The New West Quay, overlooking the Fraser River, was the venue for the latest Naramata Bench wine release in the Vancouver area. The number of wineries has increased each year that I have attended this event. I did not count, but there was probably somewhere around 24 wineries in attendance.
Where and what is the Naramata Bench? This is a raised long, relatively narrow strip of level or gently inclined land that is bounded by distinctly steeper slopes above and below it. For the Naramata Bench, the area below it is Okanagan Lake. As the lake is so close the water helps to moderate the temperature for the grapes. The Bench is located on the eastern side of the lake so that it gets the afternoon and evening sun, and is located just north of Penticton, so it is an easy wine destination to visit when you are in Penticton.
What were my interesting wine picks from this evening’s event?
White Wine Picks
Poplar Grove Pinot Gris 2011. This Pinot Gris was really surprising. It had none of the peachy / stone fruit flavours that I normally expect from a Pinot Gris. This wine instead had lots of pine needles, herbal, and gooseberry aromas. Light body, with herbal, gooseberries, apples and oranges on the palate. More like a Sauvignon Blanc. Interesting to try.
- Red Rooster Riesling 2011. Light citrus nose but delivers with lively citrusy acidity on the palate. Tangerine, citrus and a hint of petrol on your tongue. Nice.
- Red Rooster Gewurztraminer 2011. Apples and yellow plum aromas in the glass. Light body, off-dry, with stone fruit and a touch of sweet spices on the palate.
- LFNG Blind Trust White 2011. This is a blend of Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. Pale lemon in colour. Nice stone fruit aromas. Medium minus body, round and dry. Some acidity in the background to keep the wine refreshing. Citrus, stone fruit and a hint of vanilla, with cinnamon showing up mid palate. I really liked this wine!
- Nichol 9 Mile White 2011. Another white blend. This one is Gewurztraminer and Riesling, two aromatic Alsatian varieties. Lychee and roses on the nose. Medium minus body, dry with medium acidity. Herbal and citrus flavours.
- Misconduct Wine Co. Suspect Series Chenin Blanc Viognier 2009. This blend is 69% Chenin with 31% Viognier. Light peach blossom and slight orange on the nose. Medium body. Nice round mouthfeel. Nectarine and citrus flavour with a bit of sweet spice. Long length. A classy white.
Upper Bench Pinot Gris 2011. This is one of the new wineries on the block. They had a line up of at least 5 different wines. The Pinot Gris was bright medium lemon in colour. Very aromatic with juicy, ripe stone fruit aromas. Full body, dry with tropical fruit up front, spice, and some herbaceousness on the mid-palate. Very tasty.
- Van Westen Vineyards Vino Grigio 2010. This is a Pinot Gris. Light flowery nose. Medium minus body with fairly high acidity. Round mouthfeel with pear and honeysuckle flavour.
- Van Westen Vineyards Viognier 2010. This is probably my favourite white of the evening. It had a very nice aroma of apricots. Medium body, dry with medium acidity. Apricots, jasmine and honey flavours. Highly recommended.
- La Frenz Riesling 2011. Light herbal and honey aromas on the nose. Light body, dry with light acidity. Light herbal and citrus flavours. Elegant.
Red Wine Picks
Van Westen Vineyards Vivre la Vie 2008. This wine is 100% Merlot. Medium garnet in the glass. Currant, plum and cloves aromas. Medium body, round mouthfeel with blueberries, black berry, leather and vanilla. Very complex flavours. Medium tannins with a very dry finish.
- Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous 2007. A red blend. Plums and chocolate on the nose. Medium plus body with very firm tannins. Ripe cherries, cassis and vanilla flavours. Buy and let it age for at least a year.
- Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous 2008. It’s always nice when you have two or more years of a particular wine to compare at the same time. This younger vintage has raspberry, toffee, chocolate and cloves on the nose. Quite interesting aromas. Medium plus body, dry with firm tannins. Black berries, cassis, and ripe cherry flavours. This tannins are too strong to enjoy this wine right away. Put it down for at least 3-4 years.
- Upper Bench Pinot Noir 2010. Medium translucent garnet. Smoky strawberry aroma. Light body with high acidity and medium minus tannins. Smokey, cherry, strawberries and vanilla on the palate. A good quality Pinot Noir.
- La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2010. Pale garnet colour. Toasty and red fruit aromas. Nice mouthfeel. Light body, with cherries and sweet spices. Exploding vanilla / oak over top the fruit flavour in a good way. Medium plus length.
- Poplar Grove Merlot 2008. Translucent medium garnet in the glass. Slight capsicum along with chocolate and ripe plum aromas. Medium body, dry with soft tannins. Red apples, plums and cherry flavours, with capsicum on the finish. Soft tannins. Nice.
- Poplar Grove Legacy 2007. Dark garnet colour with some bricking. Cassis, toffee, plum and cherry aroms. Full body, dry with medium plus tannins. Cherries, ripe black fruit and vanilla flavours with a hint of capsicum. Medium plus length.
- Perseus Invictus. Sorry I did not get a vintage on this wine, nor did I see one listed on their website. This is a Bordeaux blend with 49% Cabernet Sauvignon making the majority of the blend. Medium garnet in colour. Cedar, cassis and some capsicum on the nose. Full body with more cassis, cedar, and black berry flavours. Very juicy fruits with some pepperiness. Round mouthfeel with soft tannins. Medium length.
It is interesting to note that I picked more white wines than red, considering that the Naramata Bench is better known for their red wines. Enjoy these wines in a restaurant, at home or maybe at the winery over summer.