Le Clos Jordanne – A Winery Profile

Welcome Back Le Clos Jordanne
by David Lawrason

This feature was commissioned by Arterra Wines Canada.

One of the “good news” stories for Canadian wine in 2019 has been the renaissance of Le Clos Jordanne in Niagara – a much talked and written about project that not only made excellent wine when first launched in 2004, but gave Niagara a huge injection of confidence. It was a forerunner in an era of ambitious quality-first, expensive winery projects that, to me, marked Ontario wine’s real coming out in the mid 2000s.

I will tell the impressive and important back story in a moment, but first you need to know that Thomas Bachelder has returned as winemaker; that the grapes are coming from the same (now more mature) vineyards in the Twenty Mile Bench near Jordan; and that the wines are excellent quality. When I first tasted the 2017 Le Grand Clos Chardonnay during a sneak peek at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration in July, I had lined it up with over a dozen other premium Ontario 2017s. It scored highest at 94 points.

Both the LCJ Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were released at a festive launch event on November 19th, held for Toronto Life Insider Club members, other invited guests and selected media, at the swank Monogram (Kitchen) Design Centre on Castlefield Road in north Toronto. And both were also released into LCBO Vintages stores on Saturday, November 23rd. (Editor’s note: At the time of publishing there was still inventory, but we suspect they will move quickly.)

I hosted the Monogram event and posed some questions to Thomas, who has returned to make Le Clos Jordanne after a seven-year hiatus during which he launched his own Bachelder brand and consulted to several Ontario projects. We were all curious to know how it felt to be back at “Le Clos” and what was different.

“I was delighted when Jay Wright (CEO of Arterra) told me Arterra had made this decision. They are a Canadian company that wants to invest in Canada (now owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund). And it has been such a pleasure to come back to these vines. As the vines got older, they got stronger and grew into better balance,” he said.

“This is a great site (on benchlands above the village of Jordan). It is where the magic happens, where that limestone bench comes into contact with Lake Ontario. What is special about Jordan is the altitude and distance from the lake, slowing down the development of grapes. We are forced to wait for ripening. And all the time “la vigna” is ripening, she is also bringing up nutrients…including the minerality that you taste on the finish of these wines,” he continued.

Typically, not a short answer from Thomas, but one and all love to listen to his impassioned thoughts on wine.

Thomas Bachelder

The Back Story

Born and raised near Montreal, Thomas Bachelder was given a winemaking kit as a teenager and has never looked back. He wrote about wine for awhile (he and I travelled to Europe on press trips), but he fell in love with Burgundy in France, and moved there to work with Domaine de la Crea, Domaine Marius Delarche, and later the esteemed Chateau Genot-Boulanger. Meanwhile, Oregon pinot noir had crossed his radar, and after due investigation, he moved the Pacific Northwest, where he made four vintages at Lemelson Vineyards. It was in 2003 that he got the first call about this new Niagara project called Le Clos Jordanne.

The concept had been hatched a couple of years earlier when Burgundy vintner Jean-Charles Boisset had taken interest in Niagara after a chance encounter with a Niagara pinot called Alliance. That wine had been made in the early 90s through a joint venture between Inniskillin and a Burgundy house called Jaffelin (which Boisset subsequently purchased). On a visit to Niagara, JC Boisset remarked that the Niagara Escarpment benches bore more resemblance to Burgundy’s Cote d’Or than any other place he had seen on Earth.

A joint venture to make really serious Burgundy-inspired chardonnay and pinot was put together by Boisset and Vincor Canada (a company created through the merger of Inniskillin and TG Bright) in 1993. The vines and viticultural expertise were to come from France, with vines grown organically and densely planted to increase competition and reduce yield. A fantastic modern winery, designed by superstar architect Frank Gehry, was blueprinted, but was never started.

The vineyard work did proceed, however, and by 2003, a winemaker was required. Enter Thomas Bachelder with his Old World and New World pinot and chardonnay experience. 

Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard

He bottled a tiny amount of pinot in 2003, then released much larger commercial quantities for the 2004 vintage. For the remainder of the decade, the wines got better and better, although they were often hard to purchase, not having a winery retail presence. By 2010, Thomas was envisioning his own project and moved on, leaving the very capable assistant Sebastien Jacquey at the helm. But tough winters in 2013, 2014 and 2015, coupled with a change of ownership, spelled the end in 2016.

The New Era & The New Wines

On the surface at least not much has changed. The wine name, logo and packaging remain the same. The wines are coming from the same site and same winemaker. But for those who remember, the original project bottled five different single vineyard wines, where as now there is only one, Le Grand Clos white and red. Le Grand Clos was the most expensive wine previously but this version costs about $25 less. And what’s in the bottle seems every bit as good, according to this observer. They are wines of great accuracy, precision and depth.


Thomas Bachelder puts it this way, “These wines have done their yoga. They really have great posture. They have lots of poise. You can enjoy them now (I think they’re tasting pretty good) but you can reliably put these away for five years and they will improve. If you plan to serve them during the Holidays, be sure to decant them well in advance of serving. They will open up!”

As to the future, there are plans to release a matching, as yet unnamed, less expensive chardonnay and pinot noir in 2021.

For now, we get to simply enjoy the reborn wines we have. To get the WineAlign crü’s thoughts on these wines, please click on the links below.

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2017

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2017

This feature was commissioned by Arterra Wines Canada. As a regular feature, WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single winery. Our writers independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted on WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in the winery profile. Wineries and wine agents pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, and its content, is entirely up to WineAlign.