Wine, Bench, Beamsville: Sommelier’s Perspective

Beamsville Bench
Wine, Bench, Beamsville: Sommelier’s Perspective
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Cynthia Silversides

Cynthia Silversides

Cynthia Silversides is an accredited Sommelier certified by both the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS). Passionate about great wine, food, and travel experiences, Cynthia is owner of Niagara Vino providing tutored wine tasting and tour services in the Niagara Peninsula wine region of Ontario, Canada.Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Last week I took two tour guide friends from the U.S. to one of my favourite places in the Niagara Peninsula wine region, the Beamsville Bench. Their big question was about the bench, what is it?

The bench is “A land feature consisting of a strip of land that runs along a sloped area. Typically a step feature on the way down a hillside, the bench interrupts the rapid decline in elevation with a gently sloped area. Benches are typically formed by successive deposits and erosions by a river in a floodplain. In the case of the Niagara Escarpment bench, it represents the historic shoreline of ancient Lake Iroquois.” VQA Ontario

Beamsville Bench is one of three sub-appellations within the Niagara Escarpment sub-region of the Niagara Peninsula, the other two being Twenty Mile Bench and Short Hills Bench. “The mineral rich soils and complex landscape of the Beamsville Bench provide ideal conditions for growing grapes. Sloping vineyards backed by the escarpment, moderating breezes and excellent drainage all contribute to the natural character of the wines from this appellation.” VQA Ontario

Our first stop of the afternoon was Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery where we were greeted by Jane, their very knowledgable retail manager. We talked about the topography of the local bench areas, the topic of “Shiraz” and stylistically why a Syrah varietal wine would be labelled Shiraz or Syrah. Jane lead us through an excellent wine tasting beginning with a dry Rosé, moving on to white and red still wines, then ending with their Vidal Icewine. Some of our favourites:

2011 Beal Vineyards Cabernet Rose, VQA Niagara Peninsula $11.95/ 750ml

“Aromas of fresh strawberry, cherry and raspberry that carry through to the palate. Fresh and vibrant acidity that tingles and leads to a long lasting finish with mineral tones.” Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

2012 Shiraz, VQA Niagara Peninsula $14.75 / 750ml *New Release*

“This wine is fruit forward with aromas and flavours of lavender, bright red fruit with a hint of white pepper and rosemary. It is medium bodied with lively acidity, perfect for your summer barbeque.” Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

2006 Vidal Icewine, VQA Niagara Peninsula $38.95/ 375 ml

“Fresh fruit aromas of pineapple and apricot with a hint of honey. The mouth delivers sweet pineapple balanced beautifully with fresh acidity.” Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

Afterwards we met Andrew at Fielding Estate Winery and talked about the fact that the Niagara Peninsula is an amazing area for producing cool climate varietals, for example Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Andrew started us off with their Brut sparkling wine, followed by a fantastic tasting of their white and red still wines. Some other favorites from this afternoon:

Brut, VQA Ontario $35.15 / 750ml

“This is labeled non-vintage but is made entirely of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the 2009 vintage grown at the estate’s Tufford Road vineyard. Great first effort for this Champagne-style bubbly with a bready-yeasty nose to go with citrus-lemon and toast notes. Quite racy on the palate and fresh with a vigorous mousse and citrus-apple-vanilla flavours and a clean finish.” Rick VanSickle, Wines In Niagara

2011 Estate Bottled Pinot Gris, VQA Niagara Peninsula $22.15 / 750ml

“Medium straw in color with layered aromatics of poached pears, pineapple, cantaloupe and baked apples. Round on the palate with good richness and freshness, followed by a flavourful finish.” Fielding Estate Winery

2010 Syrah, VQA Niagara Peninsula $35.15 / 750ml

“Dense, deep purple in colour with aromas of dark fruit, black pepper, rosemary and toasted oak. Rich on the palate with ripe tannins, good acidity, and a long finish.” Fielding Estate Winery

So there you have it: Wine, Bench, Beamsville



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