No extras needed: A visit to Pearl Morissette Winery

In a world of manipulation, additives, and strict ridiculous guidelines it was a breath of fresh air when I stumbled across a bottle of 2010 Pearl Morissette Black Ball Riesling while out for “lunch” (i.e a bottle of wine between four wound up post exam WSET students). I was informed about it’s lack of recognition through the VQA as a white wine. Mainly because the VQA or Vintners Quality Alliance is a ridiculously outdated system that I’ve yet to truly understand but apparently it was because of it’s lack of filtration (here is a link of Francois Morissette explaining the VQA This Riesling was cloudy but deliciously so, lime juice, minerals, all perfectly balanced. This was a winery I just had to visit. Off the beaten Niagara path this winery is by appointment only. With the short notice I provided I felt very lucky to have been squeezed in for a tasting.

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A plank of wood between two barrels in the middle of it all, not a bad setup.

I was greeted by the lovely Svetlana. Her passion for the winemaking philosophy really stood out. My understanding is Francois Morissette sees the wine for what it is, not what you can add to make it into something mass market. The result is pain staking timely processes that involves racking and return, tricky wild yeast, and lees stirring. We started the tasting with a few Chardonnay’s 2011 Chardonnay Almond, citrus, spice, fresh, medium minus body, citrus, cream, buttery. Integrated alcohol and acid. 2009 Chardonnay that been open for a few days. Where this would be suicide for most wines, these wines are not even pumped at the end of the day to remove oxygen. It is just seen as another natural additive that aids the character of the wine. Over ripe lemon, nutty, little oxidative but still really present acidity. Coming from a cooler vintage.

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Concrete Eggs in the winery

2013 Cuvée LPR Rosé This was a point of difference. Cabernet Franc and a bit of Chardonnay/Gamay (5% of each). Every step in this Rosé’s life is done aux natural. From the heating to start the indigenous yeast already present in the wine to the clarification by cold settling. Bottled un fined or unfiltered and without the use of Sulphur Dioxide. The nose was elegant with a herbaceousness and red berries. The palate was a surprising watermelon jolly ranchers. The tart acidity balanced out the sweetness in the front palate leaving you with a decent finish for a Rose that was yet another surprise… nuts. This wackadoodle Rose would be a delight to pair with food and I was informed that the latest release is all allocated out. No surprise there. Needless to say I walked away with a bottle and am looking forward to seeing the look on peoples faces when they try it. Next came a fun 2012 Pinot Noir which comes from their newly planted (3yr old vines) vineyard. This wine was not bottled yet but you could see the potential even with such young vines. The nose was very promising with woodsy smoke, sweet berries, and a slight flinty note. The palate was as expected from young vines a simple but pleasant smokey maple, sweet berries and oak influence. The tannins were very Pinot Noir-esque and soft. 2011 Cabernet Franc When I discuss Pearl Morisette with wine circles the Cabernet Franc is what people tend to use as a point of reference. Tasting note: You are greeted with juicy black berries on the nose and which continue on the palate. The tannins were quite present and little dusty for my liking but with the flavour combinations and acidity/tanning balance I could see this wine being a great food wine. We finished where I had started with a Riesling 2013 Riesling Cuvee BlackBall  Fermented dry and undergoing a second malolactic fermentation this wasn’t the 2010 I tasted early on. This is how you can tell they really listen to the grapes and the wines to see what the wine should become, not what the winery or population demands. This wine wasn’t in bottle yet. Tasting note: A really floral zesty nose with a touch of creaminess from the malo, I suspect. Everything is well integrated from the alcohol, to the acid, to the interesting flavour combinations. Your palate is really on a journey from mouthwatering acidity similar to green apples, lime zest, which moves into a flinty-stony note, and finishes off with a creaminess not normally experienced in Riesling.  2013 Kocis Riesling Not having been grown onsite had no effect on this wines quality. This wine was also not bottled yet. The same citrus, lime juice, tart acidity that I experienced with the Black Pearl Riesling but with a nutty finish. Yes a nutty finish, it was strange but welcomed. I find that the more I’m studying the more I’m looking for wines that have a point of difference. Something that sets it apart but doesn’t affect the flavour characteristics. This is exactly how i’d describe Pearl Morissette. In the New World of wine where convenience usually overpowers traditional more natural winemaking practices, it was great to spend a few hours tasting wine made from grapes… and not much else. Side note: Unfortunately Pearl Morissette is only available at restaurants in the surrounding Toronto/Ottawa. I strongly recommend to see if there’s any locally and try them out. Wake up your taste buds!


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