RKS Wine: Ontario’s Malivoire Winery

Ontario does extremely well with Cabernet Franc and recently I am coming to the same opinion for Gamay which appeared with great popularity 5 or so years ago but seemed to fade from the public view. 3 times more Cabernet Franc is grown in Ontario than Gamay and even the treacherous Baco Noir is produced in more quantities than Gamay. The expression one hears is that Pinot Noir is a heartbreak grape due to its thin skin and susceptibility to disease and rot. But Baco Noir in Ontario is often a rotten mess that only a few wineries can manage like Henry of Pelham.

So Malivoire is one of the first wineries I recall on the wine trail arriving from Toronto. I can’t recall this winery so very well as it has been years ago since I have been there. And Martin Malivoire is married to Moira Saganaki a client I ran into as a lawyer years ago in the financial services industry. Martin is a special effects guru for television and film.

In 2020 Malivoire produced some 27,000 cases. A small winery with a persistent presence at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Malivoire’s Farmstead 2019 Gamay is in our glass and is not “estate” grown but rather through grapes purchased from growers in the Niagara Peninsula.

The wine has a light ruby colour. On the nose raspberry, black cherry and blackberry all in a light milk chocolate framework. The tannins are light and the acids subtle. We can say as far as fruit on its palate it is light on its feet and easy going. Gentle bits of cherry, strawberry and raspberry with a short finish. Although the nose is wickedly delicious it simply can’t convert to this high level on the palate where we might hike up its ranking to a Beaujolais Cru if we were in France.

Comparable with French Beaujolais-Villages and highly drinkable on its own. Although the wine has a bit of a bite to it I would defer to a beef or lamb burger with lots of condiments and a slice of fresh Ontario field tomato. I also suggest pairing with light tomato pasta dishes. I’ll go the maxim and pair light wines with light food so although the Vintages description states you can match with grilled beef I don’t think this could stand such a blast of protein.

Make no mistake this is a well-made wine with no flaws or faults. Serve cool.

(Malivoire 2019 Farmstead Gamay, VQA Niagara Peninsula, The Malivoire Wine Company Limited, Beamsville, Ontario, $19.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 591313, 750 mL, 12%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 88/100)

Could I say that Malivoire’s Lady Bug Rosé is an iconic Ontario wine? Or is it simply because one walks into a Liquor Control Board of Ontario store and it seems eternally omnipresent? A more pressing question is what is its quality? I mean one can hardly call Fuzion Malbec iconic because it was once selling like hotcakes griddled up at the Calgary Stampede.

The herd immunity we are all hoping for in the COVID battle is far different from the herd mentality of purchasers at the LCBO.

So how is this Lady Bug Rosé? It is mid intensity pink in colour. On the nose strawberry, cherry, raspberry and pomegranate. And the aromas are strong and forceful. Could this be a power Rosé? On the palate the intensity of the nose translates right through. The strawberry has a nice strawberry sundae twist to it. The wine has a big mouthfeel to it. A tightly knit palate. The wine should not be served too cold or its flavours and aromas will be compromised.

While this is a good quaffing wine it has the structure to compliment a variety of dishes. I would pair it with smoked salmon pasta. Sautee garlic and onions throw in some chopped Ontario field tomatoes, basil, oregano, a cup of this wine, smoked salmon and 35% cream and serve over egg noodle fettucine. You’ll no doubt enjoy this Ontario iconic Rosé.

(Lady Bug 2020 Rosé, VQA Niagara Peninsula, The Malivoire Wine Company Limited, Beamsville, Ontario, $14.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 559088, 750 mL, 12%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 92/100)

Ontario produces a panoply of Chardonnays that compete with the best in the world thought by many to be in France! Malivoire produces a 2019 Estate Grown Chardonnay. It has a light gold colour. As for aromatics there is apple, pear, pineapple a just a tiny bit of banana. 55% of wine was fermented in neutral oak and the rest in stainless steel. It is smooth and initially a bit unassuming but give it a few seconds and it asserts more fullness and character. Some baked pear, guava and apple cake. Moderately long finish. What is unique about this wine is for lack of better words, is its power surge on the palate at the 5 second mark with some minerality making a brief appearance. And its acidity is well under control.

The wine is good for sipping and with pasta primavera, fish and chips or roast turkey says the LCBO Vintage’s description. I have no issue with those suggestions.

(Malivoire 2019 Estate Grown Chardonnay The Malivoire Wine Company Limited, Beamsville, Ontario, $19.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 573147, 750 mL, 12.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 90/100)

We conclude with a Vivant Rosé which has a gleamy light pink colour. Is its luminosity because it is a “bon vivant”? On the nose cherry, pomegranate, raspberry and cherry jam. Like a can-can dancer light on its feet palate wise. Its character takes a few seconds to form quite like the Lady Bug Rosé. Delayed flavour technology is a possible invention Malivoire is working on? In terms of intensity on the palate it is not there and with its name one expects something on the light and airy side. Perhaps some apricot, tangerine and cranberry. This certainly is a bon vivant that will accompany your good times. But most importantly not razored by acidity.

What foods would suit this wine? Personally the wine seems more interested in having fun than being matched with food. How about I make you work a bit and say as veggies are ramping up when Ontario eggplants are in full season try a Greek dish called Briam. Try this and smile https://www.mygreekdish.com/recipe/briam-recipe-greek-mixed-roasted-vegetables/

(Malivoire Vivant Rosé 2020, VQA Beamsville Bench, The Malivoire Wine Company Limited, Beamsville, Ontario, $19.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 498535, 750 mL, 12.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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