This month’s virtual journey takes us to Malivoire Wine Company located near Beamsville on the Niagara bench lands. The story of their founding resonates with me. Martin Malivoire did not plan a wine career, but it found him nonetheless. It’s the same for many of us in the wine world!
Malivoire’s initial vocation was special effects in cinema, where he was successful, working on films such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Resident Evil, and A Christmas Story. Subsequently, being a wine lover, he felt drawn to put down roots and purchased a vineyard in Niagara as his second career. He intended to grow grapes and learn a little about making wine. It turned out to be a slippery slope (in a good way)! He expanded his vineyard holdings in 1995 and established his winery where it sits now on King Street. His place to “learn a little about making wine” is now over 20 years old.
His quest was to produce quality wines that showed a sense of place. He initially made the wines at Malivoire with the assistance of well known winemaker Ann Sperling. Then in 2000, a new graduate by the name of Shiraz Mottiar started with them as cellar hand. Mottiar was promoted to assistant winemaker within a year, and by 2005 took over the duties of winemaker. He embodies the best winemaking traits, which are the focus on excellent fruit and minimal intervention to produce superior wines. These qualities resulted in his being named Niagara winemaker of the year in 2017.
Malivoire’s Gamays and Chardonnays are particularly good and keep in mind you can order more of their offerings on their website for home delivery. Later, when we can move around again, stop by and visit them. I know I will.
In addition to Malivoire’s wines, various LCBO offerings are reviewed as well. As usual, my ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent:
5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.
Malivoire Estate Grown Chardonnay 2018 ★★★★ $19.95 (Vintages)
This wine was aged in stainless steel and used (neutral) oak barrels for 6 months. It was subsequently blended to produce a white with just the right amount of spicy oak influence. The flavours of apple sauce, vanilla, lemon peel, and crème caramel will linger making it pair well with chicken garlic cream pasta or your roast chicken stuffed with citrus fruit.
Lakeview Cellars Serenity Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ★★★½+ $15.95 (LCBO)
Most of us are familiar with New Zealand versions of Sauvignon Blanc, but the grape in fact originates in the Bordeaux and Loire regions of France. This Niagara rendering is a zippy, fresh white with a fruity bouquet of lime pith, lemon, gooseberry, and mineral. The palate adds some tropical fruits to the mix. It would be best served with seafood, goat’s cheese, salads, or white meats.
Melini Orvieto Classico 2019 ★★★+ $11.95 (LCBO)
We’re all looking for good values in the wine world. This white from Umbria meets that benchmark. It’s a simple, refreshing white showcasing ripe honeydew melon, pear, lemon, grapefruit, and mineral. Good by itself before dinner, but it would be a nice accompaniment for Fettuccine Alfredo or seafood.
Malivoire Che Bello Sparkling NV ★★★½ $17.95 (LCBO)
This Niagara sparkler is made with a blend of Riesling, Seyval Blanc, and Vidal in the style of Italian Prosecco. This technique of making sparkling preserves the fruit and this has an abundance of yellow and green apple, lemon, and lime with a lightish body and a little residual sweetness in the finish. Pick some up for your Valentine and match it with charcuterie and cheese.
Malivoire Farmstead Gamay 2019 ★★★½+ $19.95 (Vintages)
Malivoire has become known for its Gamay and you can see why. They use some time honoured techniques from Beaujolais, like 20% is whole cluster fermented, to enhance the fruit notes. The wine showcases pure, juicy strawberry, raspberry, red cherry, along with earth, black and white pepper, and sage. With its lower tannins and a lighter body, it would enhance your smoked duck, tomato pasta, or sausage dishes.
Spinelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2019 ★★★+ $8.75 (LCBO)
This is a case in point of inflated wine ratings in the marketplace. This is a good under $10 red and a good value. It is not, however, worthy of the 91 points touted on the label. My numerical rating would put it at 86. That being said, it’s a simple, pleasant, dry wine with plum, black cherry, spice, and a little earthiness to enjoy with your weekday pasta and pizza.
The Wolftrap Syrah, Mouvedre, Viognier ★★★★ $13.95 (LCBO)
This South African red blend delivers superb value for under $15. It has Syrah that gives it character, Mourvèdre for depth, and Viognier that lifts the aromas. You’ll find plenty happening in your glass with intense dark plum compote, black and white pepper, smoked meat, clove, and vanilla. The smooth tannins and full body make it a good pairing for your mushroom risotto with copious amounts of parmesan or pretty much any beef dish, especially braised beef.
Chateau Le Cap 2018 ★★★★ $17.95 (Vintages)
You don’t often find Bordeaux and reasonably priced in the same sentence, but if you look in the Bordeaux hinterlands, like the Cote de Blaye, you can find some good, well priced wines. This blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is tannic and could do with a few years of cellar time to evolve. If you want to try it now, decant to soften it. Then you’ll enjoy the black cherry, spiced plum, cedar, clove, tobacco, leather, and smoke that are concealed in this young wine. Beef tenderloin topped with truffle mushroom topping will bring out its best.