Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Today we have another Cabernet Sauvignon from California but this time from Napa Valley. Napa Valley has become known as a luxury wine region catering to many high end customers with their cult wines. This wine tries to buck the trend of highly expensive wines while maintaining a good level of quality.

The story of Twenty Bench wines is quite interesting. In 2000 two friends purchased 20 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon from another friend’s vineyard in the Napa Valley with no specific plan for those grapes. Their winemaker produced a wine and labelled the barrels “twenty bench” after the tonnage of grapes used and the lay the of land in which the grapes came from, a gentle rising bench. After sitting in barrels for a year the friends decided it was time to bottle the wine at a fair price. Now after 13 years of doing the same thing (and being successful at it) they’ve started to produce a Chardonnay with the same idea, a good wine at a fair price, all from the “luxurious” Napa Valley.

While this wine wasn’t my favorite, I think it has great potential for aging and improvement over time. I prefer a wine, at this point in my wine career, to be drinkable now and not have to wait for it to mellow out in the bottle. We decanted the wine for almost 2 hours before we drank it, but I think it would be better with 4-5 hours removing some of the bitter flavours and becoming more fruity.

See: The wine is a purple violet red colour, which in a Cabernet Sauvignon usually means it is quite young, which this one is being a 2012.

Smell: At first it seems a bit bland in aroma, or as wine geeks would say, “tight”, smelling more savoury than fruity. While there are aromas of  dark cherry and plum, more so we found peppery and herbal spices, like oregano or rosemary overpowering the fruit. After more decanting time it smells a bit like stewed or dried fruit, prunes and dried cherries.

Taste: This wine tends towards medium bodied rather than full like some of the other California Cabernet Sauvignon we’ve had lately. It has nicely balanced smooth tannins and a fairly high amount of acidity (good for aging). Flavours are much more savoury with heavy oak influence, smokiness, and minerality. The finish is quite dry with charcoal and tobacco.

Conclusion: This wine seems to have been produced in a more traditional Bordeaux style Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine features more earth, mineral, and heavy oak than fruitiness. With some age these more astringent flavours should subside and softer ones emerge. Oh to be able to buy a case and watch it evolve over many years!

In the very least we’ll buy this wine again sometime and allow it to air for 4-5 hours before trying it. I’ll update this post if I find a difference. For now I’ll rate it with a 7.5/10 only because I want a wine that is drinkable now, not 5 years from now. I’d say this rating will go up with each progressive year of aging. In the meantime I think this wine would go great with a big barbecued steak.

  • 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 2% Petite Sirah
  • USA, California, Napa Valley
  • 2012 – 13.5%
  • Twenty Bench Wines
  • $19.50 at Costco Red Deer
  • Real cork

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