New wines from Trius, Thirty Bench, and Peller Estates

"... we stopped to taste a list of new and recently released wines from Trius, Thirty Bench and Peller Estates ..."

Winemakers’ tasting January 13, 2017

On the drive down to Niagara Falls to attend the 2017 edition of the Icewine Gala with my colleagues Tony Aspler and Michael Vaughn, we stopped at Trius Winery to taste some recently released wines. Our hosts were the winemakers from three Niagara wineries of the Andrew Peller group, Craig McDonald of Trius, Emma Garner of Thirty Bench, and Katie Dickieson of Peller Estates.

Winemakers Emma Garner of Thirty Bench, Craig McDonald of Trius and Katie Dickieson of Peller Estate
(Pictures excerpted from winery websites)

As we sat down for an extended and detailed chat, Craig set things in motion by pouring us some bubbles, the very good non-vintage Trius Brut Rosé that occasionally comes through Vintages in Ontario. I last tasted this for a release in December of 2015, and I hope it appears on our shelves again soon!


Trius Brut Rosé , VQA Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #184309 • $29.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This non-vintage traditional method sparkling wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir, with 15% Chardonnay and equal parts Gamay Noir and Pinot Meunier. The wine is salmon-coloured with glints of copper. Aromas of strawberries, perfumed red apples and lemon are complemented by a light floral-apple blossom note, with a hint of toast underneath. The wine is dry, with bright acidity and lighter alcohol. The fruit and floral notes replay on the palate, which finishes with a crisp and slightly bitter, mineral finish. Very good.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review

We proceeded slowly through twelve more wines: six from Trius and three each from Thirty Bench and Peller. The first five wines were white wines, all from the 2015 Vintage and two of them newly created labels: the Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Chardonnay, and the Trius Viognier.


Trius Sauvignon Blanc 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #0 • $14.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This Sauvignon has a touch of barrel aging, perhaps 10%, with the balance stainless steel. The wine is very light straw in colour. Notes of dried herbs, cut grass and a hint of resin edge the lemon, green apple and white grapefruit aromas. Brisk acidity defines the palate, and the fruit carries into a crisp and dry finish. An excellent value.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Trius Riesling (Dry) 2015, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake

Vintages #0 • $13.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
The wine is watery white. Hints of green herbs and Riesling mineral-rubber presage aromas of lime, red apple perfume, and melon. There is a very small amount of residual sugar, almost completely mopped up by vivid acidity that drives the herbs and fruit on the palate. What an amazing value!
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Thirty Bench Small Lot "Wild Cask" Riesling 2015, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

Vintages #0 • $30.00 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This cuvée is a blend of two 500-litre "wild ferment" casks with 1500 litres from stainless steel tanks fermented with commercial yeasts. The wine is very light straw in colour. The nose features subtle lemon, lime, red apple and melon aromas, with a crushed stone undertone. The wine is off-dry, with sweetness balanced by vibrant acidity. There is a lovely creamy and lightly honeyed texture that softens the citrus core of the palate, and the finish dries with a lingering minerality. Lovely wine indeed.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Thirty Bench Winemaker's Blend Chardonnay 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #0 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
"Winemaker's Blend" is a new label that uses partial non-estate fruit, that will allow Thirty Bench to extend its reach beyond the limits engendered by the size of the estate vineyards. In this case, there is a mix of estate fruit with grapes from Niagara-on-the-Lake, including 10% Chardonnay Musqué. The wine is pale straw, with fresh, youthful lemon, yellow apple, melon and floral notes complemented by hints of resin and vanilla. It is nicely balanced, with firm acidity driving the palate into a lemony-stony finish. The wine was aged in 100% French oak for eleven months, 15-20% new. Interestingly, malolactic conversion was blocked to emphasize the crisp acidity, and the Musqué element is subtle and integrated. Very good first effort. (price tentatively $17-$20)
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Trius Viognier 2015, VQA Four Mile Creek

Vintages #0 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is the first Viognier that Trius has ever made, sourced from the first crop of three-year-old vines from the estate's Ghost Creek vineyard — just 180 cases produced. Light straw-yellow in colour, the nose shows lovely freshness: lemon of course, but apricot, peach, yellow apple and melon, with light white flower and peach blossom notes. The wine is dry, with bright acidity, very modest alcohol and nicely textured fruit — a subtle firmness that may be the effect of barrel aging in relatively neutral oak. A hint of stony minerality emerges to complement a slight bitterness on the finish. A very good wine now, showing great potential for future vintages. (Price not yet determined, but less than $20.)
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review

Of the seven red wines, four were from 2015, two from 2014, and one was a treat from 2007. The first four wines reflect the group’s growing emphasis on Gamay and Pinot Noir, including a new Gamay-Pinot blend. The fifth was an excellent premium Cabernet Franc, the sixth a Cabernet Sauvignon from 2007, and the last wine the first vintage of a newly created Shiraz.


Peller Estate Private Reserve Gamay Noir 2015, VQA Four Mile Creek

Vintages #0 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This Gamay is sourced from Peller's Carlton St. Vineyard, one of their warmest sites. Grapes are destemmed but not crushed, and the wine is aged in older, neutral oak: 50% in 600-litre demi-muids and 50% in larger format oak vats. The wine is transparent ruby-red in hue. The nose is highly aromatic, presenting aromas of fully ripe cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, with light earthy, savoury and pencil lead undertones. The wine is dry, with bright acidity, moderate alcohol and soft, silky tannins. The palate is juicy, with some ripe fruit richness and a hint of red licorice, but never loses the bright, fresh character at its core. Compelling Gamay.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Thirty Bench Winemaker's Blend Double Noir 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #493973 • $18.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is a second wine in Thirty Bench's new Winemaker's Blend series, that brings in fruit from outside the estate —in this case 100% from Niagara-on-the-Lake. As the name suggests, it is a blend of Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir, and the ratio is 60-40 Gamay to Pinot. The wine was aged for 10 months in French oak. It is medium ruby-red in colour. Pretty cherry, raspberry and blackberry aromas replay on the palate, where the lively acidity and fine but persistent tannins tighten and centre the fruit nicely, leaving a savoury undertone, and leading to a crisp, lingering finish. Firm and elegant. (Price expected to be just under $20.)
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Peller Estate Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, VQA Four Mile Creek

Vintages #0 • $24.80 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This wine is sourced from Peller's Clark Farm vineyard, from young vines planted in 2010 and 2011, and was aged in neutral, older French oak. The wine is medium ruby-red, with bright cherry, raspberry and blackberry aromas, underpinned by earthy, twiggy notes. Bright acidity and fine-grained and slightly powdery tannins define the palate, where a firm, savoury element adds additional depth. Well-structured, elegant and harmonious.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Trius Showcase Clark Farm Pinot Noir 2014, VQA Four Mile Creek

Vintages #0 • $36.00 • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This Pinot in Trius' premium Showcase series is from older vines from the estate's Clark Farm Vineyard. Crop thinning and the natural warmth of the vineyard generate ripe fruit, and long maceration during and after fermentation generates significant extraction. The wine is aged in French oak, 25% new. While there is lots of ripe cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit and a light floral note on the nose, it is the savoury and earthy elements that bring so much interest and depth. Acidity is elevated, and the tannins are firm and dense, matching the savoury, earthy and slightly rustic flavours at the core. This is a Pinot that asks for food and demands contemplation, and should reward five or more years of cellar time.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2014, VQA Four Mile Creek

Vintages #0 • $45.00 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This is a seriously interesting Cabernet Franc from the Clark Farm Vineyard. With its moderate summer and extended warm fall, 2014 led to a lengthy hang time that slowed sugar accumulation in the grapes and allowed full physiological ripeness to develop. The wine is still youthful in appearance — purple with some translucence, and violet on the rim. The nose is complex and dense, suggesting vivid blackberry, black cherry, plum and black currant fruit, green herbs, tobacco, forest floor, and hints of cedary resin. The wine is dry, with brisk acidity, moderate alcohol, and slightly chewy tannins. The fruit replays on the palate, edged by the light herbal element, while the earthy notes take on a graphite edge on the cedary finish. This wine nicely rides the edge, showing both real Cabernet Franc varietal character and dense ripe fruit. Lovely.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Peller Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake

Vintages #0 • $ • 750ml. • WD Score 91/100
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is from the very warm 2007 vintage, and was aged for 18 months in oak (60% French, 40% American). The wine pours red with garnet on the rim. There is still a core of plum, blackberry and black currant fruit, but savoury tobacco, earth, forest floor and cedar elements are taking the fore as the wine is evolving. The structure is finely balanced: dry with firm acidity and elevated but resolving tannins. The wine is aging beautifully, with lots of life and growing complexity. Kudos to Laurence Buehler, the winemaker at the time.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review


Trius Shiraz 2015, VQA Niagara Peninsula

Vintages #0 • $19.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This Shiraz (really it's a Syrah in style!) is another new offering from Trius. These grapes are sourced from young vines, three to six years old, planted by one of their long-term growers. The wine is co-fermented with about 5-8% Viognier, and was aged in 2000-litre oak casks. It is a youthful, deep purple, showing violet on the rim. Exuberant aromas of blueberry, blackberry and plum are graced by notes of violets and pepper, with just a hint of roasted coffee bean. The wine is lean and spicy on the palate, with lots of bright fruit, but with a firm savoury underpinning. A terrific northern Rhône-style wine.
Tasted 1/13/2017 • • • Share Review

All of the 2014 and 2015 wines will be available through their respective wineries.


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