Thirty Bench Wine Makers, Niagara, Canada


Thirty Bench is part of the extensive Peller portfolio, but although it’s owned by a relatively large company, it makes some of Niagara’s best wines. Located in Beamsville, over the road from Rosewood, it was started by Tom Muckle, a British expat with German roots.

Tom arrived in Niagara from Newcastle in 1970, and his family followed in 1971. His day job was as a doctor in a Pathology department, but in 1980 he bought a fruit farm planted with Concord grapes, along with five partners. At the time, it was called Heritage Vineyards, and they decided to plant some Riesling, which went into the ground in 1981. They also bought the neighbouring property, and began planting that, too.

Shortly after, Tom was one of the partners in a new venture, Cave Spring Cellars, which has gone on to be one of Niagara’s leading Riesling producers.

Tom left Cave Springs in the early 1990s and renamed Heritage Vineyards to Thirty Bench, which opened in 1994. This was sold to Andrés Wines (since 2006, they have been Andrew Peller) on May 2nd 2005.

There are two tiers of wines. The White label is from 100% estate grown fruit, while the Green label is from estate grapes and also those from another property, which Thirty Bench do all the farming for.


Thirty Bench Sparkling Riesling NV Niagara
Traditional method. Lively citrus fruit here with keen acidity. Has a slightly pithy quality and some salty notes. Nice focus and freshness here, with a vibrant finish. 87/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
11.3% alcohol. This has nice intensity with textured citrus fruit, showing good concentration and some melon and tangerine richness, as well as a bit of minty freshness on the finish. Long and lemony with lovely intensity. 92/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
10.8% alcohol. Rich and textural with lovely lemony brightness and well integrated acidity. Has some pear and white peach here, with a long citrus finish. Very harmonious with some sweetness, but it’s all so well balanced. Lovely stuff. 94/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
10.6% alcohol. This is fruity and lively with pure citrus notes, a bit of pith and some juicy acidity. Very lively and expressive. Has a bright sour lemon finish, as well as some sweetness. 91/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Chardonnay 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
Ripe and rounded with a spicy, toasty frame around rich tangerine, baked apple and apricot fruit. Has depth and a bit of bready richness, with good acidity. A rich, full-on style, but in balance still. 90/100

Thirty Bench Winemakers Blend Red 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot. 13.6% alcohol. Crunchy and quite structured with nice sweet blackcurrant fruit as well as some cherry and plum. Has some grip. Ripe and seductive but with an appealing savoury side, finishing dry and grippy. 91/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Merlot 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
13.8% alcohol. This is bright, fresh and quite elegant, albeit with lots of fresh, sweet berry fruits. It’s fresh and open, showing some good structure but also some mid-weight, elegant fruit. Has a pleasant, dry, slightly bitter finish. 92/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
13.9% alcohol. Dense and quite structured with grippy blackcurrant and red berry fruit, supported by some vanilla oak. Quite compact, finishing sweet and berryish. 88/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
14.1% alcohol. This is chunky and dense with some firm tannins, but also has some flesh to the cherry and plum fruit. Nicely expressive with compact cherry and plum fruit as well as deeper blackcurrant notes. Has some presence. 91/100

Thirty Bench Benchmark Red 2016 Beamsville Bench, Niagara
36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc. Broad and sweetly fruited with an appealing grainy structure to the sweet black cherry and berry fruits. This is ripe, but is also appealingly midweight and quite elegant, with good balance and structure under the sweet fruit. Has structure enough to age. 93/100

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