Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 2010 - 3rd Niagara Trip: 3 Tasted of 3

I had intended to visit Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery  (Map it!) the previous day, May 20th, but the winery wasn’t open at the time I had left Fielding Estate. As Bacchus would have it my BH was looking for a piece of furniture - this quest took us to Stoney Creek on the 21st. Without any prompting she suggested we had time to visit one winery. Ah ha! Hidden Bench it was. (Click on photos for larger view)

Hidden Bench with neighbouring vineyards on the Niagara Escarpment slope is a terroir driven, small cuvée winery. Production is approximately 5000 cases but with what appears to be plans to double the number of vines this may increase in the future. From the visitor’s card … “Recognized as the best winery in Ontario in its first year of operation (2007 Canadian Wine Awards) … quickly established itself as one of Canada’s top, ultra-premium wineries.”

Winemakers Jay Johnston and Jean Martin Bouchard believe in the artisanal approach to wine making - letting vines and terroir guide their results. For each of their wines how vineyards are maintained, the hand sorting of grape clusters and grapes and the meticulous care throughout fermentation is described on the website.

A flight of three Estate wines ($10) provided tastings of their 2007 Estate Chardonnay, 2008 Roman’s Block Riesling, 2007 Estate Pinot Noir and, an extra, 2007 Terroir Cache - Red Meritage. All were exceptional wines reflecting the non-interventionist techniques followed to produce them. A constrained supply and demand from their faithful ‘wine club members’ is possibly how 'ultra-premium' prices are maintained - or not!

Hidden Bench is one of the seven wineries participating in  the ’Graze the Bench’ event June 5th and 6th… and yes, I now have our Passports ($25ea.) for ‘Graze the Bench‘ days. 

Well over my budget only three wines made it home for a more leisurely tasting.  Cheers, Ww
  • Hidden Bench Estate ‘Felseck Vineyard’ Gewurztraminer 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 92-1  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $31.70
  • Hidden Bench Estate ‘Roman’s Block’ Riesling VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-1  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $35.90 
  • Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 90  --  O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $36.95
(O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench Estate, Beamsville, Ontario, 14.3% D, #Winery $36.95  (Tasted June 1, 2010)

The website describes this chardonnay as “Lovely yellow golden straw colour. A sophisticated and complex nose showing aromas of dried fig, cantaloupe, sweet ginger, cloves, roasted almonds with a touch of smokey minerality. The 2007 Estate Chardonnay is a rich wine with a sensuous texture and finesse. The wine shows intense aromas of dried figs, white peaches and spicy ginger touch on the generous finish…” “grapes from Rosomel, Locust Lane and Felseck vineyards, cropped to less than 2 tonnes per acre.” My notes:A light golden colour with a spicy scent of ripe figs, browned butter and touch of vanilla sets up bright flavours of figs and white peach with a full-in-the-mouth finish through to a dry end. The oak treatment adds dimension while soft fruit paints the background. An early californian style but lighter being medium-bodied - a sipper for a wine group looking for a difference. Have with grilled bacon wrapped scallops or smoked salmon on toasts. Cellar for a few years to further integrate and develop depth  - a chardonnay for the future. 90

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE `ROMAN`S BLOCK` RIESLING 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 10.0% D, #Winery $35.90  (Tasted June 2, 2010)
The winemaker's comments are “A brilliant appearance with pale yellow straw colour. Classic and intense Riesling aromatics with hints of yellow grapefruit, lime, honey and a flinty minerality. The palate is vibrant and shows great depth of flavours. This concentrated wine has a core of yellow pomello with candied citrus and lime. An austere wine that shows great finesse, power, beautiful balance and an extraordinary length. These are trademark characteristics of the Rosomel Vineyard, specifically Roman's Block terroir.” My notes: Cold baked apple comes to mind with the first sniff: delicate, a lemon accent not sweet and a touch of pineapple, almost floral. The colour is a light golden close to blond and a swirl leaves an even film receding slowly then showing a few slow tears. The first sip is very bright, tart apple and lime flavours behind a stringent backbone. The finish is long declining slowly with remnants of almost ripe grapefruit, lemon and dry as chalk. An interesting somewhat rude sipper, perhaps young yet. Cellar three to four years or have with fresh oysters, braised tiger prawns or grilled chicken legs. 91

HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE `FELSECK VINEYARD` GEWURZTRAMINER 2009 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 14.5% D, #Winery $31.70  (Tasted May 28, 2010)
The winemaker's comments are “Bright golden straw colour with a vibrant and lifted nose of lavender, fresh lychee and signature ginger note this wine shows each vintage. This is a very concentrated and fleshy wine with cleansing acidity and a persistant finish. This terroir wine has aromas, flavours and structure that are true to the Felseck Vineyard.”  My notes: Just a touch of spritz as attested by fine bubbles on the glass, a light golden nearing blond and a mild, pleasing floral scent edged with ginger gives an appealing first impression.  The first sip has a medium-bodied smoothness, a balanced sugar and tang, a mix of tropical fruit and warmth to go along with a long luscious finish. Served well chilled or allowed to go off chill this doesn`t disappoint at a family or social event. Also a white to go with sushi, Thai or varied Chinese buffet. Cellar up to two years possibly longer or save for those summer days on the patio with salty chips or anchovy striped focaccia slices. To be decadent throw in a lime slice and a cube.  92

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