We think that Francois Morissette makes natural wines but he will tell you that they are neoclassical. For him the wines are digestible and edible and nothing more. Francois cut his teeth in Burgundy learning from people like Frederic Mugnier, Christian Gouge and Jean Marc Roulot. He finished his studies at the University of Dijon to study enology.
Sustaining the natural environment around them is a crucial part of the business at Pearl Morissette. They are primarily organic and the guiding principle at the winery is “leave the least amount of footprint possible”. To that extent they eschew any dogmas - regardless of whether they come from the conventional or organic/biodynamic movements. They try to keep an open mind, research their options and have an intelligent response to their environment as they continue learning about it more and more each year. They use oils, preparations and compost teas out of the Biodynamics playbook because they work not because they subscribe to the philosophies of Rudolph Steiner. They avoid the use of herbicide and insecticide because they want bees to live in their vineyards. For Francois and the team remaining open minded about the world around them is key. Finding balance in the vineyard, the winery and in life is his focus.
Their Home Vineyard was planted from 2009 to 2012 on Jordan Road where the winery is and sits on sandy loam with a very high gravel content. Some of their vineyards also rest on dolomitic limestone. Currently most of the fruit they use in any vintage is from their 19th Street Vineyard, a 16.5-acre plot within the Twenty Mile Bench VQA which they own and farm themselves. It is mostly heavy clay loam with silt and was planted in 1999.
Harvests are always based on phenolics - skin ripeness by taste. Their picking window is very short, usually about half a day per parcel. Grapes are picked in small 15kg totes by hand. They bring the fruit inside to cool it down and don’t process it until everything is picked and organized. Sorting is done on two double slotted sorting tables very slowly. Whites are all pressed whole bunch. Reds are fermented whole bunch. By the time the grapes are in vat, the juice is at 5-9 degrees. They let it warm up on indigenous yeast and during this process don’t protect the pressed juice or grapes from oxygen (no S02). All wines are fermented fully on indigenous yeast.
New oak use is miniscule and stainless steel is usually used only for transferring must and for sedimentation - Francois says it is too clinical for their wines. Of all the cuvees made at Pearl Morissette since the startvery few have seen new oak and they ferment almost exclusively in old oak barrels, demi-muids, puncheons and foudres - as well as in concrete and in clay.
Wines go through primary fermentation and MFL before adding any SO2. It is always added as late as possible in their winemaking. 95% of the time SO2 is added only before bottling. Free SO2 in the wines is always below 40ppm and SO2 is the only stabilizer used at Pearl Morissette. Almost all the wines are bottled without fining and filtering.
2014 Riesling Blackball
Coming from their 19th Street Vineyard, whole bunch pressed, fermented and aged in 100% concrete. Powerful fruit and intense aromatics. A truly unique expression of Niagara Terroir with balanced oxidation and freshness. Drink now or cellar for 10+ years.
2012 Chardonnay D’une Nuit
Although a different style than their other wines, this wine offers a chance to taste the Pearl Morissette wines at great value. This wine has some powerful aromatics, with intense fruit and a opulent sweetness from natural reduction and extended lees aging. Whole bunch pressed. A big and rich wine with remarkable freshness. Drink now or Cellar for 5+ years.
2013 Cuvee Metis Blanc
A blend of young estate fruit planted in 2011 at high density and purchased fruit from their Redfoot vineyard. Whole bunch pressed and fermented in concrete and old oak. The name comes from Francois’s 400 years of family history in Quebec. Another powerful wine from the Pearl Morissette team. Incredible balance and a wealth of orchard fruit and spice with soft, well-integrated oak rounding out.
2013 Chardonnay Dix Neuvieme
100% estate fruit. Whole bunch pressed and fermented in a combination of new French oak barriques (10%) and old, large format oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered after resting on its’ lees for just over a year. A wine that is an incredible pleasure now but with a long life ahead. Drink now or cellar for 10+ years.
2014 Cuvee Metis Rouge
A blend of 3 different Cabernet Francs. Some from 3 year old estate fruit at high density planted on gravel and the remainder purchased from Redfoot vineyard and Bakery Vineyard. Three week 100% whole bunch fermented with an additional 10 days of post fermentation maceration and pressed into large old oak for aging. A wine that walks the line between power and finesse. Delicate aromatics, rich and full. Delicious. Drink now or cellar for 10+ years.
2012 Cuvee Madeline Cab Franc
100% estate fruit. Fermentation (40% whole-cluster) took place in oak vats and concrete. Élevage was done in neutral oak barrels, demi-muids and in concrete vat. The wine aged on its lees for a total of 18 months. Their most structured and age worthy wine to date from a near perfect vintage for Cabernet Franc. While Austere in it’s youth, this wine has a long life ahead of it. Drink now or cellar for 30+ years.