Yes, Ontario makes some excellent premium wines, both red and white, and Le Clos Jordanne‘s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are definitely among the top of the heap. Last week, I attended the launch party of the 2009 Le Clos Jordanne wines, held at the Brooks Brothers clothing store in the Royal Bank Plaza in Toronto. I have to say that it’s the first wine tasting I’ve ever been to in a clothing store, but it seemed to work out.
The Le Clos Jordanne wines were, as usual, of high quality. In fact, Del Rollo (of Vincor) who welcomed everyone to the wine tasting, proudly proclaimed that 2009 is one of the best vintages they’ve ever done.
Le Clos Jordanne Winemaker Sebastien Jacquey said that 2009 had “ideal conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It was cooler, but sunny and dry.” He stated that the fruit was clean and healthy, and they were able to use wild yeasts and long maceration times.
However, the wines are still very young, and most of them need more time in the bottle to integrate and mellow a bit more. To read my review of the Le Clos Jordanne 2007 Vintage, please click here.
The 2009 Vintage in Ontario
According the VQA Ontario Vintages Report, the 2009 vintage had some difficulties. April was wet. May was drier but cool, giving a slow but steady start to flowering. June had normal temperatures and precipitation, but in July the weather turned cool and wet, with temperatures about 2 to 3°C cooler than normal. August started out cool, but by the third week, much needed warmth and sunshine returned. At this point it looked like it would be a late harvest. September really pushed along ripening with continued warm, dry, and sunny conditions. In the end the harvest was only a few days later than normal. The vintage was a bit challenging for longer-ripening reds, such as Merlot and the Cabernets, but it was excellent for Pinot Noir and Gamay.
The Le Clos Jordanne grapes were harvested in the beginning to mid-October in 2009 at around 22° Brix. Sorting was minimal due to the excellent health of the fruit.
Le Clos Jordanne has 4 vineyards: Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, La Petite Colline, Claystone Terrace, and Talon Ridge. The vineyards are all farmed sustainably with biodynamic practices being used, such as spraying with herbal preparations. No pesticides or herbicides are used in any of the vineyards. Each vineyard is treated differently according to its specific terroir needs, and each vine is cared for by hand. The vines are trained in a single guyot system and usually leaf pulling is done at the beginning of veraison on the eastern side of the vine. In 2009, leaf pulling was done on both the east and west sides of the vine to prevent disease and to ensure grape ripening in the cooler weather. After veraison, the vines are netted to prevent the birds from devouring the grapes before they are harvested. All wines are VQA and are labelled with the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula, except the wines from Talon Ridge which are designated as Vinemount Ridge.
Chardonnay: The winemaking and ageing of the Chardonnays remained pretty constant among all wines. Fermentation took place in barrel using wild yeasts. Due to the high acidity of the Chardonnay, the malolactic fermentation struggled a bit with some wines only completing about 80% MLF. The wines were aged for 13 months in 15 to 20% new French oak barrels, with continual lees stirring throughout this time.
Pinot Noir: The grapes were clean and ripe and underwent 5 days of cold soak prior to fermentation with wild yeasts. Maceration lasted for approximately 32 days, and then the wine was transferred to barrel where it underwent natural malolactic fermentation. All the Pinot Noirs were aged on the lees for 18 months in 35% new French oak barrels.
Wine Tasting Notes:
The Village Reserve Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from all four vineyards and is sourced from sections of the vineyards not reserved for the single vineyard wines. The Village Reserve Chardonnay is a blend of Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, Claystone Terrace, and Talon Ridge. No Chardonnay is grown on La Petite Vineyard due to its small size. The Village Reserve wines are meant to express the terroir of the town of Jordan in the Niagara Peninsula appellation.
Village Reserve Chardonnay 2009: A bright, pale lemon colour with aromas of white flowers, honey, vanilla, smoke, nectarine, and lemon/lime citrus. It’s crisp and clean with a minerally yet creamy finish and a good length. $30
Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2009: Medium ruby-coloured with black and red cherry, black currant, earth, black pepper, and chocolate on the nose. On the palate, this wine reveals a firm structure, with flavours of sour cherry, red currant, and toasty oak. Could use at least 6 months in bottle and will drink well for at least 3 years. $30
Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard
Wines from this vineyard are considered to be among the best in Le Clos Jordanne’s portfolio. It’s located on a natural plateau near the slope of the escarpment on light limestone soils with rich sediments.
Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay 2009: This wine shows an abundance of fruit, including melon, peach, apricot, and lemon/lime, along with aromas of white flowers and cream. Very creamy and supple on the palate with a very good length. $40.
Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009: Aromas of mixed red berries: cranberries, cherries, strawberries; violets, mineral, and toasty oak. Soft, silky, and juicy on the palate with a long finish. A good choice to serve during the holidays this year but will also keep for 3 to 5 years. $45.
Talon Ridge is the largest of the 4 vineyards at 27.14 ha (69.21 acres) and differs from the other vineyards in the estate as it is located at the top of the escarpment rather than at its base. It has stonier soils and its higher altitude means that it has cooler temperatures, generally resulting in lighter, fruitier wines.
Talon Ridge Chardonnay 2009: Quite intense aromas of vanilla, coconut, yellow apple, pear, mineral, and honey. Zippy acidity, chalky stone, and yellow fruit dominate the palate. The oak is well-integrated and the wine has a pleasant creamy finish. $37
Talon Ridge Pinot Noir 2009: This wine shows aromas of dark cherry, spicy black pepper, plum, and dried herbs. On the palate, the tannins are somewhat astringent and might benefit from at least a year in the bottle. $40.
As its name suggests, the soil has heavy, dark, moisture retaining, clay soils which results in robust, well-structured wines. The vineyard is 9.91 ha (24.48 acres). Personally, the 2009 Claystone Terrace wines, both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, were my favourite of the tasting.
Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2009: Complex aromas of yellow stone fruit (nectarine, apricot, peach), lemon/lime citrus, yellow apple, creamy vanilla, mineral, and a touch of butterscotch. Rich and juicy on the palate with lively acidity, ripe fruit, well-integrated oak flavours, and a long creamy finish. Very delicious. Drinking well now but will also benefit from a couple of years in the cellar. $40
Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2009: A ruby red colour with pronounced aromas of both red and dark fruit, such as red plum and blackberries, along with dark chocolate, earth, and spice. Silky and soft on the palate with rich fruit, ripe tannins, fresh acidity, and a long length. A beautiful and elegant wine, which will benefit from 3 to 5 years of ageing. $40
La Petite Colline
This is the smallest vineyard at only 3.25 ha (8.3 acres). It has very sandy soils which means it has better drainage and warmer temperatures which reflects in the wines. Only Pinot Noir is planted in this vineyard due to its very small size.
La Petite Colline Pinot Noir 2009: This is a very pretty wine with aromas of red currant, raspberry, cherry, earth, and a touch of spice. Refreshing acidity, tart sour cherry, and mineral are evident on the palate. The tannins are soft and ripe. A very nice Pinot Noir. $45
Le Grand Clos
The grapes for these wines come from the best parcels of the Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard where the soil has better drainage and more limestone than other parcels. The grapes for this wine generally hang on the vine for a longer time, optimizing ripeness and complexity.
Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2009: Elegant and complex, this wine shows aromas of stony mineral, sweet vanilla, cinnamon, fresh lemon citrus, stone fruit, and white blossoms. A silky, creamy texture and full-body, with flavours of citrus, peaches and cream, mineral, and creme brulee on the long finish. $65
Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2009: Aromas of spicy red and black berries (cherry, currant, blackberry), earth, smoky oak, and a floral note. The tannins are ripe but need more time to integrate and soften. Rich and velvetty. Will benefit from at least 3 years of aging and will cellar well for 5 to 7 years.