Up the Creek

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There are several wineries that go by the name “Cedar Creek” including one in Wisconsin and another in British Columbia, of all places. There are several other Cedar Creeks in Australia too, but this is probably the only one you’ll find in Thailand. And it’s worth finding, believe me. Both the wines this week are red, so I’m terribly sorry, if you drink only whites, you’ll have to skip all this and move on to Khun Ocha’s Cookbook. Come back next week.

Cedar Creek High Trellis Reserve Shiraz 2008 (red), Australia. (Villa Bt. 459)

Honestly, I don’t want to bore you comatose so early in the piece, but we really should sort out the technical stuff first. The “trellis” in wine-speak refers to the stakes, posts and wires to which the grapevine is usually attached. Some vines are allowed to grow freely without any support, but the majority is supported by some kind of trellis system.

Barossa Valley, South Australia (Photo: Wine Australia). Barossa Valley, South Australia (Photo: Wine Australia).

The vine’s canopy of leaves and grape clusters are often heavy enough to bring the branches down to the ground unless there is some kind of support. We don’t need to delve into the different types of trellising, but “high trellis” simply means that the horizontal training wires are between three and six feet off the ground, thus protecting the grapes from reflected heat from the ground.

Right, we’ve got that over; now to the Shiraz (SHEE-razz). It’s a dark, rich red with hints of purple and a sweet aroma of raspberries, warm earthy spices and a subtle hint of mandarin oranges in the background. The wine has a surprisingly soft mouth-feel but it’s really full-bodied and dry, with plenty of attractive berry flavour. You might even detect the flavour of chocolate and woody spices. There’s an excellent firm foundation of soft tannin, which lingers on into the slightly oaky finish. I find this tannic touch very attractive, because it helps to firm-up the wine’s texture.

This is a well-balanced and attractive wine, and at 14% alcohol is near the top end of the scale for table wine. You’ll probably prefer it with food. The makers suggest Beef Wellington (a kind of beef en croute) char-grilled meats or pasta. Give the wine plenty of air and serve it cool.

Cedar Creek Original Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (red), Australia (Villa Bt. 459)

This really looks gorgeous. It’s a deep red with purple hues, very long legs in the glass and has a pleasing oily, expensive look. The aroma is rich and fruity, powerful and intriguing, with black berries, dark fruit, herbs and the faintest suggestion of soft spices. You might pick up a kind of woody chocolate aroma too. This is a rich, smooth and velvety wine that needs a fair bit of air contact. Give it time and you’ll be rewarded by a superb rich and fruity aroma that develops as the oxygen gets to work. The “Original Block” in the name refers to the area of first-planted grapes and therefore the oldest and best in the vineyard.

After the sweet aromas, the rich dry taste comes as a pleasant contrast. It’s full-flavoured certainly, with black berries and plummy fruit up-front and a good foundation of soft tannins. There’s a lingering finish with more hints of soft tannin and slightly oaky overtones.

Although the wine is dry, there’s the faintest hint of sweetness on the palate. But notice the year! It is already four years old and doing very well. The wine’s firm structure seems to suggest that it will soldier on for a few more years yet and improve in the process.

Wines of this type (especially like this one at 13.5% alcohol) tend to be best with food and this would make a splendid partner for roast beef dishes. The back label suggests pheasant or venison.

Actually, if someone poured me a glass of this and asked me to guess the price, purely on appearance and aroma alone, I’d put it around the Bt. 800 mark. So at Bt 459, it’s really quite a bargain. If you’re into big Ozzie-style Cabernets, you’ll almost certainly enjoy this.