2010 Hidden Bench La Brunante

This past weekend started on the Friday with the iconic ’09 Insignia so I thought on Saturday it would be worth pulling out one of the best Bordeaux style blends Canada has to offer. A great many Ontarians, let alone Canadians, have little understanding of the quality wine that our country produces. For every bottle of plonk that is made domestically (marketed to a bargain basement price point) there are tremendous examples of craftsmanship and excellence that are tucked away from plain sight. Hidden Bench is one of those producers that few are vaguely aware of, and only if they peruse the local Vintages section of their LCBO. The winery only has, on occasion, three wines that grace the shelves of the LCBO and the two principle staples are estate blends. The wine today is Hidden Bench’s answer to the Insignia, and while people may scoff at the concept, it is not a far off idea that the quality of the two are similar. The variation in growing conditions, volume of growing land and the regions terroir are what make the differences. La Brunante (as well as wines like Fielding‘s Chosen Few and even Trius‘ Grand Red to name a few others) is a shining of example of how solid the Niagara region can be on big reds.

Usually I go into the a bit of detail on the winemaking overview or ideas, but I thought I’d share the winemaker’s words on this in verbatim:

La Brunante is the flagship Bordeaux style blend from Hidden Bench made only in the best years where optimum maturity and flavour development are achieved in the vineyard. This small‐lot wine was harvested from our highest performing Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc parcels across our three Estate vineyards. Yields from this blocks were extremely low (less than 1.5 metric tonne per acre on average) which contributes to the concentration and power of the wine. All blocks used in this assemblage were fermented separately in small batches, hand‐plunged to gently extract ripe tannins, and then gravity transferred to barrel. Malolactic fermentation occurred spontaneously in barrel via natural bacteria. The wine was blended at the first racking of the six barrels in April 2011, and then returned to the same barrels. After a further 13 months in barrel, the wine was bottled using gravity. This wine has never been pumped, fined or filtered.  

So what did it taste like and what were the thoughts? Here you go:

On the decant the inky violet colour stood out, I often take this to indicate solid fruit and youth, something I was not expecting from a 7 year old wine. The nose had currants and black pepper, and was surprising “soft”. That was the last time I’d use the word soft when it came to this wine. The initial tastes were raspberries, black currants and plum. It was bold on the palate to start with a long finish. The tannins were still very solid and this wine has more time in bottle to be had. The fruit was still strong and the word deep and heavy come to mind. The more time in glass eased this complex wine and brought out more subtleties, including more pepper and hints of tobacco. This is a very good wine, it has excellent structure and great fruit. If you own some bottles you should be richly rewarded by properly cellaring them for 2-5 more years. However, it is drinking brilliantly now with a good 20 minute decant. Open this wine to fool your friends who are California or old world wine snobs, as it will shock them to find out the origin.

The CWG Subjective Rating is 95 out of 100.

2010 La Brunante


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