Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2015

Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2015 

Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2015 

Medium dark ruby color. Fine but shy nose of flowers, cherries and earth. Way more expressive on the palate with an explosion of red fruits, ground cherries, dried flowers and a bold and present spiciness. Just long and concentrated enough, it stays fresh and refreshing due to its good acidity level. Again a bottle that went empty the minute it was open! Very good+ (90)

Made of Gamay.  71% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation and was aged in 75% French and 25% American oak barrels for 10 months. Alcohol level of 12,%5

Available in SAQ stores for 19,50$ (Code SAQ :  11140498) 

Malivoire’s website: 

Sample proposed by Le Maître de Chai:

Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2015

Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2015

Trail Estate Gamay Noir VQA Ontario 2014

Trail Estate Gamay Noir VQA Ontario 2014 

Trail Estate Gamay Noir VQA Ontario 2014 

Light but young garnet color. Nose of sweet red berries, earth and spices. Flavors of sour and slightly sweet red fruit like sour cherries, cranberries, rhubarb and spices. Felt different from other Gamay I had from Ontario, it was vibrant, a little on the charming side, but I gladly enjoyed it! Very good+ (90)

Made from Gamay of fruits coming from the County (65%) and Niagara (35%). Aged 8 months in neutral French oak barrels. Total production of 98 cases. Alcohol level of 13%

Has been sold at the winery for 26,00$

Trail Estate Winery’s website:

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir Beamsville Bench VQA 2012

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir Beamsville Bench VQA 2012

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir Beamsville Bench VQA 2012 

Medium dense garnet color. Nose of smoke, spices, oak, fresh and sun loaded red berries with earth notes. This is a deep and pretty nose. Palate goes forst on strawberry notes, then comes the spicy and smoky flavors, oak, then earth and crusehd rocks. You can feel the warmth of the climate, but also there is a good acidity level, all mastered in the winemaking. Again, I liked the depth, the complexity and the lenght of this wine. Great one! Excellent (91) 

Made of 100% pinot noir. Bottle closed by a DIAM cork. Aged 12 months in a mix of 25% new oak and older barrels, then 6 months in tanks prior to bottling. Alcohol level of 13,5%

This wine under the 2013 vintage is currently available at the SAQ for 35,25$ (Code SAQ : 12582984)

Hidden Bench’s website:

Hidden Bench is represented in Québec by Le Maître de Chai:

You can also find my post on a visit I did at the winery HERE

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir Beamsville Bench VQA 2012

Pearl Morissette

Pearl Morissette and their living wines

Pearl Morissette and their living wines

Rain, in January, this is so crazy! But it could be worse, cause I see something good coming. I had the privilege, on that grey day, to meet at the vineyard François Morissette. François is the man behing the wines of Pearl Morissette, pioneer in living wines making in Niagara.

Pearl Morissette - fûts alsacien

François uses many types of containers as these old cask from Alsace

I had many times Pearl Morissette wines in my glass. Following my passion, I want to meet the person behind the wine I’m having and I want to meet them. I know that after these meetings the wines taste sometimes even better as I understand them differently cause I can get the vision that led to them and why they were made that way.

I first saw François at the Raspipav event, a wine show on private import products in Montréal. I promised him that I would come by the winery and visit him. I was there, on his field of work and he’s making all these wine come true. I wanted Pearl Morissette living wines!

Visit of the winery, with the Winemaker

While drinking François words, his vision came to me; his desire to make good wine while not interfering with this ‘natural’ evolution. He uses many types of container to age his wines, but all in a way to let the soil, the vines and finally the wines to express themselves.

Understanding the climate, the soil, the vines then the resulting wines are not an easy task. Many experiences were made and makers were identified from vintage to vintage, then creativity could be expressed properly without endangering the results. Science does have its role here and that’s what creates those useful markers or requiered data to monitor the wines as they evolve to become the wines that we’ll drink. That’s why he can make wines that are clean while vibrant and alive while not shadowing the their true originality.

Pearl Morissette - Cuve de béton en forme d'oeuf

Pearl Morissette – Custom made egg shape concrete tank

One thing is clear for François is that any kind of intervention, even when you don’t, have effects on the final product. He don’t beleive then in the “let everything go natural wine” principle. The primary matter is transformed and shaped by these decisions and manipulations. That’s why understanding the results of any actions made on the wine, as minimalist they are, is critical as it can overcome his vision on how he want his wines to be… That’s exactly why he doesn’t like the “natural” wine thing as it doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t offer the warranty that the fruit itself will be good prior to the winemaking process.

His experience acquiered while working at the best wineries of Burgundy is then useful. This allows him to master the classical grape varieties with which he’s working while still being creative.

Under the charm of the place, the man and the wines!

To face the rising demand for his wines, the risk coming from the weather and the various conditions of each vintage, he buys grapes from other producers of the area. He makes sure to get fruits that are farmed with the same vision as his, on how they’re growned and how the vines are taken care of.

While touring the place and talking, we did taste many wines, all from the 2015 and 2016 vintages that are still under ageing process. We had both wines from his vineyards and from bought fruits. Sample were took of stainless tanks, egg shaped and regular concrete tanks, then from barrels of different ages and even from old Alsacian casks of 50 years+ !

Pearl Morissette - vin orange

Their orange wine!

We had Rieslings made dry so vibrant, refreshing and so deep (especially the Cuvée Black Ball – see the story between him and the VQA system behind this wine). Then very fine Pinot Noir and even a “en primeur” fruit foward one made to drink young and on its primary fruit profile. Impressive Chardonnays with amazing texture, having the core to support oak ageing, Cabernet Franc so tasty and Gamay wines that have everythin to please the writer of these lines. Not to forget or let behind is their orange wine made of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling that spent 3 months on the skin. To end that tasting, a “Solera” type of wine from a cask that see it filled with remaining juice François have or from what’s left in barrels after bottleing. This wine, made from all type of grapes is blended with juice going back to the 2008 vintage, is so complex and stunning. This one is François’s study coming from his appreciation of Xeres wine. We can only hope that it’ll be bottled one day…

I was so pleased with this visit and tasting.

Can’t wait to be back there to meet again that epressive, creative and such a nice man. It would also be a great opportunity to visit all the installation as they have all kind of animal on their farm and this place is just so beautiful that just looking at it will make the next visit worthy.

I also can’t wait to talk about his other project, a vineyard he’s working on in Calfornia in the Sonoma valley! But this is another story / blog post. If you’re interested of learning more on these new wines, you can still order them through the Courrier Vinicole from the SAQ

Pearl Morissette’s website :

They are represented in Québec by La QV :

Now, what are we drinking?

Pearl Morissette

Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula 2014

Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula 2014

Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula 2014

Medium dark ruby color with purple hue. True to Norman Hardie’s Cab Franc nose with its blend of berries, a hint of bell peppers, spices and earth notes in a very fresh way. Similar on the palate with a great acidity level (even if lower than its County equivalent), this wine drinks so easily, being so good and comforting. Nothing to help my craving of their wines or to help me wai till we visit again the winery! Very good+ (90)

Made of Cabernet Franc. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels. Alcohol level of 12,5%

Available at the winery or at the LCBO for around 29,00$

Norman Hardie Winery’s website:

Norman Hardie’s wine are represented in Québec by Les Vins Dame Jeanne:

Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula 2014

Tawse Chardonnay Niagara Peninsula VQA 2012

Tawse Chardonnay Niagara Peninsula VQA 2012

Tawse Chardonnay Niagara Peninsula VQA 2012

Couleur doré léger. Arômes de pommes, de poires, il y a un peu de notes d’agrume ainsi qu’un côté salin et floral. Assez vif en bouche avec beaucoup de fraîcheur, du fruit tel que perçu au nez et le vin se termine sur une finale minéral. Très bien (89)

Composé de Chardonnay. Fermenté et élevé en barriques de chêne français. Fait 13% d’alcool

Disponible à la SAQ pour 23,50$ (Code SAQ : 11039736)

Le site internet de Tawse Winery:

Échantillon proposé par La Société de vins fins:


Norman Hardie Pinot Noir Niagara Peninsula 2010

Norman Hardie Pinot Noir Niagara Peninsula 2010

Medium dark garnet color. Nose of cherries, cooked berries, spices and oak. On the palate the wine is tender but not sweet with its candied cherries, small red fruit jam, spices, earth and oak notes. More modern than what I’m used to from that producer, but that vintage was so hot and it does show in the wine, and that’s no reason not to like it! Good+ (88)

Made of Pinot Noir from Niagara’s Bench Wismer vineyard. Aged 16 months in oak barrels. ALcohol level of 12,8%

Not availeble anymore, but was sold by the SAQ

Norman Hardie’s website:

Norman Hardie’s wimes are represented in Québec by Vin Dame Jeanne:

Norman Hardie Pinot Noir Niagara Peninsula 2010

Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2014

Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2014

Malivoire Gamay Niagara Peninsula 2014

Medium ruby color. Shy nose of fruit, flowers and spices notes. On the though, the wine offers juicy crushed red fruits, sweet spices, aromatic herbswet earth and good acidityFresh and floral, different from what is made in Beaujolais, but still pretty tasty. Ends in a long and slightly warm finish. Very good (89) 

Made of Gamay. Mostly aged in tanks, but 30% of the wine saw oak for 6 months (89% French and 11% American). Alcohol level of 12%

Available at the SAQ for 20,90$ (Code SAQ : 11140498)

Malivoire’s website:

Le Maitre de Chai is the agency that represents Malivoire in Québec:

Closson Chase The Brock Chardonnay Niagara River VQA 2014

Closson Chase The Brock Chardonnay Niagara River VQA 2014

Closson Chase The Brock Chardonnay Niagara River VQA 2014

Bright gold color with green hue. Mineral nose with pineapple and mapple water, then pear, apples and spices. The oak does show, but with some air did blended nicely with the fruit. Flavorful and deep, this feels so young! Flavors are accurate to what was on the nose with a narrow but long finish. Different from the International and typical Chardonnay, but true to what I’ve tasted yet coming from Ontario. A good product offered here and very well priced and won’t be afraid of being cellared for a few years. Very good (89)9)

Made of 100% Chardonnay from rented vines in Niagara. Got no information about its ageing, but have seen oak. Alcohol level of 13,5%

Available in SAQ stores for 23,10$ (Code SAQ : 12855516)

Closson Chase’s website:

They are represented in Québec by Sélection Caviste:

Hidden Bench

Visit at Hidden Bench

Visit at Hidden Bench

Back from a “day job” assignment in Niagara region and having some free time ahead. Why not stop and visit a winery since I couldn’t be in a better place for that, especially at that moment, a beautiful and sunny day! With the goal of trying a new place, I reached a friend who knows his way around and he comes back to me with this suggestion: Hidden Bench.

Located in the Lincoln / Beamsville area, the place is charming, pretty and surrounded with peach tree. With Pinot Noir vines all around, the stone and wood building of the winery are also giving that welcoming and warm feeling.

Hidden Bench

And it does not stop there, despice the work that is going on there (it will be even prettier this summer or shoud be by now, since the welcome also came from the people there. It followed with a discussion with Mike for what type of tasting I was aiming at (I described him my wine tastes and he selected perfect matching wines!), and then I had to work!

Having about 100 acres of lad, close to 84 have vines on it. The first ones were planted in 1977 which is pretty soon for this young wine region. They have many grapes varieties as the classic Pinot Noir (about half the production here) and Chardonnay, Riesling often good coming from the area and even Bordeau type vines inluding Malbec of which they are the largest producer of Ontario.

Hidden Bench Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir vines

And now, what about the wines? Here is my notes on what I have tasted there:

Hidden Bench Riesling Roman's Block Beamsville Bench 2013

Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery Roman’s Block Riesling Beamsville Bench VQA 2013 

When I said what type of Riesling I like, Mike proposed me this one, made of the older vines of the house. Nose and palate of green apples, lime, good minerality and somehow rich, but balanced with a tangy acidity and slightly bitter which makes me like the wine even more. And the finish is so long!

Lorsque j’ai décrit ce que j’aime d’un Riesling, Mike m’a proposé ce vin, tiré de vignes parmi les plus vieilles du domaine. Arômes et saveurs de pommes vertes, de lime, bWhenien minéral avec une certaine richesse, mais c’est surtout cette acidité légèrement amère, surette que j’aime tant qui me fait apprécier ce vin. Et que dire de la longue finale!

Does have 10g of residual sugar and an alcohol level of 11%. It’s a beautiful crafted wine, so tasty. Sold only at the Winery.

Hidden Bench Chardonnay Estate Beamsville Bench 2013

Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay “Estate” Beamsville Bench VQA 2013 

Typical cool climate Chardonnay feel with a well balance oak and pear, butter notes, quite complex, especially on the palate without being heavy or overly deep.

Aged 10 months in oak barrels and an alcohol level of 13%

Available at the SAQ for 31,25$ (Code SAQ : 12583047)

Hidden Bench Pinot Noir Estate Beamsville Bench 2013

Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir “Estate” Non Filtré / Unfiltered Beamsville Bench VQA 2013 

This smelled so good! Perfumed, fresh, pure, loaded of small red berry notes on the nose, then a fruit explosion on the palate and mineral layers. Then the spices kicks in as long with wild berries and a light bitterness on the finish that gives even more satisfaction with this wine.

Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 20% being new. Alcohol level of 12,7%

Available at the SAQ for 35,25$ (Code SAQ : 12582984)

Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Beamsville Bench 2013

Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery Terroir Caché Beamsville Bench VQA 2012 

And then came this Bordeau blend type wine. Deep color with smoke and spices coming from the Merlot grape as it is for a good proportion in the blend. Aromas and flavors of black berries, coffee, noble greens (when it is balanced like that, I find that it adds to the wine instead of ruining it…). Mouth coating with a very long finish. Might feel of seems too wide of overwhelming, but it’s so young! This should age even if is approchable with some air.

Made of Merlot (46%), Cabernet Franc (25%), Cabernet-Sauvignon (16%) and Malbec (13%). Aed 21 months in aok barrels. Alcohol level of 13,9%

The 2011 vintage is available at the SAQ for 39,50$ (Code SAQ : 12306411)

Did I liked it? Of course! Don’t be surprise as I will post more notes on wines from Hidden Bench in the following months. I even hope that I’ll have the opportunity to go back visit the winery in a futur trip in Niagara. Do the same!

Thanks again to Sean for the suggestion and Mike for the tasting, his precise choices regarding my tastes and the time he took explaining me how things are at Hidden Bench.

One more flower for the type of glasses they use, Spiegelau Pure series, even for the water glass and that each tasting station have its own spittoon. It makes the experience even better with this additions.

Hidden Bench website:

Maitre de Chai is the agency representing Hidden Bench in Québec:

Hidden Bench