Naramata 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.
Production: 154 cases