The wines of Malivoire
Visiting wine country in Ontario, Canada, part 3


Martin Malivoire

I arrived at Martin Malivoire’s home, in the middle of the Beamsville Bench, by helicopter. That’s pretty cool. Martin was on board, but even though he’s a qualified helicopter pilot, he wasn’t flying: we’d just had a tour over the vineyards of Niagara during which he’d explained the geography and geology. 

Malivoire winery

Martin’s background is in film special effects, so during his career he saw a lot of change, culminating in the cgi-heavy blockbusters of today. He brought the current property in 1995 after he decided he’s like to turn his hand to growing wine grapes. At the time the region had 40 wineries, now it has 200. Gewürztraminer was already planted, and he added Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 1996. This property is what is now known as the Moira vineyard, named after Martin’s wife, and it’s where he’s built his home.

In 1997 he decided he’d actually like to make wine himself, so he built a barrel cellar and bought a second property down the road where he built Canada’s first gravity flow winery, in a recycled Quonset hut, which was finished in 1998.

Altogether, Malivoire draws on 60 hectares of vines from a number of different vineyard sites, processes 400 tons annually, and produces 25 000 cases. 

We had lunch and a tasting here, with Martin firing up his pizza oven. As well as Martin, I tasted with Shiraz Mottiar, winemaker (left, above), and Stephen Gash, general manager (right).

Vintage variation in Niagara is a fact of life, and something that winemakers here have to live with. ‘Each vintage is so different,’ says Shiraz. ‘The second you think you know everything you end up with a crazy vintage that slaps you.’


Malivoire Pinot Gris 2012 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Ripe and textured with lively appley fruit and some grapey notes, as well as a bit of spice. Some warmth and richness here. 89/100

Malivoire Pinot Noir Mottiar 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
This is from a vineyard owned by Shiraz Mottiar, winemaker, 40 metres above the bench and 70 metres above the plain, close to the escarpment, with clay/silt soils. The Pinot was planteed in 2005 using 6 clones. Supple, sweet and pure with fine cherry fruit and some minerality. Ripe but fresh with lovely balance and purity. 92/100

Malivoire Pinot Noir Mottiar 2009 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Sweet, pure, vivid black cherry and plum fruit. Nicely supple with some spice and mineral notes adding interest. Ripe but restrained, finishing spicy. 92/100

Malivoire Chardonnay Mottiar 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Mealy, appley and nutty with some textured pear fruit and a bit of spice. Warm, rounded and full with soft texture. Very rounded. 90/100

Malivoire Chardonnay Mottiar 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Nutty with nice depth of pear and spice fruit, with some apple pie notes and good depth. There’s still freshness, but it is quite a rounded wine. 91/100

Malivoire Chardonnay Moira 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Nutty, broad and ripe with some apple and honey notes. Creamy and textured, finishing with some spiciness. Supple and interesting. 90/100

Malivoire Chardonnay Moira 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Very ripe and sweet. Full, open pear and apple fruit with some honeyed characters, as well as a hint of apricot. A sweeter fruit profile here. 89/100

Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2012 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Lovely bright, pure, sappy cherry fruit here. Ripe and smooth with sweetness yet freshness. A lighter-style red but it shows complexity. 92/100

Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2011 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Canada
Fresh, supple, bright cherry fruit with lovely sappy notes. Very textured and fine with a hint of spice. Supple cherry fruit is the key signature, and it tastes quite natural. Light but quite profound. 93/100

Malivoire Courtney Gamay 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Mineral and tar notes with some grip, a bit of spice and some herbs, as well as subtle earthy notes. Quite savoury in style with real interest. 91/100

Malivoire Courtney Gamay 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Lovely cherries here: ripe and rich with a bit of spice. Warm and ripe with some minerality and a nice grainy texture. Great purity of fine cherry and berry fruit. 94/100

Malivoire Courtney Gamay 2010 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Lovely ripe, fine black cherry fruit. Sweet yet mineral with a nice grainy texture. Ripe and full yet so fine. 94/100

Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada
This is Malivoire’s largest production wine, at 6500 cases. A blend of Cabernet France and Pinot Noir with 10 g/litre residual sugar. Supple, smooth and ripe with a hint of greenness. Nice texture with some sweet fruit. Very appealing. 88/100

Malivoire Melon 2012 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Melon de Bourgogne, the grape of Muscadet, which Shiraz Mottiar says is one of those rare grapes where you can taste the flavour of the wine in the grape. Supple, a bit nutty, and bright, with minerals and lemons, as well as apples and pears. So distinctive. 89/100

Malivoire Gewürztraminer 2011 VQA Beamsville Bench, Canada
Ripe and varietally true. Textured and grapey with lovely melon and turkish delight notes. Real richness here. Dry but richly fruited, and quite delicious. 92/100

Malivoire Stouck Merlot 2012 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Canada
Fresh vivid black fruits here with good structure and nice pure, ripe fruit. Good definition with nice acidity. Ripe but fresh, and really focused. 90/100

Malivoire Stouck Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Canada
Supple, ripe and pure with ice smooth black fruits. Notes of chalk, gravel and minerals, too. Lovely sweet fruit, but also stylish and pure. 92/100

Malivoire Stouck Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2010 VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Canada
Lovely bold, concentrated blackcurrant fruit with some spice and tar notes. There’s some savoury blackcurrant bud character as well as nice texture. A lovely wine. 92/100


Pearl Morissette
Hidden Bench

Closson Chase
Huff Estates
Rosehall Run
Norman Hardie

Wines tasted 07/13  
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