I have had a passionate love affair with Pinot Noir for some time now – I’m frequently seduced by its alluring aromas and flavours and silky caress – so I was excited to learn about The Pinot Affair wine tasting taking place at a few wineries in Niagara on the weekend of October 15-16. Unfortunately I was only able to get to about half of the wineries involved. They were all fun, flirty affairs until…my heart was stolen…by Malivoire Winery.
Malivoire Wine Company began in 1995 when Martin Malivoire and his partner, Moira Saganski, purchased a plot of land on what is now the Beamsville Bench sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula wine region in Ontario. That plot of land soon became the Moira Vineyard. A year later, they purchased more land just to the west, which is now the site of the winery.
Malivoire currently owns two vineyards, Moira and Estate, and farms two other vineyards under lease, Epp and Eastman. All vineyards are in the Beamsville Bench sub-appellation, with the exception of the Epp Vineyard which is on the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation. Malivoire also makes wine from the Mottiar Family Vineyard which was purchased by Malivoire’s own winemaker, Shiraz Mottiar, in 2003.
Malivoire only grows grape varieties that are suitable for the sand, clay, and limestone soils and the cool-climate conditions of the region. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Gamay, and Pinot Noir are their chosen grapes. Malivoire does not use pumps, but uses gravity to move the pre-bottled liquid from one place to another, reducing agitation and oxidation, minimizing the need for filtration, and in the end, enhancing flavour.
The Wine Tasting Event
The wine tasting was led by Shiraz (yes, that’s his real name) Mottiar himself. It was a real treat to be able to taste Pinot Noirs from the 2010 vintage that are still in barrel. We started with 2 Pinots from the Estate vineyard; one was fermented in stainless steel and the other was barrel fermented. The barrel was not toasted, so it’s just the fresh wood in contact with the wine. The first wine was very fruit-forward with bright acidity. Shiraz said that it will probably make up the foundation of the Alive label Pinot Noir. The barrel fermented wine had the same red fruit, but there was a bit more spice and earthiness, and a rounder mouthfeel. I felt this was a more complex wine. Shiraz commented that it had great structure, but that it may need some support from other wines during the blending process.
Next we tasted two wines from the Mottiar vineyard, also from 2010. As with the Estate Vineyard wines, one was stainless steel fermented and the other was barrel fermented. Again the stainless steel fermented wine was a more fruit-forward wine, but there were also some distinct mineral and floral notes. But it was the barrel fermented Mottiar vineyard Pinot Noir that really stole my heart. It was intense and aromatic with darker fruit, more spice, and a floral perfume. Supple, smooth and silky with a very long finish.
Shiraz then encouraged us to do a little blending of our own to see how two or three of these wines would work together. I mixed the two Mottiar Vineyards wines together creating one delicious blend indeed! I’m really looking forward to trying the finished wine in about a year; it’s sure to be a beauty.
We then tasted the 2009 Alive Pinot Noir, the 2009 Small Lot Pinot Noir, and the 2009 Mottiar Pinot Noir. Tasting notes for all wines are below.
Wine Tasting Notes
Estate Vineyard 2010: Stainless steel fermented. Still in tank. A brilliant ruby colour with ripe red berry aromas; strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry. Delicate but with bright acidity on the palate and a very fruity finish.
Estate Vineyard 2010: Barrel fermented. Still in barrel. The same red berry fruit as in the first wine, but more spicy, earthy notes and a touch of vanilla. The tannins are more noticeable, but there’s a rounder mouthfeel and more complex flavours. Good length.
Mottiar Vineyard 2010: Stainless steel fermented. Still in tank. A bright ruby colour with a purplish hue. Mineral and floral notes combined with lots of cranberry, raspberry, and red currant aromas. Subtle and delicate. Very pretty.
Mottiar Vineyard 2010: Barrel fermented. Still in barrel. Intense and aromatic with spicy cranberry, red plum, dark raspberry, black cherry, and a floral note reminiscent of rose petals. Fuller and rounder on the palate than the previous wines with a very long lingering finish.
Alive Pinot Noir 2009: 12% barrel fermented. A bright ruby colour with sour cherry, red currant, raspberry, mineral, and a touch of smoke. Bright acidity with a good length. Very approachable and ready to drink now. ($29.95)
Small Lot Pinot Noir 2009: 60% barrel fermented. Darker, spicier fruit than the Alive version, with mineral, earth and violet aromas. Ripe fruit and spice on the palate with a firm structure and a long length. A good wine to leave in the cellar for 3 – 5 years. It’s recommended that you decant for 1 hour if serving now. ($34.95)
Mottiar Pinot Noir 2009: 50% barrel fermented. Aromatic and elegant with aromas of plum, blackberry, earth, cinnamon spice, flower petals, and a minty note. Silky tannins and a long length. Cellar for 3 – 5 years. It should age and evolve nicely. Only 100 cases made so don’t delay in buying this wonderful wine. ($39.95)