In Niagara (7) Domaine Le Clos Jordanne, Burgundy meets Canada


Le Clos Jordanne began in 2000 as a prestige, vineyard-focused Pinot Noir and Chardonnay project. It was a collaboration between one of Canada’s larger wine companies, Vincor, and the Boisset family of Burgundy. Vincor boss Donald Triggs had seen the success of an earlier collaborative project between Inniskillin and Jaffelin of Burgundy, which operated for a while in the 1990s, and this inspired him to connect with Jaffelin owners Boisset to establish this new project. There were big plans, including a dedicated winery designed by Frank Gehry (which never actually happened), and Pascal Marchand of Boisset-owned Domaine de la Vougerie encouraged Thomas Bachelder to come to Niagara to make the wines.

Thomas Bachelder

Thomas began making wine during his wine studies in 1992 in Burgundy where he gained experience working with Domaine de la Créa and Domaine Marius Delarche. He then went to Oregon to work at Ponzi as assistant winemaker, before returning to Burgundy to work with Génot-Boulanger. After this, back to Oregon in 1999 where he did the first four vintages at the new Lemelson Vineyards. In 2003 he was approached by Marchand and accepted the challenge. The first wine produced was the 2005, released in 2006, and over the following years these terroir-influenced Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays made quite an impact.

The new home of Domaine Le Clos Jordanne

But Vincor became Constellation and the project was put on hold in 2012, and wasn’t resurrected until new owners Arterra persuaded Thomas to come back and head things up in 2017, joined by winemaker Phil Brown. Still, though, it was a domaine without a home. That was until Arterra purchased the Angel’s Gate winery, which came with some vineyards on the Beamsville Bench. So now we have Domaine Le Clos Jordanne, and the beautiful new tasting room and hospitality space has just been opened, perched on the Beamsville Bench, with views across the lake to Toronto. It’s a spectacular setting.

Phil Brown

So in addition to the Clos Jordanne wines from the Jordan Bench vineyards, there will be some wines from the Beamsville Bench. These are still in barrel but they are looking very good. I visited with Thomas to taste the current releases and also to do an extensive deep-dive barrel tasting which Thomas is famous for among wine professionals. It was a great insight into the terroir basis of this project. Where does the parcellation end? It’s not just about vineyards, but different bits of the vineyard producing distinctive and interesting wines.

First we started with a traditional method sparkling wine: a Blanc de Blancs. Thomas was intrigued about sparkling from pandemic-era zoom calls where he was chatting with some sparkling experts: people like Lightfoot and Wolfville, Benjamin Bridge and Belinda Kemp (then of Brock, where she started the fizz club). He chose Blanc de Noirs as a target because Le Clos is 70% planted to Pinot Noir.


Le Clos Jordanne Blanc de Noirs 2020
There’s a small part of barrel in this. This is inoculated, no dosage. In the future the base wines will be wild ferment, and sussreserve will be used for the dosage. So fresh and direct with amazing precision to the tart cherry and redcurrant with lovely citrus fruit. Fresh and precise with nice intensity, with a touch of chalkiness on the finish. 92/100

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2021
Nice supple cherries and plums with sappy notes adding interest, and a hint of iodine. Nice grip here: very stylish. 93/100

Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2021 Twenty Mile Bench
This is 200 m from Le Clos on the Jordan Bench. It is on 17th Street, which leads up to Flat Rock and Westcott. Soils are very similar (but a little more iron in the soils and there’s more of a slope on Claystone, and Clos is a little more chalky). This has a savoury, iodine edge to the silky cherry fruit. Red cherries and plums with nice intensity. There’s flesh here but also a little savouriness and spiciness. Lovely brightness on the finish: very fine. 93/100

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2021 Twenty Mile Bunch
This has nice flesh and structure with red cherries and raspberries, with a stony, mineral underpinning the dense red cherry and raspberry fruit. Tight, with good structure, and some mineral notes. Sappy detail on the finish. Lovely wine, despite the tricky vintage. 94/100

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Chardonnay
Juicy and bright with nice fresh citrus and pineapple fruit, as well as some peachy richness. Good acidity and a stony edge. 92/100

Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2021 Twenty Mile Bench
Fine fresh and linear with lovely precision. There’s some stoniness and saltiness, showing precision and purity. Rich but restrained with pear, citrus and pineapple notes. Finely spiced and detailed. Lovely depth of fruit. 94/100

Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2021 Twenty Mile Bench
Lovely flesh here: bright and expressive with pear and pineapple as well as citrus and peach. Multidimensional with some spicy complexity. Lovely intensity here. Really fine. 94/100

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2021 Twenty Mile Bunch
There’s a mineral, spicy underpinning to the fruit, with some chalky texture and some fine toast and spice, as well as bold citrus fruit. Bright and linear with nice depth, finishing with a toasty, nutty flourish and lovely fruit. 95/100

In 2023 they began making wines from Beamsville estate, and these were included in an extensive barrel tasting. Thomas likens the Jordan Bench wines to Côtes du Nuits, and the Beamsville wines to the Côtes de Beaune.

Tasting from barrel, from Beamsville and Jordan benches

Barrel samples, all 2023. Scores are an approximation, such is the nature of barrel tasting. Where possible, we tasted from used barrels of the same age, to try to get a fair comparison of the different sites. Some of these wines will be bottled as single-vineyard or block, while others will go into the village wines.

Just to make things clear: we are mainly dealing with four vineyards here. The Jordan Bench has two: Le Clos Jordanne and Claystone. Beamsville Bench has two: Mountainview (lower down) and Estate. These are further split into parcels. Then there’s a fifth site, Talon Ridge, on Vinemount Ridge.

Mountainview Chardonnay Beamsville
This is closest to the lake, and thus the warmer site. Refined and textured with white peach richness and some depth. Very textured and fine with some fruit sweetness, and a salty edge. 93

Estate Block Chardonnay Beamsville
This is around the winery, and higher and thus cooler. Very refined, nutty and spicy, and quite pithy. The elevation adds freshness. Very fine and expressive. 94

Same wine, new Damy Vosges puncheon
Spicy and linear. Fine with a nice salty edge. Precise and fruity. 94

Talon Ridge Jordan Chardonnay Vinemount Ridge
Focused, tight and linear, with good tension. Fine. 94/100

Mountainview Chardonnay
Textured, salty and fine with nice weight. Lovely pear and peach fruit. 93

Talon Ridge Chardonnay 360 West
Mineral, stony and linear. Taut and really expressive. Chablis-like. 92/100

Claystone Block 2 East Chardonnay, Jordan
This will be part of the village wine. Textured and fine with lemons and pear, with nice salinity. Taut. 93

Claystone Block 2 West Chardonnay
Nicely textured with iodine, pear and peach with citrus fruit drive. Stony and salty. 94

Claystone Block 1 East Chardonnay
Powerful and textural. Refined with lovely citrus drive and crystalline acidity. Stony, mineral and fine. 95

Claystone Centre Chardonnay
Very fine and refined with lovely texture and depth. Has a saline twist. 95

Claystone Block 1 West Chardonnay
Pear and pineapple. Tight and linear. Saline and energetic. 94

Le Clos Jordanne Block 2 East Chardonnay
Lively and powerful. Good energy here with some richness to the pear and peach. This will be village. 93

Le Clos Jordanne Block 2 West Chardonnay
This has lovely energy with some nice mineral notes. Powerful. 94

Le Clos Jordanne Block 1 East Chardonnay
Very fine and linear with some juicy minerality. Citrussy and fine. Stony. 94

Le Clos Jordanne Block 1 Centre Chardonnay
From a new barrel. Really toasty and powerful. Chalky with intense peach and pear fruit. 95

Le Clos Jordanne Block 1 West Chardonnay
Taut and mineral with powerful pear and peach fruit with some spiciness and nice texture.

Claystone Block 1 West Chardonnay
Toast, meal, spice, salinity, candied citrus fruit. Nice power. 95

Then we shifted to Pinot Noir

Mountainview Pinot Noir Beamsville Bench
Very pale with sappy aromatics. Floral with nice greens. Saline palate with some green notes and light fruit. Love this. 94

Les Anges Pinot Noir
This is organically farmed (the name is provisional, referring to Angel’s Gate). Strawberry, raspberry and cherry. Very textured and fine with some richness. Fine and sappy. So good. 95

Claystone Block 5 Pinot Noir
Ripe, textural and bright with vivid raspberry fruit and some focused cherries. Fine with nice weight in the mouth and some grip. 94

Claystone Chardonnay Block 6 Pinot Noir
Linear and bright with nice structure and some freshness. Lovely fruit with a mineral edge and good structure. 95

Le Clos Jordanne Block 3 Pinot Noir
Linear, juicy and fine with nice structure. Has juiciness and good intensity. 95

Le Clos Jordanne Block 7 Pinot Noir
Herby and appealing with bright fruit. Firmly structured with nice fruit intensity. 95

The same wine from a new barrel
Taut, linear and structured with the wood adding some weight. Stony, with vivid fruit. 94

Le Clos Jordanne Block 11 Pinot Noir
Elegant and fresh with some nice focus. Refined and pure. 95

Finally, two Pinot Gris

Les Anges Pinot Gris
From the higher block. Textured, rich and spicy with nice depth and a hint of aniseed. Fine and long. 93

Lower block: Lively, spicy and open with pear and peach fruit, showing nice intensity and texture, as well as lovely depth. Fine and spicy. 93