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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 164 (November 26, 2007)

Monday, November 19: Received a review copy of Billy Munnelly's Billy's Best Bottles – Wines for 2008. Billy recommends wines "by moods and situations." This year he's added a section on Touring Wineries in Niagara and prince Edward County. At the end he writes, "Please destroy this book at the end of 2008 and get a new edition. It will do us both good." That's Billy. For dinner Tilapia with Peninsula Ridge Viognier Reserve 2006. A very rich (honeyed peach flavour) wine with a touch of oak.

Tuesday, November 20: Wrote a piece about signature wines for a new magazine called Thoroughbred Style. Rogers came to put in a digital box that will give us two million channels. Pinot the Wonder Dog was intrigued. Took Deborah to dinner at Le Select Bistro with Jeff and Sandy Lyons. Brought along a bottle of Niagara College Dean's List Chardonnay 2006. Jeff brought a bottle of Antinori Guado Al Tasso 1995. I ordered the marrow bone and steak frites.

Wednesday, November 21: It rained much of the day today and the forecast is for snow tomorrow. A meeting with Forefront Communications to discuss the Ontario Wine Awards for 2008. Looking for a major sponsor. In the evening I am MC for a fund-raiser for Serve – engaging youth for change. The event is held at Rosehill. There is a wine tasting, a silent auction and a live auction. Lindt Chocolate is there sampling its different chocolates with Jackson-Triggs Meritage 2006 and Vidal Icewine. The wines for the tasting were all California reds:

  • Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Napa Red
  • Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 Napa
  • Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
  • Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
  • Niebaum Coppola Rubicon 1994 Napa Red
  • Dominus Estate Proprietary Red 1994

The wine of the night was the Ridge, though I also liked the Caymus very much. The presence of Steven Paige and Tyler Stewart of the Barenaked Ladies enlivened the evening. After the auction, conducted with great aplomb by Steve Ranger of Ritchie's, we all tasted Maculan Breganze Fratta 1998 as a salute to next year's event, which will feature Italian wines.

Thursday, November 22: The snow came in form of freezing rain. The launch of the 2005 vintage of Le Clos Jordanne at the Intercontinental Hotel. Winemaker Thomas Bachelder introduced us to his new assistant winemaker, Sebastien Jacquey, who takes over from Isabel Meunier, who went to Oregon to make wine. This is the third vintage of Le Clos Jordanne and Jean-Charles Boisset was on hand to help promote the wines. Really, they don't need any promotion because they are simply the best Pinot Noirs being made in Canada, if not anywhere outside of Burgundy. The initial release to Vintages last year of 1800 cases of six was sold out the first day. These Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are definitely terroir-driven. As Bachelder said, "Terroir winemaking is the only thing people cannot take away from you."

In 2005, like the rest of the industry, Le Clos Jordanne lost 50% of its crop owing to winter kill. But a blazing long summer has produced some wonderfully ripe wines. In Burgundian fashion, Bachelder chose to taste the flight of reds before the whites.

  • Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir Village Reserve 2005: medium ruby in colour; floral, cherry and mineral nose; very elegant and firm; medium-bodied though it's 13.5% alcohol, with lively acidity and good length. Nicely extracted fruit, charming and great value at $25. ****
  • La Petite Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005: medium ruby; sturdy, black raspberry and mineral nose; ripe fruit with apparent oak; firm structure with a chalky finish and evident tannins.
  • Claystone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005: deeper colour than La Petite Vineyard; gamey nose with nuances of violets; velvety mouth feel with a sweet black raspberry flavour and a touch of spice; firm tannic finish. ****
  • Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005: medium ruby colour; a nose of dried flowers, minerals and raspberry; richly extracted, velvety mouth feel, firm but elegant with a long cranberry and pomegranate finish. A lovely wine to drink now or hold for 2–3 years. *****
  • Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2005: deeply coloured, not as expressive on the nose as the other Pinots but rich and the most Burgundian in style; minerals and pencil lead notes within the sweet fruit; evident tannins. A wine to hold for a couple of years. ****½ (***** with age)
  • Chardonnay Village Reserve 2005: bright straw colour; spicy, apple and vanilla nose; full-bodied, spicy and richly extracted, mouth-filling dry pineapple flavour with a toasty finish; subtle use of oak. ****
  • Claystone Vineyard Chardonnay 2005: deeply coloured but muted on the nose – white flowers, mineral notes; mouth-filling, full-bodied and intense tangerine and apple flavours with lively acidity. ****½
  • Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay 2005: again, a little shy on the nose at the moment but exhibiting intriguing citrus and mineral notes; much more defined on the palate with apple and lemon, sweet oak flavours; full-bodied but elegant and beautifully balanced. *****
  • Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2005: deep straw colour; spicy, minerally nose with white flower accents but a little tight; a revelation of the palate with Corton-Charlemagne like flavours, rich and intense, well balanced with evident vanilla oak. Needs a year or so in bottle. ****½

My effusive sommelier friend Zoltan Szabo, who was also at this tasting, sent me his notes on the wines, which are worth publishing here:

If among Niagara winemakers the quintessential "Who's your daddy" question would pop up... well, in my humble view, they should all unanimously agree and their answer should indeed be:

"Thomas Bachelder"!

With his "The magic happens in the vineyard" mentality, I think that this fellow is God's gift to the region!

This guy is incredible! A visionary! A thinker... philosopher! A poet!

God bless him! And all of us!

Happy Holidays!

2005 Pinot Noir, Village Reserve, Le Clos Jordanne Made from (most) grapes coming from the Talon Vineyard. Brilliant, light violet purple colour. Aromas of red berries, blueberry, floral, exotic spice with underlying earth and musk tones. Light to medium bodied with integrated oak, acid, alcohol, tannins are "pocking out" adding structure, and a herbal spicy finish. The "deal of the vintage," according to winemaker Thomas Bachelder. It is indeed! So grab some till you can! 4 stars out of 5.

2005 Pinot Noir, Le Petite Vineyard, Le Clos Jordanne Raspberry, fleshy black cherry, fresh mint, earth and mineral bouquet. Medium bodied, juicy with lots of sweet red and black fruit flavours, "chalky" tannins and a medium-long finish. Try with Coq au Vin. Lots of it! 4+ stars out of 5.

2005 Pinot Noir, Claystone Terrace, Le Clos Jordanne The colour is darkest among Le Clos Jordanne Pinots. So are the aromas! Blackberry, rhubarb, beet root, spice, game and earth. Medium-plus bodied with grippy tannins and an earthy, herbaceous finish. Great match with organic Berkshire pork tenderloin in chanterelle, fig, Pinot demi. 4+ stars out of 5.

2005 Pinot Noir, Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, Le Clos Jordanne Drop-dead gorgeous! Perfumed and vivid nose of red cherry, violet and rose petals, spice. Medium bodied, fresh, with cranberry flavours, velvety tannins and a long finish. Complex, yet elegant. Slow fire roasted fennel-scented duck breast in Pinot Noir reduction. 4½+ stars out of 5.

2005 Pinot Noir, Le Grand Clos, Le Clos Jordanne "Noble" and pure! Full bodied with broad and plenty of cherry berry flavours, an uncompromising tannic spine and a long-lingering finish. Might be even better in 2 to 5 years from now! Drink now with slow-braised Turducken (partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken), stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs, dried cranberries and sausage. 4½ stars out of 5.

2005 Chardonnay, Village Reserve, Le Clos Jordanne Stone fruit, mango, vanilla, fresh fennel and limestone. Medium-to-full bodied, ripe, with sweet summer fruit, vanilla oak flavours and benchmark minerality. "Due to long elevage, easier to maintain the terroir aspect," explains Thomas Bachelder. Ideal food match: chilled lobster salad with fennel, mango and aged balsamic. 4 stars out of 5.

2005 Chardonnay, Claystone Terrace, Le Clos Jordanne Big and chunky with candied lemon, yellow apples, yellow plum, baking spice and limestone dust fragrances. Full bodied with ripe peach, pear, Meyer lemon flavours and acidity "in check". Pan roasted monkfish with wild garlic and ginger. 4 stars out of 5.

2005 Chardonnay, Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, Le Clos Jordanne Elegant and discreet. Lovely mineral nose here. On the palate there's lots of sweet, lightly honeyed fruit flavours with outstanding acidity giving a lift to the weight. The finish is bursting of minerality! This wine would put to shame many great white Burgundies! Goes well with Ontario Northern Pike filet in lemon butter Chardonnay. 4½+ stars out of 5.

2005 Chardonnay, Le Grand Clos, Le Clos Jordanne Aromas and flavours of juicy apples, orange blossom and limestone. Medium bodied with apricot, orange flavours, great acid and length, with an interesting, almost salty, minerally tone on the finish. "Quiet" right now, but who knows how it will show in a year or so...?! Great with Burgundian cheeses such as Époisses, Chaource, Abbaye de la Pierre qui Vire. 4½ stars out of 5.

(Thanks, Zoltan)

In the evening I conducted a wine tasting for a law firm at the Gardiner Museum. The theme was southern hemisphere wines.

  • 2006 Tomero (Carlos Pulenta) Sauvignon Blanc – Mendoza, Argentina
  • 2006 Diemersdal "Single Vineyard" – Durbanville, South Africa
  • 2006 Canepa Carmenere – Colchagua Valley, Chile
  • 2005 Dogridge "The Pup" Cab/Merlot – McLaren Vale, Australia
  • 2003 Mulderbosch Shiraz – Western Cape, South Africa
  • 2005 Vina Cobos (Paul Hobbs) "El Felino" Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina

On the way home I dropped into Prego to say hello to Michael Carlevale. He was celebrating American Thanksgiving with a table of 15 guests. Stopped for a glass of Melville Pinot Noir 2005.

Friday, November 23: I leave for Israel this afternoon with a group to visit the wine regions. We're there for a week. So a lot of desk clearing stuff before the car arrives.




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