Pearl Morisette

Jordan, Ontario – Canada’s Best New Restaurant

This very understated, black, austere building harbours a unique and delightful experience.

The lunch and dinner menus are identical, consisting of 10 courses (not including an optional cheese course) and a wine pairing is available. Be sure to allow lots of time – lunch was a leisurely three hours. Service was excellent – chefs delivered and described each course and the sommelier introduced each of the pairings in detail.

Bread and whipped butter started the meal – a rustic rye sourdough.

The first wine was paired with the first two courses – charred zucchini balls with striped bass roe, red currants and edible flowers – cured wild sockeye salmon with a canteloupe vinaigrette, verbena and more edible flowers. The wine was a 2018 Domaine Reuilly Pinot Gris.

The third course – shredded rutabaga, paper thin apple and bay leaf – paired with 2017 Pearl Morissette Irreverence. This was followed by wild Atlantic turbot with beet and elderflower paired with 2017 Masseria Frattasi Taburno. Next was a fave bean dish, cooked in onion broth that was then made into a light sauce over the beans, scallion and tatsoi. This was paired with 2017 Wittmann Riesling.

Up to dish number 6. Razor clams sliced and served with tomato and smoked ham – paired with 2016 Colli Tortonesi Timorasso. Dish 7, paired with 2014 Pearl Morissette Madeline, a Pekin duck (duck breast and a little duck confit) with shallot and gooseberry. And dish 8 was goat milk curd with sweetgrass and cherry.

To finish the meal – a cheese offering enjoyed with the remnants of our rye bread (paired with Pearl Morissette Cabernet Franc), a strawberry sorbet and a raspberry tart (paired with Domaine Frederic Broura Vermouth).

Reservations are a must – well in advance!

Our lunch was a superb addition to a Niagara wine weekend.

Summer Solstice at Hidden Bench

We spent a delightful evening (and the weather cooperated), celebrating summer solstice with our Hidden Bench hosts and fellow supporters, friends and family.

Sparkling wine complemented superb oysters. Hors d’oeuvres were served throughout the cocktail hour.

Dinner was served looking out over the vineyard. Citrus cured hamachi paired with 2017 Estate Chardonnay. Seared Ontario Lamb Sirloin with 2015 Terroir Cache. Upper Canada Cheese Selection.

The band played the entire evening.

Thank you, Harald Thiel. All the best to Meg McGrath.

Hidden Bench Wine Pairings Fall 2018

Proprietor Harald Thiel and retail manager Meg McGrath rolled out the new wines in the Hidden Bench pre-release Wine Club event. The day was cool and misty so the crackling fire in the stone fireplace on the patio was certainly welcome.

Served while the participants were gathering:

2017 Nocturn Rosé – Tasting Note

At the tasting:

2013 Blanc de Blanc, Zero Dosage (92 pts, Jamie Goode) – a refreshing, just disgorged, sparkling with very fine bubbles (apparently this is achieved through leaving the juice longer on the lees). The pairing was in-house smoked salmon creme on spelt crostini with Canadian caviar and citrus. Tasting Note

2017 Estate Riesling A dry riesling from a vintage that suffered from too much rain but an amazing, unexpected pairing. Upper Canada Cheese Heritage Cheddar and Niagara green apple grilled cheese with spiced apple butter. Never occurred to me to drink riesling with grilled cheese but I will certainly do it again.

2015 Téte de Cuvée Chardonnay (94 pts, David Lawrason) Gold medal winner at the 2018 National Wine Awards of Canada.

2015 Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay (93 pts, Michael Godel) Platinum medal winner at the 2018 National Wine Awards of Canada.

The group did a vote as to which of the two chardonnays was preferred. Blind tasted (as to the award) the majority voted for the Platinum winner. These two wines were paired with an oak-smoked Ontario pork nacken ‘duo’ (nacken was not a term I had heard before but is applied to a specific cut of pork that, unsmoked, is used for pulled pork) with fresh peach preserve and apricot compote.

2016 Rosomel Vineyard Nuit Blanche (93 pts, Jamie Goode) The amount of semillon was upped in this vintage and it is very fruit driven. A turkey wine!! Paired with ‘Turkey Dinner’ schnitzel (turkey, panko crumbs) – Tasting Note

2016 Estate Pinot Noir (92 pts, Michael Godel) This was a warm, dry vintage producing a light coloured pinot similar to a Roussillon. Harald quoted an assertion that “if you can’t read your newspaper through the wine, it isn’t pinot”. In looking up this quote touching on the colour of pinot I fell across quite a fascinating article about “faux” Languedoc-Roussillon pinot noir – well worth the read here.  This pinot was paired with a scrumptious roasted, glazed cremini mushroom cap stuffed with pancetta and parmesan gratinée – Tasting Note

2015 Locust Lane Pinot Noir (93 pts, Jamie Goode) – Harald described this wine as “brawnier” relative to the Estate Pinot we had just tasted. Of course it had more age but also more structure and richer colour. Again a surprising pairing – lamb bourguignon with Pinot Noir and pearl onion jus.

2015 Terroir Caché (93 pts, Jamie Goode)  This is a blend of 36% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, 24% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon.This blend was not made in 2014. Paired with beef short rib braised with Cabernet and black pepper with a suet pastry crumble scattered on top.

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.