Big love for Small Lot
Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2016
$19.95 Winery or Farmer's Markets
Anyone who knows me – or who’s been reading this blog for a while – knows I love Gamay. It hardly matters where it comes from, I love me some of that glou glou juice in my bouche.
It’s just the best grape: always satisfying, always fresh and lively, always flavourful and drinkable. It can be fancy and fit for a feast or it can be natural and chill(ed) and just gluggable. Whatever it is, Gamay is here for it.
And I am here for Gamay.
Luckily, it’s quickly showing its promise in Ontario. Sure, it’s not as flashy as Pinot Noir or as deep as Cabernet Franc (forget the bigger reds, they suffer in our climate), but it’s better. Gamay is pretty hardy, it loves what our cooler climate does for its acidity but has zero problem with the heat for its sweet sweet sugar ripening, flavour enhancing properties, and it just turns out consistently lovely wines that are only getting better each vintage.
There are more than a few wineries in Ontario making great Gamay, but none are more invested in the grape than Malivoire.
For years (over a decade at least) Malivoire has been producing delightful Gamays from various vineyard plots at different levels and price points. I wrote up their Alive Gamay last year, which is their entry level bottling and readily available at the LCBO. And that’s just the beginning: they also make a Small Lot, a Courtney, and something they call “Le Coeur”. And even their top bottling – the Courtney – is totally affordable, approachable, and affable (alliteration!).
But my favourite is the Small Lot. And my favourite vintage – up till now – was the 2012. It was a notoriously hot vintage that resulted in a beautifully nuanced, delicious wine that I still dream about. But I think the 2016 might be even better – it certainly satisfied the dragon I’ve been chasing.
It’s so rich and flavourful, but so bright and light on its feet. It’s got this gorgeous fruit and a flavourful profile that just hits every pleasure point in your mouth. It’s complex and structured, but oh man could you ever just chill and chug it in an afternoon. Seriously, I’m in love.
A few weeks ago, at the end of a bottle with one or two small sips left in my glass, I got up to say goodnight to our guests. I was looking forward to my final taste while tidying up, but when I returned to the table, I discovered that my husband had secretly drunk what I’d been so carefully saving.
And I almost cried.
I might’ve been a bit tipsy, I might be a bit of a drama queen. But my precious wine was gone and I wasn’t sure when I’d get to have it again. I made the mistake of not hoarding any 2012, but I’ve learned my lesson and now I’m stocking up on as much 2016 as possible.
Anytime I visit the winery, I grab a couple. Anytime I’m at a farmer’s market and see their friendly faces, I grab a few more. Because it’s that good. So get yourself a bottle or four. This Gamay is good to go now, but will take you through fall and winter and into next summer no problem.
Nose: Raspberry, cherry, pepper and baking spices. Earthy minerality and almost a subtle fennel-like aniseed quality. It’s really pretty, with a floral character to it.
Palate: So delicious. The acidity is super high so it’s really refreshing and tart, but the cherry flavour is super rich and delicious (it reminded me almost of a not-at-all-sweet version of Bonne Maman cherry jam at one point), just so lovely and round and mouth-filling. The baking spices show up again with that bright acidity it’s almost like a balsamic drizzled strawberry delight, with none of the sweetness and all of the pleasure. And the finish is hella long – like almost a minute long if not more. And each sip leaves you wanting more, building flavour in your mouth with cherry just repeating for days and days and days. So much yes.