Upper Bench Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc on Our Hot Summer Days

BC Wildfire ServiceIt certainly is hot this summer in BC.  Lots of forest fires, which I hope will get under control by our firefighters, plus some upcoming rain.  Our firefighters deserve cheers from each of us. Check out the BC Wildfire Service for updates.

It is too hot to enjoy a big red, but chilled white wines fit well.  I have two white wines from Upper Bench Winery & Creamery in Penticton. The two wines are their Pinot Blanc 2020 and their Estate Chardonnay 2019.  Two different vintages with different temperature profiles and vinification techniques, which I will cover below.

My Wine Tasting Notes

Upper Bench Winery & Creamery Pinot Blanc 2020 (BC $22)

The winery noted “…the 2020 vintage began with cooler than temperatures, prompting us to crop at higher levels to encourage the fruit that remained to fully ripen. Later in the season, we did see a little warmth which was enough to ripen the flavours before a later than usual harvest.” This wine does have 4% Muscat grapes added in to give a little more variety.  The wine underwent a long cool 100% stainless steel ferment.

Appearance: A medium intensity bright lemon colour.
Nose: Medium intensity with aromas of lemon, light toast (unoaked so must come from the grapes or stems), ripe stonefruits (mainly pears), and some crisp apple behind.  With air and warming up in the glass, the Muscat orange aroma appears. With decanting you get increased fresh stone fruit aromas, and less toast and lemon aromas.
Palate: Dry, medium-bodied with a round, thicker mouthfeel.  Tart citrus plus sweet & sour stone fruits, and apples.  You get some grape stem tannins on the mid-palate to the finish.  There is a light acidic prickle on your tongue from this wine.  It has a mix of stoniness and steeliness toward the finish. The acidity softens with decanting giving you a smoother mouthfeel, plus you get more stone fruit flavours, peach in particular.  I also picked up Gewurztraminer-like flavours hinting at roses and spearmint.  Nice.
Finish: A medium-plus length finishing dry, stony, with a mix of tart citrus and stone fruit flavours. Again decanting smoothes out the acidity.

I think that this wine with its nice level of acidity and range of flavours would pair nicely with lots of seafood and chicken dishes, as well as cheeses.  The decanted version is nicer in my option as it is smoother, less acidic and you get more stone fruit aromas and flavours.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with decanting. Ripe stone fruit and lemon with a touch of toast on the nose.  Medium body with a slightly thicker mouthfeel.  Vibrant acidity and fruit flavours; apples, pears, and citrus. Decanting smoothes out the acidity and gives you more stone fruit aromas and flavours.

Upper Bench Winery & Creamery Pinot Blanc 2020 and Estate Chardonnay 2018 with wines in glasses

Upper Bench Winery & Creamery Pinot Blanc 2020 and Estate Chardonnay 2018 with wines in glasses

Upper Bench Winery & Creamery Estate Chardonnay 2019 (BC $27)

The winery noted that “2019 began with an unseasonably warm January, followed by a cold February which resulted in an overall lower yield and required extra judicious vineyard management throughout the growing season. However, beautiful spring and summer weather provided excellent growing conditions, with vines progressing according to schedule.” This wine was 50% fermented and aged for 3 months in 30% new French oak and 50% of the grapes were fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Appearance: A bright, deeper lemon colour.
Nose: Medium-plus intensity aromas of mainly toast, with touches of apples and sweet spices, and if you give the wine a little swirl time, you get pineapple aroma as well. With decanting, toast is still the primary aroma but now pineapple is much more prominent.
Palate: Full-bodied, dry, round with a silky, thicker mouthfeel and buttery texture.  Medium-plus flavour intensity. Toast, roasted pears, citrus and pineapple flavours, along with a touch of oak. The wine becomes lower in acidity and you get a smoother mouthfeel.  The fruit and toastiness become more integrated.  Nice.
Finish: A medium plus length finishing with butterscotch, toast, tart citrus and crisp apple, then pineapple at the very end.  There is also some stoniness on the finish.  Lighter toast on the finish with decanting.

A quality made wine, but you need to like oaked Chardonnay as the oak with its associated aromas and flavours are prominent.  I like the decanted version a bit more as the toastiness is more integrated with the pineapple flavours on the palate, plus the wine has a smoother mouthfeel.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars with decanting. A bigger oaked Chardonnay.  Lots of toast on the nose with lesser amounts of apple and sweet spices.  Full body, round with a buttery mouthfeel.  Toast, roasted pears, pineapple, citrus and oak flavours.  Butterscotch, toast, and lemon on the finish.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

These wines are available for purchase online from the Upper Bench website.  These wines are also available at the Swirl Wine Store in Yaletown.

And don’t forget to hug a firefighter!

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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