Friday, March 04, 2011

March 2011 Beamsville Trip: 11 Tasted of 11

Click on the Google links to follow the WineRoute along the Twenty Valley region of the Niagara Peninsula. The day was quiet, sunny and windswept and as the solitary taster I had private tutelage at each of three wineries.
Using the Methode Traditionelle the Angels Gate  Archangel series of bubblies were of interest… then on to Fielding Estates  to taste two 2010 releases, a 2007 and 2009.  (Google coordinates are approximate).
The third winery was Hidden Bench  where premium wines were chosen to show prominence of single vineyard terroirs: Felseck for riesling and chardonnay and Locust Lane for Pinot Noir. 

That’s as much as my budget allowed this trip.  

Cheers, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, sparkles and other:

  • Hidden Bench ‘Locust Lane Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 92  --  W, Beamsville, Ontario, $65.00

  • Hidden Bench `Felseck Vineyard` Riesling 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 95-2 --  W, Beamsville, Ontario, $32.00
  • Hidden Bench `Felseck Vineyard` Riesling 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 93-2 --  W, Beamsville, Ontario, $32.00
  • Hidden Bench ‘Felseck Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 93-2  --  W, Beamsville, Ontario, $38.00
  • Fielding Estates ‘Jack Rabbit Flats Vineyard’ Chardonnay Musqué 2010  VQA Lincoln Lakeshore,  90-2  --  W,  $16.95
  • Fielding Estates Viognier 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  89  --  W, Beamsville, Ontario, $30.95

  • Fielding Estates Rosé 2010  VQA Niagara Peninsula,  88-1  --  W, Beamsville, Ontario, $15.95

  • Angels Gate ‘Archangel’ Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  90-1  --  W, Beamsville, Ontario, $25.00
  • Angels Gate ‘Archangel’ Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula,  87  --  W, Beamsville, Ontario,  $19.95   
  • Angels Gate ‘Archangel’ Chardonnay Brut 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82  --  G, Beamsville, Ontario, #227009  $19.95 

  • Fielding Estates 'Zuzek Vineyard' Select Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench,  84  --  W,  $23.95 (375mL)

(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, W - Winery, r-v - Rating-Value)

ANGELS GATE ‘ARCHANGEL’ CHARDONNAY BRUT 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% XD, #227009  $19.95  (Tasted March 9, 2011)  CS
My notes: From 100% chardonnay grapes and produced using the traditional method of secondary fermentation in the bottle (~2 lbs.)  with a total of twelve months on lees before disgorgement. There’s not much of a nose, not even a slight yeast or leesy scent, for a chard brut. There’s lots of midsize bubbles that effervesce followed by a stream of fine bubbles then a firm spritz - not mousseux. The flavours also are restrained with a light grapefruit and apple, tart and dry on the palate leaving the dryness to coat the tongue. Lacking the flavour of the pinot this is more of an economical toasting bubbly - not a sipper. Have with fresh oysters or grilled fresh water fish or scallops. A drink now.  82

ANGELS GATE ‘ARCHANGEL’ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% XD, $19.95  (Tasted March 21, 2011)

My notes: This Archangel was not found on the Angels Gate website - no ‘Brut’ on the label but it’s chalk dry from the first sip. A slight yeasty scent to mostly a clean citrus nose. The colour is a yellow blond and foam bursts on pouring then settles into a stream of fine bubbles - not mousseux but lively. Flavours are a tart apple and pie crust from start to a finish that carries the spritz and apple for a long while. Cellaring a few years may be marginally rewarding although the bubbly will likely be available yearly in limited quantities at the winery. No gooseberries or passion fruit here but a refreshing bubbly for many occasions.  87

ANGELS GATE ‘ARCHANGEL’ PINOT NOIR ROSÉ BRUT 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.5% XD, $25.00  (Tasted March 8, 2011)

 Bronze Medal - Intervin 2010

My notes: 100% Pinot Noir grapes from the Mountainview vineyard, hand picked and spent one hour in skin contact before pressing. The finished wine was fermented a second time in bottle and then aged on lees for twelve months before disgorging.  Only 200 cases bottled. A crisp salmon pink in the glass with a rush of effervescence and a continuous stream of fine bubbles and hidden spritz. There’s a slight strawberry nose, a CO2 edge and a thin film that leaves a lacy rim making this festive even before a sip. Drying on the palate, serve chilled to blend a pleasing acid with delicate strawberry and watermelon flavours. A moderate finish demands a followup sip. This would make a great Spring toaster for an early wedding or have with waffles and mixed fruits as a reward for making through the evening before.  90

HIDDEN BENCH ‘LOCUST LANE VINEYARD’ PINOT NOIR 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.8% D,  $65.00  (Tasted March 30, 2011)

“The first vintage of two single vineyard bottlings of our primary varietal, Pinot Noir.” says the back label and  a  “… yield of only 1.3 tonnes/acre. …  aged 16 months in French oak and bottled without fining or filtration.”  My notes:  A dense not opaque ruby with a firm film cascading a rim of slow tears. A blackberry tang with evenly matched cherries gives a smooth, delicately spicy floral nose. Medium-bodied, nicely tart blackberry flavours with balanced tannins for an extra dry sipper finishing dry with a berry ending. A well-made elegant sipper and a good companion for prime rib, French onion soup or lightly spiced tapas. Cellaring for several years may introduce more silk at the expense of fruit. A thought: could this be a blend?  92
HIDDEN BENCH ‘FELSECK VINEYARDS’ RIESLING 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench,  Beamsville, Ontario, 10.8%  D,  $32.00  (Tasted March 26, 2011)

One of three single vineyard rieslings in 2007 (Roman’s Block, Rosomel and Felseck) and grapes  from “the very best single block lots... hand harvested and sorted.”  My notes: I chose successive vintages to reveal a possible difference of growing seasons, 2007 and 2008. The 2007 has a mid new gold appearance, crystal clear, and sheds a lacy film with a few tears spreading then fading slowly.  The nose is of lime, soft lavender and possibly flint adding up to tangy, lightly floral presence. Full-bodied and dry with an astringency that outperforms the fruit: mostly lime and grapefruit. The finish continues on a tangy note finally revealing subtle petrol.  Complex in character and changing during the tasting giving much interest as a sipper  and would be an excellent partner to a mixed seafood platter. I suggest cellaring several years although drinking well now.  95
HIDDEN BENCH ‘FELSECK VINEYARDS’ RIESLING 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench,  Beamsville, Ontario, 10.8%  D,   $32.00  (Tasted March 26, 2011)

Reduced from three to two single vineyard rieslings in the 2008 vintage the same care in hand harvesting, sorting, whole bunch pressing and fermentation”  My notes: Hidden Bench uses only native yeasts and sustainable vineyard management. If any the 2008 is a slightly deeper mid new gold than the 2007.  There’s the same firmness in the film and the resulting laciness but none or negligible tears. An almost BRETT aspect to the nose, delicate and appealing nonetheless, and with the same drying astringency in the first sip. Full-bodied with lime and pastry as flavours and leaving the palate refreshed. An excellent amuse-bouche between courses or partner to a mixed seafood platter as is the 2007.  Cellaring for several years possible, even recommended.  Drinking well now for sure.  93
HIDDEN BENCH ‘FELSECK VINEYARDS’ CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 14.2% D,   $38.00  (Tasted March 14, 2011)

My notes: It’s the first year for this single vineyard barrel fermented Chardonnay. The vines are older than 15 years and cropped to 2 tonnes per acre. There’s a glistening gold with a suspicion of butterscotch in the colour and in the first sip. There’s a polite nose on pouring without distinguishable scent nor spice, perhaps needing time to develop. A swirl gives a firm film with a continuous rim of slow tears. The texture is a luscious light butter, very smooth, a drying touch lasting through a long delicate warming finish and soft blend of pineapple and sweet apple with some oak showing on the trailing edge. Have on any occasion or with naturally seasoned seafoods - particularly scallops, lobster or King crab. Cellaring for three years is likely conservative - a green bottle (at .8 kg) and a good natural cork length should slow change.  93


FIELDING ESTATES VIOGNIER 2009 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.5% D,  $30.95    (Tasted March 22, 2011)

Sourced from two low-yielding vineyards, the grapes were picked and sorted by hand, de-stemmed and gently pressed. After cold settling for five days, clear juice was racked and fermented slowly in stainless steel for twenty-five days. Aged post-fermentation in stainless steel without malo-lactic fermentation, kept on light lees for three months until final filtration and bottling. Natalie MacLean gave it 92 saying “Jumps out of the glass and pulls you head first!….”   My notes:  The nose is a garden of honeysuckle at full blossom, sweetly aromatic. The colour is a pale blond with a suspicion of green and a swirl is without a noticeable film. Light-bodied, there’s a herbaceous seam and a lime tang forming a framework for tart apple and lime flavours, dry on the lips, ending increasingly but lightly grassy at the end. Aromas carry into the flavour adding a floral element to sipping (like dining beside someone wearing cologne). Have with grilled cod or halibut with a squeeze of lemon and rice. A drink now.  89
FIELDING ESTATES ROSÉ  2010 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D, $15.95  (Tasted March 6, 2011)

A blend of 47% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 25% Pinot Noir and 3% Syrah. Each grape variety was pressed off their skins after 24 - 48 hours of cold-soaking, then the juice was cold settled for another three days. The juice was fermented at cool temperatures using selected yeasts in stainless steel, followed by aging for two months on its lees in stainless steel. Cold stabilized, sterile filtered. Bottled and release on March 1, 2011.  My notes:  There’s a salmon tinge to a fresh pink colour and a scent of a summer bouquet. The film leaves a lacy edge as it recedes quickly and the first sip is evenly balanced tartness and silky fruit. Serve well chilled and let go offchill for more smoothness and blended flavours of delicate strawberry and white cherries. Finishes dry with significant softness - a chiller is recommended. Very interesting as a summer sipper or have with pan fried fresh water fish filets. A coquetish drink now.  88
FIELDING ESTATES `JACK RABBIT FLATS VINEYARD` CHARDONNAY MUSQUÉ 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D,  $16.95   (Tasted March 6, 2011)

My notes: A crisp light blond colour and mild aromas of sweet muscat. A thin film with long legs and the first sip has a mellow taste of melon and delicate apricot, more chardonnay than musqué and extra dry except for a delectable softness to the tang. This makes a pleasing social sipper served chilled - or have with roast chicken, a cheesy macaroni dish or clams in a yellow curried sauce. Keeping a year or two likely isn’t expected but I think it’ll keep that long with some benefit. A good expression of the Lincoln Lakeshore terroir? --  it’s worth repeating.  90

FIELDING ESTATES `ZUZEK VINEYARD` SELECT LATE HARVEST GEWURZTRAMINER 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 10.0%  MS,   $23.95  (375mL)    (Tasted March 23, 2011)

My notes:  A light gold in the glass with a thin film that recedes quickly. A delicate honey pear nose and the first sip sweetly coats the mouth carrying light flavours of Bosc pear, Pink Lady apple and just a touch of acid. The sweetness slowly fades giving more prominence to fruit and a mild tang. We opened this in the late afternoon as a refresher… and it was. Have with a plate of salty crackers when things are going especially well… which could be anytime!  Didn’t pair well with a tray of chocolates.    84

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