Upper Bench Estate Winery 2012 Estate Merlot, Okanagan Valley, $35

By on March 7, 2015

upper-bench-estate-winery-estate-merlot-2012-bottleNaramata Bench winemaker Gavin Miller met his cheese-loving wife, Shana, through his work for Poplar Grove, which set the standard in British Columbia for producing and presenting wine and cheese. Now, the Millers are pairing their passions again under their Upper Bench brand, which Gavin developed after leaving Painted Rock in 2010. This bottling is off their estate 7-acre vineyard on Upper Bench Road near Penticton — unlike their larger production Merlot — and the pick came Oct. 7 at a crop load of 3.4 tons per acre. Twenty months in 30% new French oak allows for a nose of cinnamon toast, roasted coffee, rose petal and charcuterie. What follows is a bold and dark mass of black fruit flavors akin to plum, blackberry and black currant, backed by toasted pine nuts and walnut. Pomegranate acidity and bittersweet chocolate tannins form a structure with a substantial spine. And at Upper Bench Winery and Creamery, they suggest pairing this with Shana’s King Cole blue cheese.

Rating: Excellent

Production: 154 cases

Alcohol: 14.5%

Winery website

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

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