Bench 1775 Winery is located in on 1775 Naramata Road, on the Naramata Bench. They believe that great wines start in the vineyard, so all of their vineyard sites were analyzed in detail before being planted with clones and rootstocks best adapted to their soils and site climate. Val Tait, the viticulturist, wine maker and GM of Bench 1775, tries to make the wines as naturally and organic as possible, taking what nature has to offer and working with it to produce her wines. She has a pedigree in the Okanagan, having previously worked at Poplar Grove, Mission Hill, and Painted Rock. I very much enjoy Val’s wine-making style and hope you will have a chance to try some of her wines.
Let’s Start Our Tasting
Bench 1775 Pinot Noir 2014 (BC $25.90) – Medium minus garnet in colour. It has a youthful, medium intensity nose with aromas of tea roses, sweet red fruit, sweet spices and a hint of vanilla. With decanting you can add some smokiness to the red fruit and some perfume. The wine is dry, and round, and has a light/thin feeling to it. A hint of minerality too. Very fine tannins. Red fruit, red cherries and a lesser amount of plum. There is black pepper on the mid palate that grows to the finish. There is also hints of rose and black currant leaf. It has a medium plus length, finishing with a combination of mouth-watering acidity, pepper, red fruit and flowers. Oak and tannins are more prominent on the finish. With decanting there is less pepper on the finish and more minerality.
Rating: A quality, feminine, red fruit Pinot Noir.
Bench 1775 Groove 2014 (BC $19.90) – The winery calls this their “democratic wine”, possibly because it is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. It is a blend of 87% Merlot, 11.5% Malbec, 1.5% Cabernet Franc. Dull ruby with a hint of garnet colour in the glass. Medium intensity, youthful nose, with aromas of vanilla, red cherry raspberry and raspberry leaf. Also a hint of chocolate. With decanting you get some smokiness or flint on the nose. The wine is dry, with a hint of sweetness. Medium bodied, round, with a medium plus mouth feel. Higher acidity. A mix of black fruit, raspberry, and ripe plums. Hints of floral and raspberry leaf. Some minerality on the mid palate and a hint of oak. With decanting, you also get some of the smoky flintiness on the palate, but lose the floral note. Medium plus length, finish quite peppery. Some tartness and black fruit flavours on the finish. Decanting adds some tarriness.
Rating: A quite tasty, solid Bordeaux blend. Not too complex, but is meant to be enjoyed with food. No need to decant.
A Tale of Two Malbecs
These two wines are made specially for Bench 1775 Wine Club Members only. If these wines entice you, maybe reward yourself with a Holiday gift.
Bench 1775 Malbec 2014 – Very deep ruby in colour. Also more intense nose; lots of nutmeg and allspice together with black fruit. With air, red fruit shows up and a hint of floral. I think the toasting of the barrels really comes through in this wine. Silky, round mouth feel. The nutmeg and allspice flavours come through strongly on the palate, together with more red fruit, less black fruit, red cherry and a whiff of plum fruit. There is a hint of oak. The wine has very soft tannins. Medium length finishing with more nutmeg spice and a mix of red and black fruit. I would love if this wine had a slightly longer length and bit stronger tannic backbone. I did try this wine with a rack of lamb, and the sweet spices really made a nice complement to the lamb.
Rating: A Malbec full of sweet spices.
Bench 1775 Similkameen Malbec 2014 – This Malbec comes from a vineyard in the Similkameen Valley where the soil is much more bony and drier, which should translate into a more intense wine; and it does. Deep ruby in colour. It has an intriguing nose, which I try to describe as a blend of green cedar leaves, vanilla and sweet red fruit, together with cloves. A medium plus body, quite, round, soft and silky on the palate, but is supported by medium plus acidity. Again a blend of cedar leaves and red fruit on the palate, together with raspberries, plums, and black cherries fruit. A hint of perfume, cloves, oak, and chocolate. There is also some salty minerality, which I like. With decanting the chocolate component disappears. The wine has medium length, finishing with mouth-watering acidity and a bit of hotness at the back of the throat. Medium tannins. With decanting, the tannins feel stronger on the finish.
Rating: A very interesting wine on the nose and palate. Intriguing cedary aromas and flavours, together with sweet red fruit.
Bench 1775 Cabernet Franc cl 214 2013 (BC $27.90) – What does the cl 214 mean you may ask? It is Clone 214, which according to EnoViti has “Highest rating; characterized by raspberry and violet flavors in France; a high performance warm vintage clone with dark fruit flavors, tannin structure and less green, herbal flavors“. This wine is deeper garnet with a ruby tinge coloured. Youthful nose, medium intensity; aromas of capsicum, dustiness, red fruit, plums and vanilla. A hint of smokiness that does disappear with decanting. Minerality jumped out at me upon first sip. Medium plus body, round, soft and silky on the palate. Heavier mouth feel. Flavours of red fruit, raspberry and ripe plums, along with hints of perfume, cedar, and vanilla. Sweet spice on the mid palate. With decanting the cedar flavour becomes more prominent, and also adds some chocolate. Medium plus length, finishing with medium plus tannins, red fruits and vanilla. This wine has a nice balance of acidity and fruit, together with supporting tannins.
Rating: – A very seductive, well-made Cabernet Franc that I highly recommend you try.
Bench 1775 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 (BC $29.90) – Deep garnet with a ruby tinge. Medium intensity nose, with a mix of youthful and developing aromas. You get ripe black fruit, red cherry, and plum flavours,together with vanilla, nutmeg, chocolate and some meatiness. With decanting the milk chocolate becomes more prominent, and you get a hint of capsicum. The wine is dry, medium plus bodied, round, and has an interesting viscous heavier mouth feel. Rich ripe fruit flavours; black fruit, red and black cherries, and plums. Hints of perfume, nutmeg and oak. Again with decanting, you get a hint of capsicum on the palate. Medium plus length with tannins building from the mid palate to the finish; drying but not too strong. Red fruits, vanilla and floral on the finish.
Rating: A Cabernet Merlot blend with elegance that doesn’t shout. Very balanced and well-enjoyed.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can buy these wines through the winery’s website. The wines are also available in private wine stores and in some restaurants in BC but you need to ask.