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Top Niagara Pinot Noirs and a couple of wow Chards lead the charge at Vintages release Saturday


Le Clos Jordanne winemaker Sebastien Jacquey was effusive in his praise of the 2009 vintage for Niagara Pinot Noirs when I tasted the wines with him over a year ago.

“We won’t have another year like 2009 for Pinot Noirs for probably 10 years,” he said at the time.

It was one of those rare vintages where everything came together at the end of the harvest after an uneventful and rather cool growing season. The 2009 wines are just starting to open up to show their true potential.

Vintages, in their wisdom, has included a nice selection for release (and in some cases, re-release) this Saturday just in time for Christmas, including some of the stars of the vintage.

Pinots, along with a couple of pretty good Chardonnays, lead the pack at the Vintages release on Saturday.

Here’s what to look for:


Mike Weir Pinot Noir 2009 ($20, 87 points) — A late release from Weir, the 09 Pinot is one of the last from that vintage in Niagara to make it to retail shelves. It has an intense nose of blueberry, cassis, small red berries, mocha and oak stylings. It’s quite savoury on the palate with fruits leaning toward dark berries, earth, cedar and spice. All in all, a masculine Pinot with a firm backbone. The fruit is sourced from the vineyards of Chateau des Charmes in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

09Ess_PinotNoir13th Street Essence Pinot Noir 2009 ($45, 91 points) — Didn’t winemaker JP Colas say you can’t make Pinot Noir in Niagara? Yes he did (sort of) and he explains (sort of) what he meant by that on the back label of this wonderful Pinot Noir, his first made in Niagara. All the classic aromas to start — mushroom, barnyard, forest floor, cedar — then followed by cherry, cranberry, strawberry with a hint of spice. Very feminine and delicate with finesse on the palate, fine texture, silky tannins and well balanced acidity.

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2009 ($75, 92 points) – Fruit for this top Pinot in the portfolio is sourced from the best block of fruit located on the limestone-rich western side of the Le Clos Jordanne Estate Vineyard. It is much more classically Burgundian in style then, say, the Claystone Terrace Vineyard, and shows more elegance through the profile. The nose displays ripe plum, cranberries, black cherries, loam, cassis, flinty minerality, violets, minty spices and toasted oak-vanilla. It is dry yet persistent on the palate, still super-tight and waiting to open up, but still delivers wonderful red and black fruit intensity and balanced with wonderful spice and the elegance of fine oak. Wait on this, and it will return huge dividends. Potential for seven or more years in the cellar.

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2009 ($65, 91 points) — The nose displays a good fruit attack from the get-go with tropical notes, lime-citrus, honey and bright fresh apples that’s neatly stitched together with soft spice, oak tones and chalky minerality. On the palate, this grandest of the Clos Chards, shows laser sharp acidity, exciting tension in the mouth, juicy fruits, chalky stone minerals, and vanilla-brioche flavours all bathed in fine oak that enhances, rather than smothers, the fruit. A very fine Chardy that will get even better with age.

Malivoire Moira Chardonnay 2009 ($40, 91 points) — The nose is ripe and creamy with layers of apple pie, peach cobbler, honeycomb and a burst of citrus. The 09 vintage combines rich fruits, oak-inspired spices, lovely texture and an energetic core of verve and tension from the racy acids provided by the vintage.

Other Niagara wines released but not reviewed:

Stratus White 2009 ($44)

Stratus Red 2009 ($44)

Henry of Pelham Cabernet Icewine 2011 ($40, 200 ml)

Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Gewurztraminer Icewine 2007 ($35, 22 ml)

Konzelmann Vidal Icewine 2009 ($25, 200 ml)

Stratus Riesling Icewine 2008 ($40, 200 ml)