Hidden at Home
Hidden Bench's virtual tasting experience
Like many wineries who aren’t able to welcome guests to tour and taste in familiar fashion, Hidden Bench is looking to connect with customers via virtual tastings. Launched in December for the benefit of wine club members, the online tastings were so successful that the program been offered to the general public. While Niagara wineries are able to re-open tasting rooms this weekend, Hidden Bench retail is operating solely for curbside sales.
The 45-minute online sessions are hosted by Estate Sommelier Melissa Marynissen. Cost is $100 for six 100 mL samples of a pre-selected range of Hidden Bench wines. Visit hiddenbench.com for details
Hidden Bench notes
2017 was Jay Johnston’s first vintage as winemaker. He replaced Marlize Beyers in August of that year after a long stint at Flat Rock Cellars. Previously Johnston worked as Hidden Bench’s associate winemaker between 2009 and 2012.
The wines are 100 percent organically certified (Pro-Cert) and estate grown
From 750 mL bottle sample
Estate Chardonnay 2018, $29.95
Made in a generous, rich and rounded style, this exciting and age-worthy chardonnay represents a blend from Hidden Bench’s organically certified vineyards in Beamsville, Ontario. A dry white with an inviting character, this nicely balances nutty and toasty flavours with vibrant citrus notes that carry through to a mouth-watering finish. Drink now to 2027. $32.25 in Quebec. (92/100)
March tasting kit samples, served from 100mL tubes
Estate Riesling 2017, $24.75
Locust Lane, Felseck and Rosomel vineyards, 10.5% abv, 16.1 g/L r.s., bottled April 9, 2018. Handpicked, sorted and whole bunch pressed.
Nice bright, balanced and mouth-watering style. Classic citrus freshness with ripe treefruit notes. Mineral and fruit notes in harmony. Concentration, texture, hint of sweetness with zest for equilibrium. Long refined finish. A complete wine. Ready. Drink now to 2027. (91/100)
Felseck Chardonnay 2017, $42
Single vineyard, vine age from 9 to 25 years (1992 planting comprises 60% of the blend), multiple picks between Oct. 1 – 7, 82% 14 months aging, French oak, 18% concrete egg (17% new, 12% second use, 12% third, remainder older neutral barrels). Unfined and unfiltered.
Rich and round style, with concentrated creamy texture. Pear and peach are accented by nutty and toasty notes. Richness, complexity and intensity. Last tasted July 2020 with a similar note posted in the Globe column: Acquired in 2007 and certified organic, the Felseck vineyard’s chardonnay has quickly established itself as one of the most dynamic wines in the Hidden Bench portfolio. This impressive white wine offers richness, complexity and intensity. The mix of smoky, toasty and bright citrusy character is tantalizing, complex and complete. This is a delicious wine right now that promises to mature gracefully over the next four to six years. (93/100)
Nuit Blanche Rosomel Vineyard 2017, $42
80.6% sauvignon blanc, 19.4% semillon. Six months in 100% French oak, 13% new, 13% second use, and the remainder older neutral barrels).
The vintage has contributed to the style of this always expressive single vineyard white blend. It’s lighter with nice intensity citrus and herbal notes on the nose. On the palate, it’s a bit of sleeper. The fruit finds a second and third gear as it builds to a wash of concentrated flavour on the finish that’s distinctively Nuit Blanche. Not the showboat of riper years, but not easily dismissed. Drink now to 2024. (91/100)
Gamay Noir 2019, $29.75
Debut vintage. 100% organically certified grapes from Lincoln Lakeshore, vines planted 2017. Treated like pinot noir, hand-picked, cluster sorted, destemmed then berry sorted, native fermentation. Six months in barrel, 12% new French oak, remainder neutral barrels.
Bright cherry fruit, with nice purity on the nose. Tangy and bright on the palate, with zesty yet ripe red fruit notes and spicy/smoky accents. Intense, lively and scented, with structure to age. An impressive debut. Drink now to 2026. (91/100)
Felseck Pinot Noir 2017, $42
Single vineyard, vines planted in 2003 and 2008, picked September 26 to October 5, 10 months in 100% French oak, 18% new, 41% second use, 41% neutral then blend continued to age in stainless and neutral barrels. Bottled April 2019
Nice style. Aromatic nose with lots of potential. Nicely concentrated core of dark cherry and plum, with structure and complexity (spice, earth, graphite). The texture and persistence make this stand out. Just starting to hit its stride (suspect a sample from a bottle is more tightly wound). Age-worthy. Drink now to 2027. (93/100)
Terroir Caché 2017, $44.75
Blend of grapes grown at Rosomel, Locust Lane and Felseck, 47% merlot, 29% malbec, 24% cabernet franc. 20 months in 100% French oak, 55% new, 5% second use, 10% third, balance neutral (30%). Unfined and unfiltered.
This attractive red blend is setting nicely into a style that’s mostly merlot with malbec and cabernet franc to support with charm and complexity. The 2017 vintage remains true to the house style, offering generous fruit, terrific structure and length. The mix of plummy fruit, tobacco and cedar combine to positive effect with the marked acidity that’s typically of a cooler vintage. Not the longest-lived example of this label, but I suspect most aren’t looking to go the distance with a red with such immediacy. Drink now to 2026. (91/100)
About the Author
Christopher Waters has been writing about wine for two decades. He is the wine and spirits columnist at The Globe and Mail, education director of IWEG Drinks Academy and a WSET certified instructor at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University.
For 21 years, he was the editor/co-founder of Canada's largest circulation wine publication, VINES, and author of the nationally syndicated column, Waters & Wine.
An internationally recognized wine judge, Christopher represents Canada for the Six Nations Wine Challenge and served as head judge and organizer of the InterVin International Wine Awards form 2009-2019. He was awarded the Business Citizen of the Year at the 2011 Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and was received the VQA Promoters Award for Education, also in 2011.
Christopher has been organizing and conducting unforgettable corporate and private fine wine events for 20+ years. He has developed and conducted masterclasses and seminars and moderated panels for organizations, such as The Wine Marketing Association of Ontario, Wines of British Columbia, Wines of Chile, Wines of Germany and Wines of South Africa.