Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Wine of the Week: Pearl Morissette 2013 Riesling Cuvée Redfoot

“Watch out for him”, they warned. “ He can be a bit…fierce.”  He being winemaker François Morissette of Pearl Morissette winery in Jordan, Ontario.  Well, I can be fierce too and not even the big black barn that first greets guests scared me off as I walked toward the winery, dragging my son Jake behind me. 

François flashed a cool smile, a warm handshake, and the usual introductions were made.  Politely, he mentioned that tasting rooms loaded with equipment may not be the safest place for toddlers. I got this covered François,  I said to myself.  I was fortunate enough to have my friends join me that day and they agreed to watch him, as I gave Jake a special assignment to go investigate the vines that were close by.  

Pearl Morissette have revamped their website and have a brand new tasting room, but back in August, we were right in the midst of it: a lab, crates of bottles, tanks, barrels -  equipment everywhere.  In the middle of the winery was a simple wooden board held up by barrels on either end, on top of which bottles of wine without labels ready for us to taste.  Raw.  I loved it.

François Morissette was once a sommelier in Montreal, but the vines from Burgundy called out his name, so off he went to make wine there for eight vintages.  He brought back with him a plethora of knowledge, experience and ambition to make his own wines here in Canada.  Fast forward to 2015, he is now head winemaker at Pearl Morissette, showcasing some interesting,  beautifully made, “debatable" wines coming from the Niagara region, and stirring up some trouble while he is at it. This guy is driven, he is sensible, and yes, he is fierce.  He does not believe in labelling his wines as organic, minimal intervention, biodynamic or whatever. There are no set of rules or guidelines he follows to make his wines.  He feels as though he is more of a guide as he listens, and let the grapes tell him what to do.

I guess François had felt his riesling wanted a bit of MLF love, so his 2010 Black Ball Riesling underwent malolactic fermentation (as do all their rieslings) which is usually a big NO NO with such a delicate aromatic grape variety.  He didn't care about that.  “ I felt that it needed it”, was his response when I questioned it.  This started a bit of controversy with the VQA - as they would not give him the VQA stamp of approval to his riesling for it being ‘atypical’ and not showing varietal characteristics according to their standards.  The 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 all failed by the VQA tasting panel, not lab.  This has numerous consequences which I will not get into now, but it is important to note that not being VQA stamped means shit all when it comes down to whether or not a wine is good. And let me tell you something -  the wine is better than good. It’s fabulous.  

Having lost their contract last year for their chardonnay, riesling, viognier and gamay varieties, it makes me wonder just how much Morissette was stirring things up in Niagara.  “Not everyone likes how we do things around here”, he says. “ And I'm perfectly okay with this.” I admire that.  Taking risks is only way to succeed and there is no doubt, although the wines are already stellar in my modest point of view, big things are in store for Pearl Morissette, whether people like it or not.  

My wine of the week is the 2013 Cuvée Redfoot Riesling. 

This has underwent MLF using natural yeasts , 64% foudre, and 36% neutral oak barrels.  There was no cold stabilization and it was left on lees for a duration of 9 months.

Medium gold in color, with legs that swirl all sorts of pretty on the glass.

The nose is rich and inviting. Dripping with honey scented peach and nectarine accented by hints of white flowers, toasted spice and orange marmalade.  The palate displays appealing concentration of stone fruit, biscuit nuances, and a delicious salinity that is smooth, rich in texture yet very crisp and refreshing.  A fine, juicy finish.  

Wine: 2013 Redfoot Cuvée Riesling
Producer: Pearl Morissette
Grape: Riesling
Alcohol: 11.2%
Price: $26.40
Agent: Insolite Importation

This wine is not available at the SAQ.  The 2013 Cuvée Redfoot is sold out at the winery; however, you can contact their offices for release dates of the latest vintages.  

Alternatively, you can inquire at Insolite Importation, who represents Pearl Morissette in the Montreal area.

Photos: Lightstreak Photo

Jake evaluating Brix levels at Pearl Morissette.....

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