Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Somewhereness 2013: Hidden Bench

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Founded in 2008, Hidden Bench favours a sustainable approach in the vineyard and a non-interventionist approach in the winery, including indigenous yeast fermentations and the avoidance of harsh procedures like pumping. With nearly 50 acres currently in production, it offers something for just about everyone: Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Sémillon, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

Chardonnay 2011, Estate, Beamsville Bench VQA, Hidden Bench ($39.67, Le Maître de Chai, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chardonnay. Manually harvested, whole-cluster pressed. The juice was cold-settled for 24 hours, then racked into French oak barrels (20% new) for spontaneous fermentation and partial malolactic, with weekly stirring of the lees. Selected barrels were blended and lightly filtered before bottling. 13.5% ABV.
Candied lemon, pear and oak spice. Round and full without being plump, thanks in part to the sustained acidity. Less fruity than the nose might lead you to believe. Chalk and lemon linger into a long finish whose scents put me in mind of a hay loft. (Buy again? At the Ontario price of $28.75, sure.)

Pinot Noir 2010, Estate, Beamsville Bench VQA, Hidden Bench ($40.93, Le Maître de Chai, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. Manually harvested. Cold-soaked in small lots for five to eight days, followed by spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts and punch-downs of the cap three to four times a day. After alcoholic fermentation, the free-run juice was gravity-drained into barrels while the skins were pressed. Malolactic fermentation took place in the barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV.
Fragrant, Burgundian nose of red berries, cherry, beet, spice and even some forest floor. Medium-bodied and supple yet also quite concentrated and intense, with ripe fruit, discreet oak, lacy tannins, refreshing acidity and the requisite depth, breadth and length, not to mention poise and balance. A delight. (Buy again? It’s a bit pricey but yes.)

Pinot Noir 2010, Felseck Vineyard, Beamsville Bench VQA, Hidden Bench ($44.73, Le Maître de Chai, 6 bottles/case)
100% Pinot Noir. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Transferred to five-ton oak fermenters and cold-soaked for eight days, followed by spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts and punch-downs of the cap three to four times a day. After alcoholic fermentation, the free-run juice was gravity-drained into barrels while the skins were pressed. Malolactic fermentation took place in the barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV.
Compared with the Estate, darker (slate and plum), meatier and richer on the nose. Similarly medium-bodied and full-flavoured but also more minerally and structured. The tannins in particular are tighter and more obvious, bordering on rustic. With certain depth and real length, the wine definitely has presence. Yet, for now at least, it’s less integrated and coherent, less a whole, more a sum of its parts. Maybe what it’s lacking is time. (Buy again? A bottle or two to see how it ages.)

Pinot Noir 2009, Locust Lane Vineyard, Beamsville Bench VQA, Hidden Bench ($55.00 at the winery)
100% Pinot Noir. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Transferred to five-ton oak fermenters and cold-soaked for ten days, followed by spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts and punch-downs of the cap three to four times a day. After alcoholic fermentation, the free-run juice was gravity-drained into barrels while the skins were pressed. Malolactic fermentation took place in the barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV.
All kinds of tertiary aromas (leafmould, smoke, game) along with the expected berries, cherry and spice. The driest and most serious of the three Pinots. Supple but sinewy. The concentrated ripe fruit is heady with floral overtones and a bit heavy with oak. Firm tannins and vibrant acidity give structure and shape, a dark mineral vein depth. Underbrush scents the long finish. While I found myself wondering whether the winery is pushing too hard, there’s no denying that this is an impressive effort. Revisit in four or five years and hope the fruit has outlasted the tannins and oak. (Buy again? A bottle to open on Canada’s 150th.)

Terroir Caché 2009, Red Meritage, Beamsville Bench VQA, Hidden Bench ($40.93, Le Maître de Chai, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Manually harvested. Destemmed. Cold-soaked for seven to ten days. The varieties were fermented separately (with indigenous yeasts), with regular racking and returning. Macerated on the skins another ten to 14 days after fermentation, then gravity-drained into barrels (a mix of new and old French oak) for 16 months’ malolactic fermentation and maturation. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. 13.5% ABV.
Complex, engaging nose: dark fruit, spice, graphite, oak, underbrush bordering on garrigue. Medium- to full-bodied. Fundamentally savoury despite the sweet, ripe fruit that’s beautifully balanced by bright acidity and an airframe structure. Good length with some chocolate and oak chiming in. (Buy again? Yes, especially at the winery/LCBO price of $32.75.)

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Written by carswell

November 19, 2013 at 17:59

2 Responses

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  1. The Pinot Noir Estate is back, this time at the SAQ (well the 2012 arrived last year at the SAQ too) with a nicer price of $35.50.

    Monsieur Antoine

    March 30, 2016 at 13:15

    • Thanks for the heads-up, M. Antoine. One of the reasons the price is cheaper than the 2010 is that a wine is always more expensive when it’s a private import than when it’s sold at the SAQ.

      carswell

      March 30, 2016 at 13:21


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