Fifty-dollar Franc: Hillebrand Estates Showcase Glenlake Vineyard 2000

cabernet franc ontario varietal groux wine 2000 glenlake vineyard showcase label hillebrand estate wineryI had the luck to upgrade to this expensive bottle when my Hillebrand thirty-dollar-something was tainted. I took it back to the winery's shop and in exchange I received this gem. (Click image for product info.)

Okay, it's not cheap. But it's proof that Ontario can produce some very strong international wine. Credit the fantastic winemaker J. L. Groux, now making wines for Stratus, which is another Niagara Peninsula winery just down the street from the Hillebrand Estates Winery. Groux is getting a bigger and bigger reputation with each passing day and I consider myself lucky to have some of his best Glenlake years, which is where this bottle is coming from. I don't think it's outside the range of a good Saint-Émilion, either in terms of quality or in terms of price.

Both sides hate the comparison though, so here are my notes, straight-ahead.

The Hillebrand Estates Showcase Cabernet Franc Glenlake Vineyard 2000 has a light magenta colour. (At this point, I worried about whether this bottle was past its design life as several winos forecast 2008 as a definite best-before expiration. That's just my nerves though.)

On the nose there were beautiful musky and mellow tones. The bouquet is so alluring that I wanted to return to it even after my first sip. You could bask in it. With repeated sniffs I picked up confit of fig. Yummy.

This was reflected in my first taste. It's noticeably supple and rich in the mouth. You could sense the age on this wine. On the palate I found both a typically leafy and a more unique vegetal profile. Yes, it was partly characteristic green pepper but also a fantastic combination of pithy tomato and stewed vegetables. There was some vanilla too, and since the wine was peaking and potentially fading, it threatened to round off the wine's acidity as I drank. But it did not gradually take over as the night wore on. The edges stayed on and the wine was admirably cohesive.

This Glenlake Showcase was not all that long on the finish. Neverthelss, the wine was well served by food. I chose pungent but profiled flavours to embrace the wine rather than strong-arm it. I came up with a dish scented with fresh rosemary and delicious packed tuna in 100% olive oil all tossed together with three-colour pasta. Homemade toasted thyme pita with some melted cheese also played to the strengths of this wine.

Despite the successful match to light meal like this, the wine went with saucier red meat the following night and it also complemented the wine. But perhaps that's why I love a good Cabernet Franc. It's such a wonderful wine to have on the dinner table.

Click the images below for full details on the bottle label.


Joe said...

Hmm - luck? Canadian wine? I'm not convinced...I will have to taste this blind.

Marcus said...

Get your blindfold out then! I'm going to Niagara very very soon. Perfect opportunity to get some more of this great stuff.

Just let me know, Joe.

Joe said...

I would seriously take one of those, just to compare to some other Cab Francs.

Marcus said...

Hmmm... For $50.20, the Hillebrand online merchant says a few bottles still remain. Problem is that they won't deliver outside of Ontario. So forget them. I'm your man.

But are you totally sure you want to jump in at the $50 level? Maybe I should first ask you to go into your Ontario wine history here and prevent any potential disasters in the offing. I really do think this Cab Franc is a fine representative for Niagara but I got mine for a fraction of the current price because I traded up (and I got my hands on it in previous years when it was selling cheaper). I guess I just feel pressure seeing as I've never recommended a $50 wine to anyone before.

Can we make it a swap? I know you want to free up some space in that cellar of yours.

Joe said...

Thank you for the offer, but I think I'd better pass - I need to drink what is in my cellar, not swap! When I work my inventory down I will be in a swap mood.
I think I will do a Niagara tour this year and taste before I buy.

Marcus said...

No problem, Joe.

I hate to force wine on people. And the last time someone offered to swap with me I had so many bottles at the time my response was the same as yours.