Burgundy Niagara Challenge
Tom Bachelder, the head winemaker for Le Clos Jordanne wines, led the tasting. Bachelder made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy and Oregon before coming to Niagara in 2003. After an in-depth comparison of terroir and winemaking techniques, he suggested that Niagara was Mid-Atlantic, halfway between old and new world styles.
The first flight compared a 2005 Clos Jordanne, CJ Vineyard Chardonnay ($35) to a 2005 Château Mersault Chardonnay ($57). By a three to one margin, the forty tasters in the room preferred the Ontario version.
Three rounds of Pinot Noir followed. A resounding victory for the Niagara Teaching College’s 2007 Dean’s List Pinot Noir ($37), also a Cuvée winner, over a 2005 Cauvard Premier Cru, Les Cents Vignes ($44). The 2004 Lailey Vineyard Pinot Noir ($25) suffered a narrow defeat to a 2005 Rodet Santenay Premier Cru, Clos Rousseau ($32), and a 2005 CJ “Petite Vineyard” Pinot Noir ($35) landed in a dead heat with a 2005 Rodet Gevrey-Chambertin ($43). All of the Burgundies were about 25% more expensive than the Ontario wines.
We learned that Niagara is at least on a par with the homeland of these varieties and quite likely a better value.