sparked an interest in winemaking and soon turned into a permanent position. From there, the Australian’s career has spanned nine different wineries around the globe, including the highly acclaimed Penfolds Winery in Australia.  Rob Power’s early experience in the wine industry was as a sommelier.  He became so fascinated in wine, that he enrolled in Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute and was a member of its first graduating class.


Craig and Rob’s combined winemaking talent has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades including the prestigious award for Winemakers of the Year in 2008. Laura McCain Jensen asserts, “I’ve said all along that Creekside is committed to making the best damn wines in Ontario. I’m so proud of my team.” 


With this enthusiasm and commitment from the owners and a clearly understood philosophy by everyone in the Creekside team, crafting premium quality wine is achievable.  They winemakers start with careful vineyard management with a proactive approach to maintain the health of the vines and the grapes.  For instance, when rain is forecasted – water effects the concentration of sugar in the fruit – they consider thinning the crop in advance of the storms.


While the Creekside team uses unique estate-grown grapes such as Malbec and Viognier, they also have a number of contracts with grape growers in different Niagara microclimates and terroirs. These contracts give them access to unique opportunities too. For instance, the Pinot Gris Select Late Harvest wine (one of the additional wines offered) resulted from an unusual batch of grapes that a grower left on the vine late into the harvest.  Rob and Craig took hold of this opportunity and crafted a unique and delicious sweet wine that has received rave reviews…cult status some would say! 


While Peter and Laura, as owners, set overall goals for the winery, they have provided the winemakers creative freedom, as well as the resources and opportunity to undertake small-batch experiments.  Rob explains, “Craig and I, along with our incredible staff, put a lot of passion into our work and with the support of the owners who make sure we have the tools and the grapes we need, the result is consistently great wine that we are all proud of.”


There are many examples of experimentation by this team.  When they incorporated the remaining Viognier grapes into the Shiraz, scribbled on the barrel was “Rotie”.  With the combination of grapes similar to that of the Côte Rotie wines of the northern Rhone, they used this label until the wine was formally named after the story on page one – Broken Press Shiraz.  Another example is while the original style of Sauvignon Blanc produced at the winery was a crisp New Zealand style with fresh citrus and green characteristics (think herbs and freshly mowed lawn), for the 2004 vintage they decided to try a Fumé Blanc style by barrel aging the wine in French oak to create more tropical notes, while retaining the crisp acidity characteristic of Creekside’s white wines.  So successful was this experiment, it won a gold medal at the Challenge International du Vin, France’s oldest wine competition. 


We are excited to share with you the 2006 vintage of this wine in the Savvy Selections.

Experimentation will manifest with a new product line – Undercurrent – to be launched this year.  This will be unique small-batch wines that will be available only at the winery – now there is reason enough to visit!



~Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 VQA, $18.95

A unique award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, this dry wine was produced with grapes sourced from several vineyards in the Niagara Peninsula.  A portion of the juice was fermented in French oak, while the balance was fermented in stainless.  The wines were then aged in barrel for 9 months.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A remarkable, aromatic wine with an intense nose with hints of sweet herbs, toasted coconut, a touch of smoke and citrus.  Medium-bodied, it has a refreshing acidity, bright citrus flavors and a pleasant slight bitterness on the long finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine chilled, with a goat cheese appetizer, seafood, or grilled white fish.


Cellaring:  No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now. It can cellar for up to 2 years.


Creekside Estate Laura Red 2006 VQA, $19.95

Another signature wine from this winery, Laura’s Red assemblage (winespeak: blend) includes the typical Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.  The wine was aged for a period of 18 months in a combination of American and French oak.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep red, this wine displays aromas of smoke, plum, herbs and a whiff of cooca. Full-bodied, the bright red fruit was matched by tart acidity and firm tannins.  The long finish had notes of char, smoke and herbs.  TIP: Have a sip, then, leave it for awhile to notice how the aromas evolve & change!


Suggested Food Pairing: A food wine, it would be ideally paired with boeuf bourgignon, grilled bison or venison, or try Susan’s simple recipe for Italian meatballs in tomato sauce below


Cellaring: This may be enjoyed now, decanted, but the firm tannins will mellow as it cellars for 3-5 years.

Creekside Estate Laura White 2007 VQA, $17.95
2007 blessed winemakers with a growing season that was heralded by many as a ‘vintner’s dream’. This white wine is an unusual blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier and Riesling. Each of the varietals were vinified separately – some were fermented or aged in old French oak barrels, others in stainless steel.  After 9 months of aging, the wines were assembled into this unique blend.  


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  “This wine reminds me of some southern Rhone white blends that I tasted a few years ago – beautiful body and fabulous flavors”, commented Susan during the tasting panel.  The wine has intense complex aromas of sweet citrus, flowers and exotic fruits. Generous and full-bodied, the luscious fruit flavors are well-balanced with fresh and lingering acidity. 


Suggested Food Pairing: The Sommeliers involved in the tasting panel felt that this wine would pair best with a good book!  Enjoy on its own, or with roast chicken, pork, seafood or slightly spicy dishes would work very well.


Cellaring: You’ll want to drink it all now.  Of course, if you have more than one bottle, you could hold it to see how the flavors evolve!


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA…

Halibut with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Recipe from The Ottawa Citizen
Serves 4-6



1 ½ lbs halibut fillets, cut into 8 pieces (skin removed)
sea salt & freshyly ground pepper
½ C all-purpose flour
4-6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped shallots
¼ C small capers, rinsed & drained
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley



Season halibut well on both sides with salt & pepper.  Place flour in a pie plate.  Place 2 Tbsp oil in a 12” non-stick skillet of medium-high heat.


Dip 4 pieces of fish in flour & place in hot skillet.  Cook, turning once, until fish is opaque & edges are golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a warm platter (or place in warm oven).  Add more oil to skillet, if necessary, and repeat with remaining fish.


After fish is cooked, add remaining 2 Tbsp oil, shallots & capers to skillet.  Saute 1 minute, until shallots are golden.  Add lemon juice & zest, and bring to a boil.  Simmer 1 minute; add ¼ tsp salt & a pinch of pepper.  Remove from heat, swirl in butter & parsley.  Spoon over fish, serve & enjoy!   



With Creekside Estate Laura White VQA…

Crispy Pork Medallions
Recipe adapted from Oils & Vinegars, by Jean-Francois Plante
Serves 4-6



2 pork tenderloins, sliced diagonally approx 2” thick
¼ extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard



Assemble the olive oil, shallot, herbs and mustard in a glass dish.  Mix well together.  Add the sliced pork and stir to cover with the marinade.  Refrigerate & marinate for 2-4 hours.


Heat oven to 400F.   


Place breadcrumbs in a bowl.  Stir each piece of marinated pork in the bowl to cover lightly with breadcrumbs.


Place the breaded pork medallions on a non-stick baking sheet.


Bake for approx 15 minutes, or until the medallions are just pink in the centre.  Remove from oven and serve with herbed roast sweet potatoes and green beans.


With Creekside Estate Laura Red VQA…
Polpettine Rifatte
Recipe adapted from My Tuscany Lorenza de’ Medici
Serves 6


1 ¼ – 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
2 handfuls fresh, coarse country bread crumbs, soaked in milk for about 5 mins & squeezed dry
½ lb fresh sausage meat – approx 2 sausages, try mild Italian
1 finely chopped shallot
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaved parsley
2 eggs
1 C dry breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can Italian tomatoes, pureed
Fresh basil leaves to taste, chopped
1 large mild onion, thinly sliced


In a bowl, mix beef with the soft breadcrumbs, sausage meat, shallot, parsley and egg until well blended.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Form meatballs the size of extra-large eggs.  Coat well in dry breadcrumbs and place on a baking sheet.


Heat oven to 400F.  Cook meatballs for approximately 25 minutes.


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and fry until barely golden.  Add the tomato puree and cook for a few minutes.  Add the chopped basil and salt or pepper to taste.  Add the meatballs.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on low heat, turning them delicately a couple of time.  If the tomato sauce becomes too thick, add a little water.


Arrange the meatballs on a platter and serve.  They may be accompanied by fresh Ciabatta bread and stir-fired or roasted vegetables (zucchini, onion, carrots, mushrooms).


Cheers & Enjoy!

When you would like to order additional Creekside wines or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, simply contact the Savvy Team and we will organize a shipment for you.





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