Bubbles on the Bench, i4C Hidden Bench

“A Celebration of Canadian Sparkling Wine from Coast-to-Coast”

And what a celebration!

Hidden Bench hosted a 4-course seafood-based luncheon on the Sunday of i4C (International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration) – July 22. The day dawned grey and wet – very wet. We sat in the car watching the prep team running to and fro in the downpour. Finally we braved the damp, registered and joined the reception in the winery. Here, as the skies cleared, we sipped on Hidden Bench 2013 Blanc de Blancs – zero dosage and enjoyed Niagara Gold Gougères and fresh oysters with chopped apple garnish.

Lunch was held on the crash pad of the winery – beautifully set up.

Harald Thiel, Hidden Bench’s owner, introduced the celebrity chefs – each responsible for two of the courses.

  • Chef Charles Antoine Crête of Montreal Plaza, awarded The Most Innovative Chef – soup and salad dishes
  • Chef Victor Barry of Café Can Can / Piano Piano, previously of the late Splendido – trout and cavatelli

Meg McGrath, Hidden Bench, demonstrated her passion for food and wine in the superb pairings of the sparkling wines with the four courses.

Tomato Soup and Scallop

This was like no tomato soup you have ever had before. The bowls were served with pristine pieces of scallop and a variety of colourful vegetables topped with dill. The wait staff then poured the soup liquid into the bowls – lightly flavoured of tomato and almost clear.



Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars 2010 Blanc de Blancs R.D. (B.C.) – introduced by Christie Mavety – 4 gm dosage

Chateau des Charmes 2014 Blanc de Blancs Sparling Wine Méthode Traditionelle (ON) – introduced by Amélie Boury – 8 gm dosage

Lobster – Salad in a Lobster

This dish was served family style – well, to be shared between two guests. The lobster looked intact, no claws but the body looked uncracked. As soon as it was touched it was apparent that the shell was completely detached from the dish. Absolutely gorgeous. The lobster meat was in a light salad with fresh corn.



Lightfood and Wolfville 2013 Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut R.D. (N.S.) – introduced by Josh Horton – 4 gm dosage

Rosehall Run ‘Ceremony’ Blanc de Blancs Brut (PEC) – introcued by Dan Sullivan – 2.5 gm dosage

Trout Sorrel – Smoked Trout, Hidden Bench’s Eggs

The trout graced a light green salad. The smoking was very light and the trout delicate and moist. Accompanying it in a separate dish were creamy scrambled eggs topped with roe. The texture – a seafood “polenta”.



Hidden Bench 2013 Natur – Zero Dosage (ON) – introduced by Jay Johnston – 0 dosage – 70/30 chardonnay and pinot noir

Malivoire Bisous Brut VQA Beamsville Bench (ON) – introduced by Shiraz Mottiar – 4 gm dosage – 80/20 chardonnay and pinot noir

Mussel, Corn Cavatelli, ‘Nduja, Chive, Belly

A dish that looked like corn gnocchi, mussels mixed in and topped with a piece of pork belly.


Cave Spring N.V. Blanc de Blancs VQA Niagara Escarpment (ON) – introduced by Angelo Pavan – 5 gm dosage

Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique Brut 2012 (N.S.) – introduced by Alex Morozov – 10.5 gm dosage


As we departed the crash pad we were intercepted by Harald handing out fresh Niagara apricots as the “dessert”. The sun had come out. A sign of the success of the lunch. If this does become an annual event we would urge those who love good food, wine and camaraderie to put this one in the calendar.

And, to echo Angelo Pavan of Cave Spring, Canada’s sparkling wine can compete with any in the world.




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