Walking the pinot noir vines with Derek of Lailey Vineyards.
I'm still in the process of completing my notes on the wines we tasted, both from cask and from bottle. I'll begin writing here as soon as I finish. Notes must be done by hand first.
It was a cold, harsh day, with fierce rain and wind. The drive down to Niagara was blurry and unpleasant. Made it just in time for our first appointment, with Candis of Le Clos Jordanne. We ran into Thomas Bachelder, LCJ's visionary winemaker. Folks in Niagara are always so humble and friendly, something decidedly lacking in Toronto. Candis kindly took us out to all 4 of Le Clos Jordanne's vineyards - La Petite Vineyard, Claystone Terrace, Talon Ridge, and Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard. More about what we did there, later. We then stepped inside the production facilities, to see the sorting and destemming of Talon Ridge pinot noir. Just in time to see the 'giraffe' load the berries into the giant oak fermenting vats as well. Just an eye-opening visit.
Tried to locate Marynissen next. Failed. Apparently, both my GPS and Google Maps don't have a clue about where this estate is located. Such a shame, I wanted to pick up a few bottles for my dinner.
Appointment with Derek Barnett, winemaker of Lailey, at 4pm. Really looking forward to this visit. Derek showed us around the vineyard, going through the pinot noir vines. Stepping into the cellar, we were shown cask samples - I always ask to taste from cask, not to satisfy ego, but because I'm very interested in tracking the evolution of the wine as it matures in oak. We then tasted through a few bottles, of recent and older vintages. Amazing. And we talked. It's so rare to find someone who genuinely loves wine - Derek is one of those few who is clear about what true taste in wine is, and who's clear about the wines he wants to craft. Again, more later.
Fantastic trip, all around. I come to Niagara to learn and engage in dialogue with the people who matter in this industry, and I feel so privileged to meet so many people who understand what great wine is. The hyperbole, the glittery image of Niagara tourism doesn't impress me in the least. As always, I'm in search of truth and beauty in the wines being crafted here, and this visit gave me a much clearer picture of the dedication and focus of the people here. Many thanks - my writing won't do the wines any justice, but I'll try to put into words the magic that I found in the glass.