Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Report from: Malivoire Wine Company Open House - June 2, 2007

Once a year Malivoire throws open its doors and invites the public inside to take a look. The invited guests are anyone who has purchased a bottle of Malivoire wine in the past and has given them their email address in the process. Every year I always had something else planned, so never did the tour - this year I made sure to get myself on the list for a walk around. Interesting to note, the tour is free, but it is such an in demand event that to book you have to leave a credit card number to hold your space. If you fail to show up the fee is $10.00, but if you show it's gratis.

The tour starts on a mini-school bus that rides you to the top of the winery ... the winery is gravity flow and thus slants downhill. As we learned on the tour there is little to no pumping that happens at Malivoire, their wine flows from one place to another as naturally as possible, there was only one mention of pumps being used. We started out in the vineyard were shoots were growing at 2 inches per day - the vineyard manager was practically dancing between the rows of grapes. Then Martin Malivoire arrived to take us inside, where he described how things were designed and the winery's theory and practice of winemaking. A food and wine pairing that was truly magnificent was served: the 2004 Moira Chardonnay ($36) paired with grilled halibut over mango salsa and veal strip loin over thyme sweet potato mash ... delicious. Martin also made the bold statement that Ontario is making better Gamay than anywhere else in the world ... pretty bold - but he just might be right (see wine reviews below).

From there it's to the sorting and pressing area ... then to the tank room and another pairing - this time 2004 Pinot Noir ($28) with three different kinds of cheese, each bringing out a different aspect of the wine. The tour ends down the stairs and into the wine store about 45 minutes after in began. All the principals were there, owner Martin Malivoire, who’s an engaging and enjoyable speaker, to winemaker Shiraz (swear to God that's his real name), who has a quiet charm in the way he addresses the crowd. Of course, I left out many details because I think it's a tour worth taking and one you should definitely investigate doing next year (or in the years to come) - and if I told you all the details there would be no need for you to visit. Take my advice, sign up for the tour.

Wines Tasted …

In the wine store I tasted a number of good to excellent wines; here are the highlights:

2006 Pinot Gris ($18) - great pineapple and citrus on the nose - the mouth was all lime, grapefruit and green apple tartness - clean and refreshing.

2006 Chardonnay Musque ($18) - the label says “Spritz”, and there definitely is one, but it's not overly noticeable as in a sparkling wine kinda way - it's there then it's gone, leaving apple, melon (cantaloupe) and palate cleansing sweetness (4) - but it does not taste as sweet as its code suggests (must be the spritz). Nine percent alcohol makes this a true summer afternoon delight.

2004 Moira Vineyard Chardonnay ($36) - butterscotch and fruity nose gives way to apricot, apple, mango, oak and some supple vanilla in the mouth. A pleasantly long finish makes this a palate pleasing wine. Could also stand a few years in the cellar – depending how you like your Chardonnay.

2004 Gamay ($16) and 2005 Courtney Gamay ($29) - Martin proclaimed Gamay as Ontario's grape to own, and the way he's making Gamay I can see why. The ’04 is red fruit dominated with red licorice and cherry on the nose. The palate is earthy red fruit and finishes with strawberries - this is a chillable red for sure. I am told the 2005 Gamay is something to behold and should be released in the next few months. The 2005 Courtney is a keeper (five to six years at that), only 130 cases were made and it’s selling briskly and I can taste why. The nose is cinnamon, vanilla and red fruit, while the palate follows through with some earthy qualities and tart strawberries wrapped up in a thin coat of cedar and oak; must be from the twelve months in new and one year old French and American oak barrels. The limited quantity of this wine is due to the selection process - only the top five barrels from this vineyard’s output goes into making this wine.

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