In Niagara (3) Leaning Post

Website: Leaning Post

I had an evening free while I was judging the National Wine Awards of Canada, so with a few others I headed over to visit Ilya and Nadia Senchuk’s Leaning Post winery and vineyard. I’ve been following them since I first visited several years ago and was impressed, and so it was great to see some of their latest releases. Lockdown gave them the impetus to do some building work and expand their winery, adding a tasting room as well as more production capacity – and they timed this well. To do it now would cost an awful lot more because labour and materials have jumped in price.

Senchuk vineyard
Double trunks a useful insurance against winter kill

We also had a look at the home vineyard, which they planted after they bought the property. It was an abandoned vineyard at the edge of the Niagara region, but Ilya thought he could prove something here. It turns out that the Chardonnays and Pinots from this vineyard are unique, but as he points out, you don’t know that until it’s too late! It’s a narrow, long block with a metre of topsoil over river stones packed in grey clay.

Like all the growers in the region, the last vintage was a taxing one for the Senchuks. ‘2021 the wines ended up lovely,’ says Ilya, ‘but I don’t want to repeat this as a person. It was the most difficult harvest by far.’

As well as seeing the Senchuk vineyard, we visited one of the other vineyards Leaning Post are working with, the Grimsby Hillside Vineyard. This is quite a spectacular site, and among others, Thomas Bachelder, Kelly Mason and 2027 Cellars are also making wines from here. It’s a vineyard that is currently owned by the Franciosa family. Paul Franciosa showed us around and also gave us a bit of the history. 150 years ago grapes were first planted here by the Klein family, who grew Delaware and Concord. Later, it became a research station where the first vinifera varieties were trialled in the region. The success of these trials prompted Daniel Lenko to plant his famous Chardonnay vineyard in 1959.

Grimsby Hillside Vineyard
Paul Franciosa

Current production here is about 6000 cases.


Leaning Post Traditional Method NV Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
Single-vineyard Blanc de Blancs from the Beamsville Bench, from a vineyard (Hemeris) that always produces fruit with sparkling wine analysis. Base wine is barrel-fermented and aged in oak for 6 months. 36 months on the lees, 2 g/l dosage. This is bright and focused with pithy citrus fruit. Lean and taut with high acidity and a bright fruit quality. Linear and pure with nice precision. Very stylish. 92/100

Leaning Post Wismer-Foxcroft Riesling 2019 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
Simple winemaking, says Ilya. This is focused and fresh with lovely citrus drive and a bit of melony richness. Very supple with nice acidity but it’s not too intense. Very lively and well balanced and pretty dry. 92/100

Leaning Post The Geek Riesling 2018 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
Once when Ilya couldn’t sleep he watched chefs table and it inspired him to work with lees. He takes the white wine lees from every wine in the winery (with three ferments excluded) and puts it in a small tank of Riesling, keeping it on lees for 2 years, and then the lees are reused. This has five years of lees in it! Full gold in colour, this is intense and powerful with lovely lime and toast notes. It’s so powerful with a wonderful grapey, spicy richness. Finishes saline and detailed. Such a lovely wine. 94/100

Leaning Post Chardonnay Wismer-Foxcroft Vineyard 2019 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
Very fine mealy, toasty nose with some lemony notes. The palate is so textural with broad mealy, finely spiced pear and lemon fruit, and a lovely fine grained structure. Very fine and expressive with a chalky edge to the fruit. Very expressive. 93/100

Leaning Post Chardonnay Grimsby Hillside Vineyard 2019 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
Lovely toastiness on the nose: rich and mealy with some spiciness. The palate has great concentration with sweet pear and apple, and some melony richness, but underlain with nice tapering spicy mineral notes, which build and thread together on the finish. It starts of quite rich and broad but finishes so delicately. 94/100

Leaning Post Chardonnay Senchuck Vineyard 2019 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
So supple and bright with lovely citrus and pear fruit, as well as some white peach and a lovely spicy finish. There’s a really fine spiciness here with some grapefruit and lemon showing some texture and a spot of minerality. Has a lovely treble register. 94/100

Leaning Post Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 St David’s Bench, Niagara, Canada
Very pale in colour with a hint of bricking. This is so fine and fresh with red cherries and raspberry and a bit of spice. Light, expressive and floral with lovely peppery detail. It’s light and so elegant, but has a bit of structure. Lovely. 94/100

Leaning Post Senchuk Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
This is pale cherry red in colour, with lovely stony, mineral structure under the red cherries and plums. There’s a twist of mushroom and dried herbs, but also plenty of raspberry and redcurrant fruit with good structure. This is quite serious, with a fine, tapering finish and real intensity. 95/100

Leaning Post Grimsby Hillside Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
Beautiful floral aromatics here with refined red cherry fruit and some notes of wax and pot pourri, but the sweet fruit dominates. The palate has structure and focus with a nice acid line. Fresh and expressive and superbly elegant with generosity but also structure. It’s so pretty but it has a serious side. 96/100

Leaning Post The Freak Pinot Noir 2020 Niagara, Canada
70% whole cluster Pinot Noir fermented in an amphora. It is then pressed off skins and put back into the amphora which is then filled up with Senchuk Pinot Noir. Spicy and vivid on the nose with sweet cherries and plums. The palate is dry, grainy and stony with herbs and spices and a stony, savoury edge. Grippy with a drying finish. Quite distinctive. 93/100

Leaning Post Syrah Keczan Vineyard 2019 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
This has been made since 2012. The Syrah at this farm was being blended into a huge blend, so Ilya bought some. Peppery and bright, and so expressive with lovely cherry and plum fruit. There’s a black cherry quality, and some pepper, herb and iodine. This is fresh and pure with lovely precision and some red cherry and raspberry fruit, with elegance and precision and a tapering finish. So expressive. 94/100

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