Ontario - Wandering the Wine Route: Malivoire

Oct 9, 2009

As autumn approaches step-by-red-leafed-step, this is the ideal time to get in the car on the weekend and wander the wine routes. The harvest is in full-swing for some wineries while others are waiting for a bit more sun to get their grapes just right (or ripe). The slow but glowing changes in the trees give the atmosphere a crisp-gold allure amidst the fading, dying greenery. Autumn, yes, is truly the twilight of all seasons.

Growing up in Niagara, I spent numerous hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Lazy afternoons drives along the Niagara Parkway, through the country, to visit family or go see a band at the Angel Inn. It was always about experiencing the fresh, colorful scenery that makes this backyard of mine so beautiful to absorb in fall.

Lately, though, I’ve been exploring Jordan and Beamsville.

On a day of mixed rain and sun, I drove along King St. to Malivoire. This winery sits on the rolling Beamsville Bench, which runs from the creek gully just west of Cherry Avenue in Lincoln to Park Road west of Beamsville. Whereas the majority of land in Niagara-on-the-Lake lies on a flat landscape, the wineries along the bench have some of the most visually stunning views of vineyards and Lake Ontario.

Malivoire is tucked up just off King St. on King St. E. The vineyards surround the winery in a sweep of slopes and the structures, Quonset huts, once designed for the U.S. Navy during the second world war, sit huddled on a hillside once considered too steep to grow vines.

The winery’s facilities are very modern and like Tawse on the Twenty Mile Bench, incorporate a gravity-flow system (actually they are the first to incorporate this innovative measure in Ontario). Martin Malivoire, a special-effects movie director and his partner, Moira Saganski bought two vineyards on the bench during the 1990’s. Winemaker Ann Sperling got the wines off to a great start. Assistant Shiraz Mottiar took over for the 2005 continuing in Ann’s impressive footsteps.

The winery owns two vineyards, Moira and Estate on the Beamsville Bench while leasing the land of the Eastman (also on the bench) and the Epp Vineyards on the nearby Twenty-Mile Bench.

The main varieties grown include: Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Chardonnay, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Marechal Foch, and Riesling.

Malivoire is dedicated to sustainability. The use of chemicals has become more of an issue for wineries as many wonder whether using quick solutions (i.e. pesticides that cause nutrient deterioration) is really worth the risk. While some 'irresponsible' wineries are more apt to abuse the land and leave it in a scorched-earth state, Malivoire has chosen to work with it. Cuttings and pomace are used for compost, herbal anti-mildew sprays replace chemical ones and grapes are picked by hand, reducing the emissions put out by harvesting machines.

The care taken to preserve the land shows up immediately in the wines. The Moira vineyard has been maintained under Organic certification since 2001.

I came alone on my first visit to this winery. (When I go wine-tasting solo, I try to exercise a bit more caution. One day, I had been to two previous wineries and even though I had spit most of the wines, I was beginning to feel that buzz wine invites to one’s psyche and soul when lunch has been overlooked. When I get this feeling of romantic gregariousness, I tend to take a kind of sensual, laissez-faire approach to tasting. )

I asked the employee behind the counter what she recommended, what she thinks is the best. She recommended the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir.

She wasn’t wrong.
Malivoire Main Five Series 2007 Chardonnay
53% barrel of the wine was fermented in oak sourced from Burgundy, the remaining 47% fermented in stainless steel.

I was incredibly impressed with this wine as it brought on a bounty of bright, green apples, toasty butterscotch and delicious dashes of nutmeg. This is a fun wine, outspoken, easy to drink. My eyebrows shot up; I smiled. I dubbed this Chardonnay Party Girl.

Malivoire 2007 Mottiar Chardonnay
From vines planted on the Mottiar Family Vineyard on the Beamsville Bench, this wine is a bit more sophisticated than the Party Girl. Before I found out the vineyard had been planted with Dijon clones, I guessed Burgundy. The acidity was present, also the citrus and the stone fruit but there was an enticing Werther’s Original candy element that made it so much more beautiful. 

I have to say, I felt a moment of nostalgia but also this sense of immediate pleasure and wonder. The wine possessed a soothing depth. If it was a woman, she’d be blonde, tanned, dressed in gold and she’d take me out to the symphony. Falling in love, I called this Chardonnay Opera Girl.

Moira 2006 Chardonnay
The last and most expensive of the Chardonnays I tried was sourced from the Moira Vineyards. I took a sniff. It wasn’t as pronounced as the other two. I cupped my hands around the bottom of the glass to warm it up. I took another sniff.

There… but still, just slight, just subtle.

I found this wine to be a bit shy, perhaps it needed more time to come out of its shell. Taking in the mellow vanilla, the light melon and banana notes, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit rejected as if the wine had given me the cold shoulder or simply didn’t want to talk. The wine reminded me of a beautiful woman lost in a good book. She is there in the room but doesn’t respond to your footsteps, doesn’t hear you call her name. You kiss her neck and she just waves you off. Get out of here, I’m reading.

Call me crazy, but that’s the impression I got. I dubbed her Bookish Girl.

I shared my impressions with Anna behind the counter. She found the personalities I had attributed to the wines quite amusing.

I didn’t want to go yet. I had to try to two of the reds before I left.

The Malivoire 2006 Pinot Noir is both lively and tempting. Just imagine a red cherry dipped in paprika and red pepper, then add a shaving of pepperoni and you get my meaning.Complex and complete.

The Old Vines Foch was my personal favourite. For this wine, take a bramble berry pie, smother it with mulberry juice and drip on a few lines of pineapple glaze. Heaven - absolutely, irrefutably heaven.

Malivoire makes other notable wines - a Gamay, a Guilty Men red blend, their famous Ladybug Rosé, which I’ll try – hopefully - on my next visit.

4260 King Street East
P.O. Box 475
Beamsville, Ontario Canada
L0R 1B0
Tel: 905-563-9253
Toll-free in North America: 1-866-644-2244
Fax: 905-563-9512
Regular Hours:
Monday to Friday 10:00am to 6:00pm. Weekends 11:00am to 6:00pm

Phillips, Rod, Ontario Wine Country. Whitecap Books, North Vancouver,
Wine Access 2009: Canadian Wine Annual


Post a Comment

About This Blog

My focus is mainly on wine culture, history and education. I love the stories behind wine - the people, places and the regional personalities of the wine-countries around the world.

  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP