By Robert Stephen
(JORDAN STATION, ON) – As a Windsor Square writer the prowess of the Square was recently recognized when I received a freebie invitation from Eric Morham the President of Vincor Canada to attend a Le Clos Jordanne wine tasting of its 2008 vintage on November 9th at the top of the Manulife Centre at “Panorama” in Toronto . Le Clos Jordanne is considered by many savvy wine critics, with higher pedigree than yours truly, as the best producer of Ontario chardonnay and pinot noir. I went to be convinced. This is like attending the premiere of a Hollywood film! And the view is stunning.
I arrived in relative peace and quiet and sat hunched in the corner pen in hand carefully nursing a glass of the $65 a bottle Le Grand Clos 2008 Chardonnay. This is the wonder kid of Niagara chardonnays lovely light gold colour with aromas of grapefruit, quince and honey with moderate oak. Very pleasant with a big sturdy no nonsense frame to it. However a tad sour on the palate. So on and on it went with 4 more chardonnays in a decreasing price range. Sourness predominated but somehow worked brilliantly with the Claystone Terrace 2008 Chardonnay with a huge sweet spot of honey, apricots and butterscotch. Classy with intriguing aromas. Creamy and nutty on the palate with very rough and pleasing finish of quince jam. Worth the $40. Just unopen this beauty at noon on Christmas day and slide into a turkey feast. A wonderful Canadian chardonnay. Unlike any other chardonnay I have tasted.
I can go into detail about the other chardonnays but after glass 5 I was beginning to find the event more pleasant than the wine. Please note that I dump and spit, avoid eating cheese and other delightful nibbles as they tend to dull the palate. This is discipline as beef tartar, duck, quiche and no end of delights whizzes by. By the way there is a French proverb , “ Buy on bread, sell on cheese.” Bread sharpens and cleans the palate while cheese coats it with protein and softens wine…get the idea? Compliments to Vincor for having lots of bread on hand. That’s real integrity. It’s the small things like that which can show the integrity of wine sellers.
Before moving to the pinot noirs, reps from the winery praised the acidity, leanness and elegance of their wines…somewhere between the Old World and New World, Ontario terroir and so forth and so on. Indeed this was true the chardonnays were on the sour side and the pinots were a bit thin and acidic to the point I couldn’t go on trying them after three. But I noted a very interesting trend. The more expensive pinots, particularly the Le Grand Clos 2008 Pinot Noir, had a very strong chocolate nose, with beets and almonds. I’d score it a 91/100 based on its seductive nose. On the other hand it will be retailing at $70-75 so it better wow. Unfortunately a bit thin and acidic on the palate.
As I am sure you don’t want detailed descriptions on all the other wines let’s mention why these events are great for your wine education.
- You can try many wines in a short time. How long would it take you to go through 10 bottles of wine as opposed to 10 wines in 90 minutes?
- You can pick up trends and styles. At this tasting I detected their chardonnays as being very firm and acidic and sour but with skilful use of oak. Best to match with food. Their pinots have chocolate notes which decrease into cocoa powder at the bottom price range. This would be a hard observation to make if you taste over days but is instantaneous at a tasting.
- You can eat lots of great food after you have concentrated on the business of tasting.
- You can meet loads of interesting people who know very little about wine so you need not be intimidated. But then again there are the know it alls who think they are the true taste buds of the world. This is all very dramatic and interesting. The theatre of wine.
- You can hear directly about the philosophy of the winemakers. After hearing praises of leanness and elegance I see why some like me will conclude sour and acidic trends in the wine.
- You can hear loads of opinions that differ from yours. I am talking about chocolate in the pinot noirs and then someone approaches me and says flowers? This is the lovely subjectivity about wine.
- You can witness the sales pitch. My respect increases when there is no sales pitch. Let the wine speak for itself. There was no sales pitch here.
So it goes. All this wine, a few nibbles and I am not saying this was the best night of my life. Oooooh. Ingratitude. Love it. The wine world is cruel.