08PinotGrisAs Ontarians or even Canadians, what are we championing? That we’ve got some truly ‘world class’ wines (world class, of course, being Canada-speak for ‘Can we join the club’?)? That we’ve finally got a real opportunity to put our grapes budget into local, rather than distant, economies? Or that our locally-generated hype machine is working at maximum efficiency? Probably all three. At least, that seems to be the case in the context of Malivoire.

The Beamsville winery getting as attention from its gravity pull method as from the taste in its bottles is a case study in the Canadian ‘world class’ phenomenon. There was the much hyped tasting release back in April. There was the Jamie Kennedy event this past weekend in Beamsville. And, for those of us not attending either, there is equal parts buzz at the right LCBO stores. But is Malivoire all it’s hyped up to be?

High scores on both Pinot Noirs, the ’06 and ’07. But both, quite frankly, are overpriced. $30+ is a risk for most middle-budget wine consumers to take on a Canadian red and, at the end of the bottle, I’m not so sure wouldn’t have been better spent on something from Oregon or Washington.

$32 for the 2007 Old Vines Foch definitely would be spent better elsewhere. As the label explains these 33-year old vines are “Well into their declining years….” I’d say – declined. There are definitely some jump outs with the first few sips, but a glass later it’s like drinking a bottle of red that has been open for a day or two.

The 2008 Pinot Gris? Sadly, a disappointment. More Grigio than Gris, there’s just no Alsace in your glass. Low juice concentration, very little peachiness and almost the level of acidity that had me take that Anne Boecklin back to the LCBO last week for a refund.

All is not lost, however: the 2008 Gewurztraminer is a surprising stunner with everything you’d expect from the grape, the 2006 Chardonnay isn’t super complex or anything but very fresh and juicy, and the Lady Bug Rosé continues to impress after a number of bottles.

Malivoire is certainly getting much-deserved local attention for its wines, and my uncle from Cali was impressed – maybe more for the gravity pull than the wines, though. Is this enough to believe the hype? Or are we just engaging in another round of Canadian cultural cartography?


md_111377_f1090496e7b0cceeebeaf95b97d8612eMy favourite summer grape, hands down, has to be Pinot Gris. For many wine drinkers, maybe neophytes more than others, it’s often mistaken as “sweet,” an off-base description that speaks more to the pear and apple powers in the mouth than the sugar that’s either natural occurring in a wine or the sugar that’s slipped in by unscrupulous blenders. I caught the Pinot Gris bug about 5 years ago when my boy, Stanley, returned from a photo shoot at Nike HQ in Portland and brought us back a bottle of Elk Cove. I think that was the name of it. I’m terrible at remembering wineries and vintages; I never caught the bug for caring too much for those facts – like I did with a Roots Radics discography – and I don’t care much for flexing my interaction competency or subcultural capital as an oenophile. I just enjoy the smelling, tasting and conjuring of what I enjoy. That’s why, every summer, I make sure to taste every Pinto Gris in my general price $15-$30 price range. And so far, the Andre Blanck 2007 has all the pear and apple, touch of smoke, near perfect acidity and life from cork to last sip that I love. At $20 it’s summer’s Pinot Gris #1. Number 2 to follow. Recommendations welcome. Pictures to shop by  welcome.