By Jamie Drummond and Zoltan Szabo
It was with considerable trepidation that we arrived on a crisp Fall afternoon at Biff’s for Le Clos Jordanne’s 2009 tasting. The 2008 release had been terribly disappointing, and what with the transition of Le Clos’ original Winemaker Thomas Bachelder passing the torch to his assistant Sébastien Jacquey, the reputation of what many see as the leaders in premium Ontario Chardonnay and Pinot Noir hung in the balance.
For Niagara, 2009 was looking quite fine and dandy until July and August, when lower than average temperatures and heavy precipitation threatened to derail what looked like a superb vintage, leading many to predict that the grapes were a good two weeks behind ripeness-wise.
Thankfully all was not lost, as come the tail end of August the sun decided to shine and bless the vines with some much needed warmth throughout September. Dry, warm and sunny conditions prevailed for the entire month and into October, making 2009, theoretically, a splendid year for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
And what Le Clos did with their 2009 fruit is really quite remarkable.
As we sat around the the table, being led through the wines by an anxious-looking Msr. Jacquey, it slowly dawned on me that we were tasting some of the best wines ever made by Le Clos.
In that silence, punctuated only by some furtive slurping and spitting, there erupted some sighs of pleasure and/or approval… nods, nudges, and winks were then exchanged between the various Journalists and Sommeliers assembled.
It appeared that we had reached what can only be described as an unspoken consensus.
Le Clos had once again raised the bar for quality Niagara Chardonnay and Pinot.
Talon Ridge – Citrus with green tropical fruit nuances, striking minerality and vivid acidity, so well integrated oak, med – weight with wonderful intensity of pure – clean cool climate Chardonnay fruit, well done.
(I found this bottling to be the star of the show in the whites, elegant and defined, exhibiting perfection in its fruit/acid balance. Delicious. – JD)
Claystone Terrace – This is a bit riper, with white peach, pear and vanilla accents. Fuller, opulent, yet very fresh with nutty – toast – mineral finish. Claystone Terrace is the coolest “climat” among the LCJ sites.
Le Clos Jordanne – Ripe – pure – clean with Meyer lemon – lemon balm – savoury, tropical fruits, toast and limestone. Intense with bright acidity, yet maintaining a great balance and possessing a very long and smooth finish. Impressive and certainly worth cellaring for a bit.
Le Grand Clos – Apples, lemon, exotic spice – floral and clarified butter. Medium to full bodied with striking intensity, complexity and a super – long lemon – mineral finish. Combining beauty and power, this fantastic Chardonnay needs some time to shed away its shyness. I’d be mistaken it with Le Clos grand cru Chablis in a blind tasting…
Talon Ridge – Darker berry notes, cherries, raspberries and exotic spices. Medium bodied and juicy with crisp acidity and soft – chalky tannins. Pure and tasty with very good oak integration already, rounder and softer, extremely appealing.
La Petite Colline – Lightest in colour among the Pinot. Red and black berries, spice, flint, a bit of barn, acceptable reduction here. Richer and fuller, broader and softer and a long warm – mineral finish.
Claystone Terrace – Pretty complex, with wild berries, smoke, earth – mineral – vegetation nuances. Great structure and balance here, along lively freshness. Tiny tightness is perfectly alright, ripe – rich tannins providing backbone and despite, this Pinot got serious rustic charm and a long mineral – stoney finish.
Le Clos Jordanne – Bright red berry and floral – driven bouquet with spice and toast. Pure, round and silky, intense and delicate in the same time, great deal of mineral accents underneath its succulent fruit core. Hate to compare, but reminds me of Volnay – Chambertin in Burgundy, this Pinot may very well be the best yet of LCJ.
(Please excuse the hyperbole, but I would like to go as far as saying that this bottling may be the finest Canadian Pinot Noir I have ever tasted – JD)
Le Grand Clos – Darker fruits with exotic spice and moist autumn forest floor. Full with intense ripe – fresh fruit and rich tannic structure, mineral finish. Closed a bit, but already showing its full potential, eventually to reach its peak in 5 years, or so.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and he was most impressed!