Creekside came out of the gates in 1997 with a 15-acre vineyard on the Niagara Peninsula near Jordan. They did things a little differently by putting major stock into two grape varieties that few others did: Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. The winery grew and eventually 50 acres of vineyards were added on St. David's Bench, which was named Queenston Road Vineyard. Their plantings include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Viognier. They also work with growers to offer other varieties in their portfolio.
The winery does a lot with Sauvignon Blanc and it runs the stylistic gamut from bright and fresh examples like the 2013 Estate or the 2013 Backyard Block, to the richer and creamier oak-aged versions like the 2012 Reserve or the 2007 Uber, which comes from their Undercurrent line (rarities and one-offs produced in quantities of less than 100 cases).
Creekside considers Syrah to be their flagship grape variety—and with good reason—the examples they produce are very impressive. Winemaker Rob Power makes Syrah that is influenced by the Northern Rhône. Since 2012, the labels have switched from Shiraz to Syrah. During the early days of the winery, consumers understood Shiraz (the shelves were flooded with it), but consumers today are savvier and the stylistic distinction is important. Power's skill with Syrah makes a compelling case for the grape's place in Niagara, especially with his reserve label Broken Press Syrah. It's a blend of 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier all harvested from the Queenston Road Vineyard and it has turned many heads. I tasted the 2011 and, while I felt it could use a little extra aging, I loved the balanced layers of spice and pepper, floral violets notes, and ripe purple fruit. The Estate 2013 Syrah is also nicely concentrated with the grape's characteristic black pepper and wild herb notes. It is a bottle brimming with value at $16.
Another place where Creekside offers tremendous value is through two wines that ring up for less than $20: Laura's White 2012, an aromatic, refreshing blend that is mostly Sauvignon Blanc, and Laura's Red 2011, which is a Bordeaux blend with the addition of Syrah. The red is great if you're looking for something juicy and fruit-driven, yet still floral and bright.
Pick up something now from Creekside, or next time you're in Jordan, drop in for a tour and enjoy lunch and a glass of wine on their patio.
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.