Monday, November 30, 2009

November 2009 Niagara Trip: 6 Tasted of 6

When we relocated to Burlington in 2000 it was following a couple of trips through the Okanagan, first on our way to a new home on Vancouver Island and them on our return to Ontario eight years later. We didn’t realize between the going and the coming that BC wines had patterned our palates - from a European old world style molded by years of wines purchased from the Opimian Society to a brighter fruit-biased style. We had started drinking Okanagan followed by New Zealand, Chilean, Australian and Argentinan wines. Niagara, at the time, was neglected as most wineries visited during our Ontario days had left us confused as to style of wines and terroirs.

On return, one of our first visits to Niagara Peninsula was to tour the Malivoire (View It!) winery in 2001. Located in Beamsville (Map It!) and on the slope of the Escarpment, Malivoire was one of the first gravity flow or Newtonian wineries in Niagara. We enjoyed tasting their early releases combining them with tasty hors d’oeuvres. My impression was of full-bodied oaked reds, oaked Chardonnays and full Pinot Gris with soft fruit and herbaceous spices. Our case of 1999 Old Vines Foch (Canadian oak) purchased in 2001 mellowed nicely becoming an excellent red when retasted just this year (92). The Moira Chardonnay 2000, initially full flavoured, in 2005 didn’t fare as well as cellaring turned butterscotch into burnt caramel and ‘herbaceous’ into straw. Much the same with the 2001 Chardonnay and the 2000 and 2002 Pinot Gris, purchased in 2001 and 2003 resp. when retasted in 2005 and 2006.

Prompting my trip last Sunday was the recent General listing of two Malivoire LCBO blends simply called ‘Red’ (90) and ‘White’ (92). On this visit each of the Malivoire’s wines tasted were much lighter with a silky mouth feel. The fruit was fresher, softer and had a depth warranting slow sipping or serving with milder foods. Time will tell how they cellar. I tasted four white and four reds, including two Ice Wines. The following were purchased for more casual sipping and for my BH to contribute her opinion.

Cheers, Ww

  • Malivoire White 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-3 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #141531 $14.95
  • Malivoire Gewurztraminer Ice Wine 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-1  -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $35.05 
  • Malivoire Cabernet Franc Ice Wine 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-1 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #685602 $35.05
  • Malivoire Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 90-2 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #573147 $19.95
  • Malivoire ‘Guilty Men’ Red 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $19.95
  • Malivoire ‘Estate Bottled’ Pinot Noir 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, 79 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #996777 $24.95
(O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


MALIVOIRE ‘GUILTY MEN’ RED 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery $19.95 (Tasted December 1, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Spicy plum, black cherry and cedar on the nose. The mouth feel is round and smooth, awakening the palate to flavours of raspberry, black currant and dark chocolate. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 35%, Merlot 35%, Pinot Noir 15% and Gamay 11% and Cabernet Franc 4%. Hand harvested, each variety was fermented separately in stainless steel and oak. Each small lot was then aged in French and American oak for an average of 7 months.” My notes: Perfumed aromas (like a server wearing cologne): powerful at first pouring tapering to a blend of violets, cedar, raspberry and blackberry. A thin film and fast tears, transparent in the glass giving a cheerful ruby glow and a first sip that is silky smooth with soft tannins and tangy edge. The finish fades slowly taking most of the fruit leaving a slight oil and some spice. This could be popular in a mixed crowd: not likely staunch red drinkers tho’. I found the aroma crept through the flavours and detracted from a meal of meatloaf, green beans and baked potato - better paired with rosemary’d lamb. Was OK but a tad thin next day with a grilled steak.  A drink now.  86

MALIVOIRE ‘ESTATE BOTTLED’ PINOT NOIR 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D, #996777 $24.95 (Tasted December 2, 2009) CS

The Winery says “A traditional Pinot Noir, red cherry and forest floor aromas are followed by complex flavours of sweet cherry pie, citrus, dried tobacco, clove and juniper twig. Medium-bodied with soft tannins, this wine finishes long, creamy and fresh.” My notes: A see-through ruby, clean and clear in the bowl with delicate, earth tainted scents of blueberry and cherry. Thin on the first sip with fine tannins and a light acid underpinning faint flavours of beetroot, red cherry and blueberry. Medium-bodied finishing with a warm, earthy reminder of the fruit. Serve cold it’s a mild mannered sipper although having little of interest - a red to have with a salmon steak, breast of chicken seasoned with herbs de province. Nicely made. Perhaps cellaring a few years it will improve? Perhaps already on the decline?  79

MALIVOIRE CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #573147 $19.95 (Tasted December 1, 2009) CS

Described as “ Although more oak was used than in previous years, fruit dominates. Aromas and flavours abound, suggesting pear, baked apple crisp, maple, candied orange and nutmeg. Well balanced, this full-bodied wine explodes with flavours, making way for a long, crisp finish.” My notes: A thin film with fast forming tears makes this a medium-bodied chardonnay with a pleasing smoothness to the first sip. Serve chilled and allow to go off chill, ~14C for a delicate nose of stone fruit and baked apple. This has a light golden colour, very crisp in the bowl and flavours include baked apple, maple for sure, a roundness while any sweetness is nicely balanced with a soft acid that persists through a long finish. A distinct Escarpment chardonnay with a light French oak butterscotch supporting the fruit. Have with lightly flavoured fish dishes, crab, lobster or scallops as well as being a polite sipper. Should cellar for a few years.  90

MALIVOIRE CABERNET FRANC ICE WINE 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 10.0% S, #685602 $35.05 (Tasted December 11, 2009) CS

Described as “These grapes were hand harvested by friends of Malivoire at -12°C in the late evening hours of December 22nd, 2008 and pressed well into the next morning. Pressed in vertical basket presses delivering juice at 37.5 ° brix. This juice was then fermented cool in stainless steel.” My notes: There’s an amber glow and firm film with slow tears to an aromatic blend of caramel and taffy apple. The sweetness arrives with the first sip coating the palate with flavours of extra sweet apple, plum and slight liquorice. Lasting into a long finish with fruit ’til the end this makes a perfect pre-dinner appetizer by itself then after dinner for dessert altho’ I’d say ’a little bit goes a long way’ with this one. I suggest cellaring for several years to soften the sugars a touch letting more of the grape to shine.  91

MALIVOIRE GEWURZTRAMINER ICE WINE 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.0% S, #Winery $35.05 (Tasted December 14, 2009)

Described as “The great 2008 vintage provided an abundance of concentrated flavours and aromas to be extracted from the grapes once frozen. These grapes were hand harvested by friends of Malivoire at -12°C in the late evening hours of December 22nd, 2008 and pressed well into the next morning. Pressed in vertical basket presses delivering juice at 39 ° brix. This juice was then fermented cool in stainless steel.” My notes: A glistening old gold colour and aroma of sultanas and apricots, tingly on the nose. Flavours carry the aroma coating the palate with luscious, honeyed fruit, middling thick and refreshingly spiced. Serve chilled for easy sipping as an aperitif or as an after dinner/dessert relaxer. The finish is enduring and endearing. Sweet? Yes! But that’s to be expected of an icewine. 91

MALIVOIRE WHITE 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0% D, #141531 $14.95 (Retasted December 1, 2009) CS

My notes: A blend of 80% Chardonnay, 15% Riesling and 5% Gewurztraminer and tasted this past October so I thought I’d check the rating at the time(Ww92). Serve chilled, ~10 - 12C. A delicate aroma of vanilla and orange blossom greeting the senses makes this a crowd pleaser. A light golden, crystal and crisp in the glass with firm film and legs that develop slowly followed by a first sip having a round mouth feel, a tinge of sweetness, a tang of tart, stone fruit and lime flavours. The long, warm taste and smooth finish is also appealing - pluses all around. Cellaring for a year should be OK - drinking well now. 92

MALIVOIRE ‘ANNE’S RECIPE’ ROSEMARY WINE SYRUP, Beamsville, Ontario, 0.5% MS, #Winery $9.00 (355mL)

Produced for the Malivoire Wine Co. from ‘Fine wine, sugar, cider vinegar, herbs and spices’.

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