I have two white wines for you today. One is oaked and the other unoaked. The unoaked wine is Upper Bench Winery and Creamery Riesling 2020 while the oaked wine is Upper Bench Winery and Creamery Chardonnay 2018. There is quite a difference in colour. Whenever you see an oaked Chardonnay the colour tends to be a much deeper golden colour compared to an unoaked Chardonnay, or a Riesling in this case. You may have noticed the word “Creamery” that is because Upper Bench makes wine AND cheese. A great combination!
I picked to pair these two wines as they are polar opposites of each other. Check out my tasting notes, and let me know which wine you’d prefer.
My Wine Tasting Notes
Upper Bench Winery and Creamery Riesling 2020 (BC $24)
The grapes were entirely from the Naramata Bench. This wine underwent a long cool, 100% stainless steel fermentation. 7.2% residual sugar.
Appearance: Medium-minus intensity lemon with a green tint.
Nose: Medium intensity mix of lemon and lime, and touches of orange, apple skin, and black pepper (how interesting). Then with some swirling, I also picked up jalapeno pepper and nettle aromas as well. The aromas appeared sweeter with decanting. I picked up strong peach aromas that added to the citrus aromas previously mentioned. I did not detect the jalapeno aroma with decanting.
Palate: This wine is off-dry but very lean and sleek with pronounced acidity that shows as an acidic prickle on your tongue. Mixed tart fruits that start with stone fruits then transition to citrus flavours. There is also a stoniness to this wine. The acidity is maybe slightly lower with decanting and is more mineral. The fruit flavours persist.
Finish: A medium-plus length finishing with tart citrus, light stone fruits, a hint of orange and stoniness. There is some bitter leafiness on the finish with decanting, but it is not unpleasant.
I think this wine is a little nicer with decanting as there is the added peach aroma, and on the palate, the acidity is slightly lower and more mineral. This wine could easily age another 4-5 years.
Rating: – Medium intensity lemon and lime with a touch of orange and apple skin. If you decant, add peach aromas. Off-dry with very high searing acidity that leaves a prickle on your tongue. A mix of stone fruit flavours to start that transitions to citrus. Stony minerality.
Upper Bench Winery and Creamery Estate Chardonnay 2018 (BC $35)
The grapes for this wine were picked on October 5, 2018 then fermented using indigenous yeasts on the grape skins, using new French oak barrels. After fermenting the wine was aged sur lie for 8 in the barrels before bottling. ONLY 98 cases of this wine were produced.
Appearance: An intense deep golden colour.
Nose: Pronounced aromas of pineapple, butterscotch, toasty oak, and vanilla in that order of intensity. Same aromas with decanting, but more medium intensity.
Palate: Dry with a very thick, round, silky mouthfeel. Low acidity. Ripe pineapple, ripe pears and apples, butterscotch and a touch of oak. A buttery texture. The flavours persist with decanting, but the intensity lower a bit and the mouthfeel gets lighter on the mid-palate.
Finish: A medium plus length finishing with lingering ripe pineapple flavours, some pepperiness and nutmeg spice at the very end. A smoother finish with decanting.
I don’t think decanting is necessary for this wine, it just gets a little lighter in aromas and flavours.
Rating: – A bigger Chardonnay with ripe pineapple, toasty oak, and butterscotch aromas and flavours. Full-bodied dry, round and thick, with a buttery texture. A medium-plus length with some pepperiness on the finish.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
If you would like to purchase these wines and their cheese, you can get them at the winery (170 Upper Bench Road South, Penticton, BC), or online at www.upperbench.ca. The 2019 Chardonnay is on their website, so to get the 2018, you may need to go to the winery. Their wines are also available at various restaurants and wine shops. The BC VQA Wine Info Centre in Penticton carries both wines.