An exciting chapter in Canadian winemaking at the highest level has, sadly, come to end with new the venerable Le Clos Jordanne brand ceasing to exist as of the current 2012 vintage.
Del Rollo, senior director of government relations and estates for Constellation Brands, owner of Le Clos Jordanne, confirmed the shocking news to Wines In Niagara on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Rollo, “but it makes sense and we have a robust plan for the future.”
Rollo said that an announcement is coming soon as to what will become of the former Le Clos Jordanne and the fruit grown at its three key vineyards – Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard, Claystone Terrace and Talon Ridge. He said a new wine will emerge from the coveted vineyards. “I’m pretty excited to know there will be something new,” he said.
Rollo said two short crops in a row (2014-2015) prompted the decision to do away with the brand, along with some other key factors that, at the end of the day, didn’t make the top-quality and critically acclaimed Pinots and Chards from Le Clos a smart business decision.
“I have a personal connection to Le Clos, so it does make me sad,” he said. “But I have mixed emotions.” He said he’s excited by what’s coming. He added that there is no current plan “that I know of” to sell the vineyards.
Original winemaker at Le Clos, Thomas Bachelder, called the project “the promise of Niagara” and said the vineyards, without question, are “some of the best in Canada” for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Bachelder went on to his Bachelder wine project after Le Clos and Sebastien Jacquey, above, took over for him. Jacquey has since joined Megalomaniac as the winemaker there and the Le Clos brand moved to the main Constellation Brand winery in Niagara Falls.
Bachelder said buying vineyards isn’t in his business plan, but they were, Le Clos would be on top of his wish list.
“Someone’s going to get those vineyards, some day,” he said. “It’s amazing (that the brand has closed), but the Phoenix will rise from the ashes.”
More to come on this breaking story.
About Le Clos:
Le Clos Jordanne was inspired by an original initiative by Inniskillin cofounders Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser. In 1993, Inniskillin entered into a joint venture with Burgundian producer Jaffelin. Together they created limited edition VQA wines called “Alliance” made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes grown in Niagara. This reinforced Canada’s ability to grow cool climate varieties in the Niagara region that are well known and respected in Burgundy, France. The collaboration combined the expertise of winemakers Bernard Repolt from Jaffelin and Karl Kaiser from Inniskillin. The distinction of these wines were based on barrel selection and vineyards that were producing the best fruit for these varietals. The wines were made until 1997 with Chardonnay being produced every year and the Pinot Noir only being made in the very best vintages (93, 95, 97).
The success of Inniskillin’s joint venture led Donald Triggs, wine pioneer and CEO of Vincor, the company that owned Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs Wines, to continue developing their relationship with Jaffelin, who had since then become a part of Boisset Wines. Together, they conducted careful research across the Niagara region, hand selecting vineyards that would be properly suited for growing ultra premium cool climate grapes. Specialty Chardonnay and Pinot Noir rootstock was imported from France and expertly planted in the chosen vineyards. The combined winemaking expertise and passion of Boisset’s Pascal Marchand and Vincor’s Thomas Bachelder, ensured that no detail was overlooked in paying respect to the time honoured traditional vineyard and winemaking techniques used in Burgundy, France.
EXCLUSIVELY PINOT NOIR AND CHARDONNAY
Le Clos Jordanne’s objectives were to show the similarities between Niagara and Burgundy and yet at the same time reveal the uniqueness of the Niagara Terroir. Throughout the range of wines, Le Clos Jordanne wanted to minimize the winemaking intervention and focus on the vineyard differences. The Niagara region is ideal for growing early ripening grape varieties, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are the key noble grape varieties in Burgundy, France. Furthermore, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with their thin skins, have the sensitivity required to express their own growing conditions with precision and elegance.