2015 Trius “Red – The Icon”, Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario, Canada (Alcohol 12.5%) LCBO Vintages/Winery/The Wine Shop $24.95 (750ml)

Trius Red must have been one of the very first Ontario wines I tasted when I first visited Canada over two decades ago; back then, during my formative Canadian years, I remember it being fairly ubiquitous at family gatherings and the like. I also recall greatly enjoying it upon many an occasion as it was always a rock solid wine, each year speaking to the vintage, but at the same time exhibiting a consistent polish and finesse that was unmistakably Trius.

But somewhere along the line, in the intervening years, I’ll admit that it fell off my radar as I scanned the aisles for more and more esoteric pleasures, both in wine and in life.

Perhaps, when it comes to wine, familiarity really does breed something approaching contempt, but I certainly never thought badly of this Canadian classic. Perhaps I just thought of it as yesterday’s news? And what a fickle fool was I.

I’ve tasted some venerable back vintages of the Trius Red, and was always amazed at just how well they stood the test of time, particularly some of the really old bottlings assembled by none other than J.L. Groux back in the day. Stratus’ Groux still speaks extremely fondly (and with a certain understated pride) of his many years as Winemaker at Trius, née Hillebrand. In conversation, Trius’ current Winemaker Craig McDonald talks of Groux’s Trius vintages with a perceptible air of admiration, “He certainly knew what he was doing back then, did J.L..” 

Revisiting Trius Red (now subtitled “The Icon”) in the 2015 vintage, I find myself scratching my head as to why I lost track of this old, steadfast friend. Even in its relative youth, Craig McDonald’s current Trius Red is one fantastic bottle of wine, delivering instant vinous pleasure now, but promising myriad complex delectations in its future. I do remember past vintages of Groux’s Trius Reds being a little closed in their youth, and sadly I oft committed infanticide with them when my home wine supply was getting dangerously low. With his recent vintages McDonald appears to have found that perfect equilibrium betwixt irresistible accessibility and long term ageability. And this is key.

Trius Red has always been an exercise in equilibrium, as this concept is wholly inherent to the art of assemblage. The 2015 vintage sees a blend of 43% Cabernet Franc, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Merlot harvested from Trius’ own estate vineyards and augmented with some fruit from Niagara Peninsula growers that the winery has worked with for many years, hence the Niagara Peninsula VQA designation. The wine then sees 12 months in both French and American cooperage, and while the oak treatment certainly shows, it’s perfectly fitting with the ripe fruit at the very core of this superb wine.

In the glass the 2015 shows a markedly dark and intense purple hue. The nose, even this early into its life, is a complex one, but it is all wrapped around a remarkable pure fruit core of black berry fruits (read: blackcurrants, brambles, black raspberries), dark plums, raspberries, and black cherries. There’s a nice whiff of some top notch wood spice in there, and it frames the fruit perfectly, integrated on both on the nose and palate. There are also intriguing aromatics of woodsmoke, leather, and tobacco leaf. The plate is generous, but also elegant and structured, with finely managed and polished tannins giving the wine a great deal of finesse; this is certainly not something that one would expect to see in a wine at this price point. In the longingly persistent finish I find a touch of cocoa powder and a graphite-like mineral element.

Yes, it all sounds too good to be true for all of $24.95, but this is a seriously great wine, a true Canadian icon, and I was well overdue a revisit. 

(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And it was lovely to go back to the Trius Red.