Top Wines from the Naramata Bench Tasting

The Naramata Bench Wineries Association organized a spring release tasting today at the New Westminster Public Market.  The afternoon tasting was for the trade and the evening portion is for the public.  With 21 wineries present, it was not hard to find some great new releases as we come into spring.  The  following wines stood out to me and ones to consider while hunting down some spring releases.

Red Rooster 2011 Riesling – Great nose full of citrus and floral notes with a touch of petrol.  The palate bursts with great acidity and intensity while an oiliness starts to show on the finish.  A great value at $16.99 for a Riesling that will be a perfect summer sipper and one to lay down for the three to five years and let the acidity calm down and the oily texture to come out more.

Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc 2011 -Great intensity, structure, balance, expression, and style for this grape.  Lake Breeze has been garnering accolades for their Pinot Blanc for many years now and the 2011 vintage is no exception.  This is a brilliant summer wine and the price is right.

La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – was absolutely stunning this year.  Incredible intensity to its aromatics, a spectrum of flavors all clearly pronounced.  Incredible acidity, balanced weight to help with its food friendliness.  I would take this Sauvignon Blanc anywhere with me as an example of what BC can do with this grape.  I wish we saw more examples of this style from BC wineries.

Van Westen Vivacious 2010 – Year in and year out, the wines form Van Westen are consistently clean, pure, and structured.  The 2010 Vivacious is another example of their consistency and another great example of Pinot Blanc.  The best part about this wine is its drinkability now and its ability to age for over 5 years. I will start looking at it again in 2-3 years but think this has the bones to age for awhile. I have really enjoyed this wine in previous vintages with a few years of age on it.  The concentration of fruit is balanced nicely with enough acidity that as it softens over time this wine takes on a great elegance and allows the minerality to shine through.

Upper Bench Winery Pinot Blanc 2011 – Upper Bench Winery is one of the new names in the hood this year, but no stranger to the wines of BC.  Gavin MIller the winemaker has shown his talent at both Poplar Grove Winery and Painted Rock before standing behind his own label of Upper Bench.  All the wines out of the gate show great clarity of flavors and nice structure.  In particular the 2011 Pinot Blanc showed great intensity as the fruit ranged from citrus and apple to pungent stone fruits and tropical notes.  The palate carried the same intensity with the ripe flavors which is impressive for such a cooler year.  I look forward for more to come from this label.

Overall it was a great showing and I will be posting more reviews shortly.  It is great to see an Okanagan region still hitting the road and bringing their wines to Vancouver and Victoria. Kudo’s to the wineries who area already on top of their web presence and have updated the new vintages on their sites, makes writing reviews that much easier.


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