I’ve been a fan of Le Clos Jordanne wines since their first release, the 2004 vintage, two years ago. Made from young vines, they may not have had the depth of great wines, but they certainly showed the promise. It was terrific to taste pinot noir that from the Niagara that had such a clear sense of place and such a remarkable balance and restraint.
This certainly has a lot to do with Thomas Bachelder, the Québec-born, Burgundy-trained winemaker who heads this organically and biodynamically-farmed estate. Bachelder’s approach is clearly burgundian, trying to define the specific character of each vineyard, and reveal through restrained winemaking. The only blending going on is in the Village Reserve wines, combining lots from Le Clos’ four vineyards (Claystone, Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, La Petite and Talon Ridge). The emphasis is on single-vineyard bottlings, something that may be pushed even further as Bachelder constantly learns more about the character of various parcels within each vineyard. Le Grand Clos, selected from the best lots drawn from the Le Clos Jordanne vineyard, is already pointing in that direction.
For me, what I’ve tasted from the 2006 vintage clearly confirms that Le Clos Jordanne is headed somewhere truly great. In a challenging vintage – lots of rain came through around harvest time – the wines show a truly remarkable level of quality.
I received two bottles as samples from Vincor: the 2006 chardonnay and the 2006 pinot noir from Le Clos Jordanne vineyard. Now, I’ll have to get myself some more for cellaring.
Indeed, what struck me in both cases is that everything about both wines felt young, young, young. The tannins and the oak are forward, the acidity is vibrant, and the flavours are tightly wound, so the package is still integrating and coming together. But there is certainly a lot going on in these wines.
The chardonnay showed candied lemon and a bit of toasted bread, with a nice length and great balance: the acidity is there, ripe flavors too, mineral notes and a tight structure showing a fair bit of oak that hasn’t yet blended in completely with the wine. With its great length and intensity, I’m convinced it will come together harmoniously, and that over five years or more in the cellar, it will develop a complexity and a range of flavors that should be extremely interesting. The way it evolved over two days after opening, displaying more fruit and smoothness, hints at things to come in that regard.
The pinot noir worked pretty much in the same way. Tight tannins, concentrated aromas and flavors that opened up over 24 hours. You already get violets and cherry, and you get more as the wine opens up. The oak, again, is fairly present, but far from obtrusive. And, judging from the clear color, the grapes were treated with respect, avoiding overextraction and providing for neat, well-defined fruit flavors, with an underlying minerality that is very alluring. In my opinion, this wine should go on developing for up to ten years, and will provide a lot of fun along the way.
Oh, and by the way, though the oak is present, it is in no way smothering the wine in heavy toast. And if you doubt that “clean” wines can be obtained from natural yeasts, you should really get your hands on one of these bottles. Le Clos Jordanne wines are remarkably precise, well-defined, showing all the flavors you’d want, and nothing that you wouldn’t want. Score one for the natural way.
For Bachelder, the goal at Clos Jordanne is to define a truly specific sense of terroir for the Niagara region, something that will be neither Burgundy nor Oregon or California. The wines are certainly a lot closer to Burgundy than to Oregon, largely because of the climate, but also because of the winemaker’s outlook. I’m not complaining.
Where can you get this wine?
In terms of distribution, Clos Jordanne benefits from the best of both worlds: though it is, in some ways, a relatively small, artisan producer, the fact that it is a joint venture between Vincor and Boisset means it is part of a powerful marketing and sales network that gives it a reach beyond its size. Few Canadian vineyards on their third release are distributed widely in Ontario and Quebec, and reach, like Le Clos Jordanne does, all Canadian provinces and beyond.
Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard 2006 pinot noir is presently available in both Quebec and Ontario, while the 2006 chardonnay is available at the LCBO. As of today (April 19), the SAQ has a total of 8 Clos Jordanne wines available, while the LCBO has 10. They do tend to disappear quickly, though. In other provinces, allocations are very limited.
Ontario residents can also order the wines online and have them shipped to their home. Lucky them. They even get a chance to order wines from the 2005 vintage, in addition to the more recent 2006 release.
Le Clos Jordanne also reaches beyond Canada. Candis Walsh, the Hospitality director at Le Clos Jordanne, wrote me that: “Internationally, our wines are sold through Liberty Wines in the UK to specialty boutiques and high-end restaurants. We also have some distribution in Asia–our Village Reserve Pinot Noir is available in Japan and is served by the glass in all Four Seasons Hotels in South-east Asia. We will soon be available in the United Arab Emirates as well.” I’d call it a rather nice start.