Malivoire Alive Gamay 2014
I know you’re not supposed to play favourites. Of course I do. But let’s be honest: everyone’s got favourites. Favourite shirts, favourite foods, favourite children. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve got a favourite grape and it's called Gamay.
If you’ve ever met me, you already know that I love me a Gamay. Whether it’s a Beaujolais Cru or a sipper from Niagara, I’m more likely drinking a Gamay than not. If you’ve never met me, get ready: I am going to overload you with my love of this tasty grape . It was once banned in Burgundy, true, and it’s developed a rough reputation because of Beaujolais Nouveau’s popularity, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not capable of making some incredibly delicious wines. In fact, it’s been gathering traction with sommeliers who glug it by the magnum and secretly hope it doesn’t catch on so it stays affordable.
So what is Gamay? Well, it’s a red grape that’s sort of related to Pinot Noir (as it ages, it can even resemble Pinot Noir). It’s full of beautiful fruit flavours from plums to cherries to strawberries and the occasional flower all tied together by a characteristic black pepper note. Sometimes it smells like baking spices and summer jam, sometimes it’s leafy and full of restrained cherries. But it’s always tasty AF; it’s always high acid, light bodied, food-friendly, super drinkable, and relatively inexpensive. It’s the definition of glou glou (French for “glug glug”, the sound of wine gushing from a bottle straight down your thirsty throat. They also call it vin soif, naturally).
While Gamay’s homeland is Beaujolais, in the southern tip of Burgundy, it’s found a spiritual home here in Ontario, where winemakers are starting to take it seriously as a true contender for Niagara’s signature grape. It makes sense; it’s hardy and suited to our harsh environment, performing well in both hot and cool years.
Many wineries in Niagara produce stunning Gamay, but one winery has made Gamay its flagship grape. Malivoire, whose winemaker’s name is Shiraz Mottiar (isn’t that just too delicious?), is so committed to the #gogamaygo cause that they have 4 separate bottlings. And the best part? Their highest level rings in at just $26.
This particular bottle is their entry-level Gamay and it’s a Vintages Essential, so you will be able to find it at almost every LCBO. And it’s delicious. Gamays like this one are great at room temp, but they're even better after 20 minutes in the fridge. They’re perfect for summer days, when you just want to sit back, relax, and truly enjoy each moment.
Nose: Woah! At first it’s all funky earth, spices, and a little bit of roadside so it smells like getting out of the car for a visit at the winery at the height of summer. There’s even a touch of grapefruit in there. But with a little time cherries, strawberries, cinnamon, and a hint of mint take over.
Palate: Delicious and bright. Cherries and strawberries show up again and cushion the soft spiciness. It’s all plush and lush flavours, but the acidity is high so the entire experience is light and juicy. It is a bit warm, so I wonder if the alcohol is higher than stated (or maybe that’s just its spiciness strutting around, showing off?). Either way, it’s delicious. Distinctively Niagara, but distinctively Gamay as well. It’ll be hard to stop at just one glass (or bottle, let’s be real).