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Malivoire on the Move

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By Alan McGinty

Some of the jazzy new labels Malivoire has recently launched.

Malivoire Winery on the Beamsville Bench has been pretty reliable at higher price points. Now they're introducing new labels and wines and they're about to launch red and white blends for the LCBO's General List.      

Martin Malivoire and Moira Saganski bought the "Moira" vineyard in the Beamsville Bench in 1995 and bought the nearby winery site the following year. Between 1995 and 2000, around 50 acres were planted with chardonnay, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, gamay and pinot noir. Malivoire also buys grapes from older vineyards, including ones in Jordan and Vineland, and the winery has developed a good reputation. The winemaker is called, appropriately, Shiraz Mouttier (and, no, he doesn't think we should be growing shiraz in Ontario).      

The winery, which is certified organic but doesn't trumpet the fact, is now in another expansion phase. Malivoire recently struck a new deal with the LCBO to supply several thousand of cases of popular-priced blends. Like fancy Stratus, Malivoire will now be offering a "Red" and a "White" blend, but at a lower price point.       

I attended a tasting at La Gamelle on College St. near Bathurst. Seafood tapas would probably best describe the food, which included terrific grilled shrimp and a great tapanade. I loved the Radio Canada in the background: in between the smooth music was well modulated commentary en francais. Such a pleasant surprise.   Another surprise was finding out that Martin Malivoire has a helicopter - he checks out his vineyards from above and sometimes flies to town to avoid the traffic on the QEW. I asked if he had to file a flight plan with St. Catharines airport or something and he said no. I wondered if this is because there aren't many helicopters in Niagara so it doesn't matter, he said "oh there's a few." I didn't write it down, but I think he said he can get up to 170 km/h (or possibly mph), but recall him agreeing when I suggested it would beat a Porsche pushing the limit on the highway. All I could think was "wow!"     

Malivoire's wines generally come in at higher price points. Martin Maliviore is concerned that the winery might have an "elite" image and is taking steps to change that: "We're working towards a bigger production level to keep prices down and we've introduced a new label design and a range of more approachable wines."  All Malivoire wines are VQA and the new General List wines represent Malivoire dipping a toe into the cold and fast-moving waters of the price-conscious end of the wine market. They've been in bottle just a month or so, which suggests they will probably change and potentially soften a little over the next few months, but here's what I thought:     

Malivoire White 2008. $14.95 Rather muted nose of white fruit and very high acidity on the palate. But there's more than enough fruit on the palate - including peach and lime - so that it comes across as fairly easy drinking. It's nicely dry in the middle, but the fruit comes back on the finish and lingers. It's dominated by chardonnay and there's riesling but I didn't guess the gewurztraminer. It is only 5% of the blend so it's not very obvious but provides good fruit. Fresh and nice overall. 3+ stars out of 5  

Malivoire Red 2008. $14.95 Very bold nose with dark red fruit and some tobacco notes. Lots of ripe plum and berry fruit on the palate, which is relatively smooth and has pronounced tobacco notes, evident tannins and good acidity. Merlot, cab sauv and gamay are the components. It's only been in bottle a month could potentially calm down and smoothen out. 3 stars out of 5  

Malivoire has produced around 4,000 cases of the "Red" and "White" wines and the LCBO is apparently very keen to stock it. They're at the upper end of the General List price range, but they deliver. 

Look for them across the province at the end of August.

Alive Pinot Noir 2007. $29.95 Fairly light ruby colour, dark berry fruit and tobacco on the nose. Very dry on the palate - tannins seriously elevated and it's very tight. There is ripe red fruit under, as well as tobacco and a bit of green note. Good finish with the fruit cautiously emerging. This isn't ready yet but it is promising. 3+ stars out of 5  

Gewurztraminer 2008. $24.95 Super big gewurz nose of lichee, floral notes and spice. Fairly full on the palate, which has lots of soft tropical fruit, mainly lichee. Even with all the fruit, it's relatively dry. Nice finish. 4 stars out of 5  

Malivoire Estate Chardonnay 2007. $19.95 This one still has the old style label and is a "Vintages Essential" I've enjoyed before. Very fresh nose that's not too fruity but has hints of honeydew melon and citrus plus a mineral note. The palate is clean, light and fresh, with muted yet ripe white fruit, some very slight buttery/butterscotch from its delicate oak treatment and a lovely clean finish. A good 'cool climate' chard. 4 stars out of 5  

Guilty Men Red 2008. $19.95 A good amount of ripe red fruit on the nose, with plenty of darker cigar/tobacco notes and a little bit dill/olive greenery. Ripe red berry fruit on the palate, lots of tobacco, tannins and acidity both elevated. Good finish. 3+ stars out of 5  

Mottiar Chardonnay 2007. $29.95 Very fresh nose with some oaky notes over the ripe white apple and yellow plum fruit. Lovely and smooth on the palate, which is also has fresh acidity - it paired very nicely with the seafood. Good finish. 4+ stars out of 5  

Moira Vineyard 2007. $39.95 Another very fresh nose with a varied play of lighter white fruit, including some green apple and a hint of spice too. 15 months in barrel means the oak is evident, but it never dominates. There's ripe apple fruit on the fresh palate and there's a hint of smoke on the terrific lingering finish. 4+ stars out of 5  

Courtney Gamay 2007. $29.95 Very dark colour - almost inky. Forget the strawberry sundae fun from Beaujolais - this gamay has lots of ripe dark plum fruit, tobacco and cigar as well as some spicy notes. Tannins are very high, and the acidity is up there too a serious surprise. 4 stars out of 5   [bottle pic here]    Some of the jazzy new labels Malivoire has recently launched. The new General List red is on the right


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