Natalie's Score: 89/100
Vintages Wine Panel: Meritage is composed exclusively of those grape varietals made famous in Bordeaux, and is styled after this famed region’s classic blended reds and whites. According to the Vintners Quality Alliance of Ontario rules, a red Meritage must contain “a blend of two or more of the following grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, or Malbec.” Getting your tongue around Meritage is easy - once you realize that it is not a French word but one conceived on this side of the pond. It’s a combination of the words ‘merit’ and ‘heritage’, and rhymes with the latter. The first word evokes the quality of the wines and the second salutes Bordeaux’s winemaking heritage and age-old tradition of blending. Ontario’s Meritage makers, like their peers in Bordeaux, take full advantage of this wine style’s blending possibilities. Working in a generally cool climate, like that of Bordeaux, and a relatively short growing season, definitely requires a flexible approach. Not surprisingly, of the grapes used in an Ontario red Meritage, early-ripening Merlot and winter-hardy Cabernet Franc tend to face fewer challenges than late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. A Meritage’s final blend, then, is a reflection of how each varietal fared in a given vintage, with the riper, juicier grapes leading the way. With options like these, producers are able to consistently make wines of high quality year after year. Hillebrand’s Trius Red was among Niagara’s first Meritage wines and year after year it demonstrates the strength of blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A consistently delicious wine, this medium-bodied red displays complex aromas of cedar, blackcurrant and tobacco leading to a clean, juicy, medium-long finish. My note: I've recommended this wine for a number of vintages now because it's extremely consistent and delicious. Great structure and balance with classic aromas of blackberry, cassis and black plum.
Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot Petit Verdot Malbec food pairings: pan-fried sirloin strips and mixed bell peppers, semi-hard cheeses.
This was reviewed February 28, 2009 by Natalie MacLean