Friday, May 8, 2009

Our own Judgement of Paris?

Woke up to this article in the Star: 'Pirate' Niagara wine beats world’s best.

I havn't been quiet about my enthusiasm for Le Clos Jordanne. I've had an in-depth look at this producer, and I'm now convinced more than ever of the greatness that Niagara can achieve. But read the Star article first. For a wine-related article, the comments are exploding. The neophytes are going crazy, and while their hearts are in the right place, no one on that board knows a thing about wine, much less what ''winning'' this competition means for Le Clos Jordanne and Niagara.

This article implies that by showing favourably at this competition, Le Clos Jordanne and Niagara wine are conclusively better than its French and Californian counterparts. That is the worst spin you could put on the event. What's more egregious is that these types of articles do not present Niagara in a positive light - this method of evaluating wine is simply inherently flawed.

Firstly, where in the article does it list the other wines tasted? Were they Grand Cru Burgundy? Carneros or Russian River Valley chardonnay? The Claystone Terrace Chardonnay was shown at this tasting, so can we assume that all the other wines were in the same price range? Were they comparable in any other way? What order were they tasted? Were they similar vintages? Were the tasters more concerned with determining the provenance of the wines? You see, the grey area in these types of tastings is too large to resolutely determine the absolute superiority of a wine over another. Simply put, on this day, Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay showed extremely well, but one cannot make the statement that it is a better wine than either the French or Californian bottles.

The second issue, and the one that disturbs me the most, is the fact that the author makes the assertion that Le Clos Jordanne is indistinguishable from white Burgundy. This is absolutely ridiculous, and an irresponsible claim. As Ms. Walsh articulated very clearly to me, Le Clos Jordanne strives to make a Twenty Mile Bench wine first, and foremost. Yes, there is extensive use of French savoir-faire and tradition, but the terroir comes first. Le Clos Jordanne should not aim to mimic French wines. They don't need to, because the wines are exceptional and unique. This claim of being very French does a disservice to Bachelder, and everyone involved in Le Clos Jordanne.

In any case, as long as people are supporting Niagara, that's a positive step. We don't need to be defensive about our wines - they speak for themselves. We do however, need to begin being more confident in our own style of wines. And please, stop referring to the wines as 'pirate' wines. Le Clos Jordanne is much more noble than that.

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