Naramata Bench's Upper Bench Estate Winery has 6 new releases for the new year. They range from a masculine, single-vineyard Merlot to a light and fruity Pinot Blanc (with a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay somewhere in-between).
Look for cheese pairings for each of the wines on their website that are produced at their own Creamery, run by the winemaker's wife, Shana Miller.
2014 Pinot Blanc - $19
Sadly, not a lot of Pinot Blanc is produced and released as a single varietal in BC - more should be. It usually makes a leaner, fresher and subtler wine than its more rambunctious cousin, Pinot Gris. And that's exactly what you get with the Upper Bench, stainless-steel fermented version: crisp acidity, fresh, clean orchard fruit flavours, subtle, delicate aromatics and a balanced, refreshing finish with a touch of lingering citrus peel and spice.
2014 Riesling - $22
'Beauty and the Beast' may best describe the dichotomy of this Upper Bench Riesling. Opens with a delicate nose of nectarine, apricot, pear and steely, lemon/lime aromas, followed by a racy, mouth-watering palate bursting with bright, Granny Smith apple acidity and flavours. Citrus and stonefruit notes add depth while hints of sweet, orchard fruit help to balance the apple-rind infused, short-ish finish.
2014 Chardonnay - $25
A consistently well produced Chardonnay that is full-bodied and loaded with juicy orchard fruit flavours and tangy citrus acidity which invigorate the palate and begs, no, demands to be paired with smoky Gouda cheese. Finish is long and mineral-y with rich, leesy brioche notes and some lingering spice. Enjoy now or over the next 2 years (and don't forget the Gouda).
2013 Pinot Noir - $28
A terroir-driven, earthy Pinot with prominent oak influence on the rustic, spicy-raspberry nose and on the dry, full-ish palate where wild berry acidity leaves you salivating for the next sip. Finishes long but slightly astringent, with residual, dusty tannins and lingering blue fruit and dry herb flavours. Ready to be enjoyed now and will hold for a few years.
2013 Yard Wine - $30
A robust and rustic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, co-fermented and aged for 20 months in 30% new French oak prior to bottling. Needs ample decanting before the nose opens up to reveal layers of brambly dark fruit, sweetened soil and vanilla-chocolate toast. The palate is big and nasty with lingering, blueberry purée and chocolate-covered coffee bean flavours, lip-smacking acidity and grippy tannins that edge towards raspy.
2013 Four Shadows Vineyard Merlot - $TBA
A masculine Merlot with a cool-berry, menthol and earthy-oak profile on its generous nose and dry, dusty-tannin palate. Notes of licorice, briquettes, vanilla and dark chocolate-cherry are present to add depth and intrigue for your senses. Finish is long and grippy. Age this one for another year before diving in.
Get To Know... Gavin Miller