I know that at www.canadianwineguy.com we laud the Chardonnays that come out of the Niagara region, but truly, enough cannot be said about them. As the region continues to mature the Burgundy varietals get stronger and grander. Hidden Bench is a vineyard I usually speak highly of for their Pinots and often times I tend to exclude them (by accident) when talking about some of Ontario’s great Chardonnay producers. This is such a huge error as the vineyard has been producing great to world-class Chardonnays for many years and if you have not had a chance to visit the property you need to remedy that. While I am sure the winemaker does not want to see their wines silo’d off, they do produce three distinctive Chards: an estate blend on their lowest end (which year to year is very good); the single vineyard we are about to review; and their flagship Tête de Cuvée which borders on amazing every year. This vineyards wine club is still the best way to get your hands on their wines as often times the production volume is quite low and very few Hidden Bench wines ever see the light of day in the LCBO, with almost nothing leaving the province. The Felseck vineyard, planted in 1992, sits on the Beamsville Bench and remains a very impressive demonstration of new world terroir. For today’s review the 2011 vintage will be reviewed, but I will make a promise to pop some older vintages over the holidays and do some comparisons.
This wine pours out in an aureolin shade of yellow with a very toasty nose. The bold colour is a good indicator of what is to follow. Initial sips open up crisp apple flavours with more hints of that toast flavour from the barreling. First thing you will notice is the acidity, while it is not overwhleming it is distinctively there and it lingers in your mouth. The wine starts early on your palate and lingers long after it has been drunk. Vanilla and apples will be your largest take-aways, but mostly you will be enjoying a bold, crisp Chardonnay. I sat a long time whirling and sipping, each time something a tad different came out. I have to say I probably spent more time analyzing this then I should have, and more than anything I came back with “I love this wine but I cannot put my finger on why.” Great balance, firm acidity, subtle hints of malolactic fermentation with a long finish are something you get out of a well-crafted wine.
The CWG Subjective Rating is 91 out of 100.
Some additional notes:
– This wine was featured this summer in the Cool Climate Chardonnay release from LCBO Vintages
– This wine won a Silver medal at this year NWAC awards.