Friday, July 12, 2013

Tasting at Le Clos Jordanne

So in early May - what seems like ages ago - we went to Niagara for the day. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, warm and fuzzy all over. That's all over and done now, but I do still have tasting notes from that day. Only one appointment, with Sébastien Jacquey of Le Clos Jordanne. I had met Sébastien, briefly, last year. I had a chance to taste some 2011's from cask, and immediately, I was blown away by the structure. It was like the entire personality of LCJ had changed - it was far more chiselled and well defined than before, when Sébastien was the assistant winemaker under Thomas Bachelder. Now that he was running things, the 2011's looked like the first salvo of what appeared to be a change in the LCJ style.

Sébastien worked with Thomas for a long time, and he's maintaining many of the same philosophies. The influence is clear, especially when Séb says things like:

Thomas says when something is wrong and you don't know what to do with the wine, you do nothing.

The focus on site expression and purity in character is very much being upheld here, but as the wines showed, that character is becoming more chiseled, more muscular, and more impactful. Exciting things happening here, and very much worthy of its reputation as a premium wine producer. The wines remain so pure and expressive, as before, but they now have that muscle and backbone that was missing. Séb keeps pushing the boundaries, keeps experimenting with extraction techniques, with whole clusters, with temperatures; in my opinion, he's exactly what Niagara needs. Young, passionate energy, full of talent and vision. The chardonnays were just bottled the week we went in, and so the winery was a flurry of activity. Many thanks to Sébastien for taking some time to share these with us. We started with the pinot noirs, in bottle and then from barrel, before finishing with the chardonnays.

Pinot Noir
From bottle:

2011 Village Reserve Pinot Noir: Blend of 3 vineyards: 35% Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, 20% Claystone Terrace, and 20% La Petite. 5% of fruit whole-cluster fermented, a week of cold soak to maintain low extraction; stronger extraction through fermentation. Temperature kept under 28°C. 60% press juice in the blend, malolactic fermentation in barrel (30% new oak). Kept in oak for 16 months, with only periodic topping up and one racking in tank. Shows fabulous juicy fruit, very pure. Some earthiness, needs time to unwind that structure. Grippy and exciting tannins, but still in the LCJ style.

2011 Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir: Unfiltered. Minerality here, pure and so tight. So completely linear, real elegance and strength, the iron fist in a velvet glove.

2011 Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir: Less clay on this site, more silt and sand. Rounder centre on the palate, very ripe tannins.

2011 Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir: The top cuvée, from the west side of Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard. 3 more days of cold soak, about 40 days of maceration. Ultra elegant and fine in structure, great breeding evident already.

Barrel samples:

2012 Village Reserve Pinot Noir: 15% whole cluster, malolactic fermentation completed in early February, sulfur added in mid-March. Sébastien was careful with the extraction, allowing a long, cold soak. This is from 60% of new plantations. A big wine, a bit uncouth at the moment, but great fruit quality.

2012 Claystone Terrace (West) Pinot Noir: 40 days of maceration. Sulfur odours initially, but they blow off to reveal a great freshness and purity. A very open wine, although slightly coarse on the palate.

2012 Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir: Long malolactic fermentation, picked slightly sooner. Very tannic here, but some fruit. Sébastien thinks this is a bit disjointed, balance a bit off.

2012 Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir: Earthiness here and fabulous purity. Sébastien thinks it's slightly closed. Refined, tight tannins.


2011 Village Reserve Chardonnay: Bottled 2 months ago. Aged in 15% new oak, with lees stirring. Sébastien is working on freshness here, picking sooner for lower alcohol. Again that purity, but with great structure and depth. Very focused.

2011 Claystone Terrace Chardonnay: Restrained structure with no perceptible oak on the nose. Ripe citrus here, great juiciness, oak comes up slightly on the palate with some creaminess. Fabulous dry extract.

2011 Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay: This sees 15% new oak. Creamy and round, more subtle here, more acid as well. Great extract on the finish.

2012 Le Grand Clos Chardonnay: Different pressing; Sébastien kept the first press juice and reintegrated 30% of hard press juice. Very expressive, oaky but well integrated. Elegant palate, gorgeous body.


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