LCBO Vintages Release
If this is the first you’ve heard of Bench wines: lucky you. These are delicious, intriguing minimal-intervention wines. The Sonoma Coast AVA is home to some of the greatest of California’s cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Ocean-born fogs and significant variations in aspect and elevation across the region allow for a wonderful range of nuanced, distinctly expressive wines. This one is sourced from the gravel and clay soils of the famous Sangiacomo Vineyard.
Bench wines are sourced from benchland vineyards (where the valley floor transitions to steep, rocky soils) because the terrain is ideal for producing wines with exceptional structure and character. The aspect of bench-set vineyards catches sunlight and retains heat, leading to flavour and tannin development in the grapes grown there. Breezes that flow down the bench to the valley floor push away moisture in the air that can jeopardize fruit health. Soil in a bench vineyard cuts through the rocky soil strata, making an array of soil types available to vines for mineral uptake. These are special vineyards indeed.
Fruit is hand-harvested and largely de-stemmed without crushing, then gently gravity-transferred to stainless steel for a long cold soak. The must was allowed to warm slowly and ferment with native yeast. After a steady fermentation, the wine remained on skins for an extended maceration that developed beautiful structure, colour, and mouthfeel. The wine was pressed off to French oak barrels (30% new), where it completed malolactic fermentation without intervention.
Expect a complex, refined wine with raspberry and dark fruit tones and a brambly underbelly.