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A   N A R A M A T A   B E N C H   E X C L U S I V E   B L E N D

 

Originally named after the first Poplar Grove vineyard at 1060 Poplar Grove Road, our Benchmark blend was created to reflect the terrior of the Naramata Bench region. Harvested from two of our vineyard locations, Davenport/Chapman and the Munson Mountain Vineyard, this big robust blend proves that bench will deliver intense boldly flavoured red varietals that will only excel after thier time in your cellar.

This year we decided to shine a spotlight on this Wine Club exclusive and offer a three vintage vertical for our members. We have put together extensive new tasting notes, full production notes, and harvest information from each year. We invite you to add on this specialty release to your March shipment and Join Winemaker – Stefan Arnason, Vice President – Chris Holler, and a surprise guest for a virtual tasting Thursday, March 28th at 5:30pm.


B E N C H M A R K   2 0 1 7

Original Tasting Note

Deep purple colour paints your glass as aromas of sweet molasses, vanilla and smoky flint fill the air. This medium bodied wine is home to round tannins and edgy acidity. Flavours of freshly bloomed lavender, dried herbs and lush blackberry wash through your palate with a charmingly fruity finish.

2024 Tasting Note

Deep ruby in colour. Alluring aromas of tobacco, blackberry jam, and earthy spices captivate your senses with the first pull of the cork. Flavours of saskatoon berry and cassis are balanced on the palate with a fresh acidity and long savoury finish.

Varietals

57% Malbec, 35% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc

Production Notes

The component grapes are from four vineyards all located on the Naramata Bench: Chapman, Munson Mountain, Davenport, and Fox Vineyard. The bunches were handpicked and sorted in the vineyard. The three grape varietals were crushed, held cold for four days and then fermented separately. 25% of the wine spent time in new French oak barriques while the remainder of the wine saw a combination of one and two year old French oak barriques. Once the wine was bottled it was aged for an additional eighteen months in our cellar prior to release.

Harvest Notes

A cold Canadian winter, unusually wet spring, and dry summer yielded wines with excellent balance and distinct varietal flavours. Crops were lighter than normal, but the vintage will be remembered for unprecedented floods and drought conditions; and a persistent haze from near by forest fires. While not directly affecting our grape-growing areas, the haze blanketed the sun coverage, preventing the customary heat spikes and positively impacting the growing season. Slow ripening was assisted by the rigorous leaf plucking and bunch thinning of our dogged, never-saydie vineyard crew. Ultimately, slightly lower yields and phenomenal fruit quality delivered an excellent vintage, characterized by high flavour concentration, moderate alcohol, balanced tannins, complexity and natural acidity.

B E N C H M A R K   2 0 1 8
Original Tasting Note

An enticing ruby red colour exudes aromatics of violets, black currants and ripe blackberries. This medium bodied blend hosts chewy tannins with a long finishing note of black tea. Flavours of lilac and dark cherry give this earthy wine a character of its own. Showcasing a softer acidity with a robust finish.

2024 Tasting Note

Medium ruby red in colour. Bright aromas of lilac, Bing cherry and a slight hint of cocoa develop as the wine breathes. The palate is rich and dense with chewy tannins and notes of black currant, vanilla and black tea. This full bodied blend had a velvety mouthfeel and an exceptionally smooth finish.

Varietals

55% Malbec, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

Production Notes

The component grapes are from four vineyards all located on the Naramata Bench: Chapman, Davenport, Munson Mountain, and Fox vineyards. The bunches were handpicked and sorted in the vineyard. After de-stemming, the berries were hand sorted again to ensure that only perfect fruit was included in the ferment. The three grape varietals were crushed, held cold for four days and then fermented separately. 25% of the wine spent time in new French oak barriques, while the remainder was held in two year old French oak barriques. Once the wine was bottled, it was aged for an additional eighteen months in our cellar prior to release.

Harvest Notes

The 2018 growing season was similar to 2017. Spring started off slowly and was wetter than average. 2018 found the vineyards two weeks behind our normal bud burst. Once the warmer weather arrived mid-spring, it caused the above average snow levels in the mountains to melt rapidly resulting in another year of flooding. The flooding did not wash any topsoil away and, after a challenging start, the end of spring weather conditions was perfect for an ideal fruit set. Once summer arrived, it was hot and dry which tested our vineyard crews to pay close attention to irrigation regimes and leaf-to-fruit ratios. The vineyards soaked up the summer sunshine; meticulous farming and careful yield management allowed the grapes to fully ripen on the vine. September was wet. After each rainfall, the tractors were driven down the vineyard rows to blow the water off the vines and fruit ensuring there was no opportunity for mold to develop. A beautiful autumn saw the perfect weather to allow the fruit to catch up after a wet September.

B E N C H M A R K   2 0 1 9

Original Tasting Note

Medium ruby red colour exudes aromatics of geranium, ripe blackberry and black currant . This medium bodied blend hosts firm tannins with flavours of black tea and dark red plum. Each sip lingers with a long finish, allowing the flavours to unfold and leave a lasting impression. The wine’s earthy character is a distinguishing feature, enhancing its complexity and providing a unique personality.

2024 Tasting Note

Medium ruby red in colour with aromas of black plum, violet and dark red fruit. This medium bodied blend shows notes of fresh black cherry, cassis and mulberry. Although still youthful, this wine is smooth on the palate with soft elegant tannins, bright acidity and a long juicy finish.

Varietals

52% Malbec, 26% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc

Production Notes

The component grapes are from four vineyards all located on the Naramata Bench: Chapman, Davenport, Munson Mountain, and Fox vineyards. The bunches were handpicked and sorted in the vineyard. After de-stemming, the berries were hand sorted again to ensure that only perfect fruit was included in the ferment. The three grape varietals were crushed, held cold for four days and then fermented separately. The wine was held separate for 21 months in new and old French oak barrels and was then aged for an additional 12 months in our cellar prior to release.

Harvest Notes

The 2019 winter brought extremes: warm 12° January days to lows of – 22° and lots of snow in February. When the buds started pushing, we noted that the colder months had resulted in a bit of bud and vine death in our Naramata Bench Vineyards. Bud burst was two weeks later than average due to the long winter. The beginning of Okanagan spring was one of the driest on record. However, by the end of June, the valley saw a cooling trend that lasted through most of July and brought much precipitation. At the end of July, the real Okanagan summer started with hot sunny days and little precipitation. The grapes soaked in the summer heat and quickly made up for lost time. Variation in our reds happened right on schedule. September was wetter than usual. October was dry with 15° days and 2 to 6° nights. On October 9th, a -4° frost dropped the leaves in most of our vineyards. After the frost, the weather was perfect to hang the fruit until the end of October, with all the remaining vineyards achieving the right amount of favour, sugar, and acid. No Floods. No Smoke. Overall, it was a low tonnage year with excellent ripe fruit across all varietals in our vineyards.

T H E   V I N E Y A R D S

M U N S O N   M O U N T A I N

 

Barb and Tony Holler hand-planted the Munson Mountain vineyard alongside their family and friends in 2008. The vineyard site was chosen for its exceptional south-west facing aspect and gentle slope allowing the grapes to properly ripen and provide us with quality fruit.

C H A P M A N   D A V E N P O R T

 

Our Chapman Davenport vineyard sits on the beautiful Naramata Bench overlooking Okanagan Lake. This 25-acre site is considered the original Poplar Grove vineyard and was established by the Holler family in 2004 with the first plantings of Merlot. This site is ideal for fruit growing as the tempering effect of the lake and soil drainage allow for better air movement and less risk of mildew.

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