Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Niagara Tour - Thirty Bench Wine Makers


Thirty Bench Wine Makers

It's hard for me not to get excited when I talk about Thirty Bench. This is my 3rd consecutive visit - their rieslings are just irresistibly seductive and true. I havn't made a secret of my belief that they make the truest rieslings of Niagara, and possibly one of the better New World examples of this varietal.

I ask them to pour us the 3 single vineyard rieslings everytime. I don't know if anyone else notices, but the Triangle Vineyard and Steel Post Rieslings show differently each time. I don't know which one is my favourite, because I change my mind everytime. The first time, Steel Post just made such an impression on me, with its incredible minerality and petrol notes. Last December, I fell in love with Triangle, with its weight and complexity. But this time, I wasn't so sure. Both wines weren't very expressive. Maybe an awkward time in the bottle, maybe some reduction going on - maybe just needs some age. Still delicious, but not showing their true colours.

What's interesting is that Wood Post Rieslings have always been consistent. Round, supple, silky. We were given a surprise riesling - a 2003 Dim Vineyard Riesling. They don't make it anymore, and this example was made by the old winemaker. I don't know if the folks there think of it as a good wine, but after tasting it, my appreciation of Natalie Reynolds increased tenfold.

For the first time, the pinot noir was available. 2007 Small Lots Pinot Noir, it showed the characteristics of the vintage well. Ripe, well-structured, and just hinting of developing complexity. I'm intrigued to how this will age.

An informative and enjoyable visit, as always. I'd like to see them cut down on the number of wines they make, especially the cabernet franc that thinks of itself as a syrah. It's just a dream, but why can't people focus on the things they do so well? Like rieslings? Nevertheless, an excellent producer, and one that I think is just tapping its potential. One of the most reliable producers as well, across its whole product line. Natalie Reynolds does exceptional work, and proves that sometimes, (more often than not) wine benefits from a woman's touch.

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