A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 757: Tasting with Thomas


Bachelder’s Gamays

Monday, April 6th: Thomas Bachelder arranged for me to have a virtual tasting via Zoom of his Spring release.

Here’s his initial email:

A note on the “Niagara Chardonnay 3-Terroirs Project:” Making these wines was a thrill for me, and was my way of learning about how these Classic far-flung terroirs differ*… These are all 4- barrel lots (roughly 1150 bottles each after lees loss), and there is no new oak in any of these 3 wines (the barrels are 1yr-old; 2y and the last two are 4y in all lots).

The suggested order of the wines:

Bachelder 2018 Wismer-Foxcroft Vineyard Single Vineyard “CRU” Gamay Noir VQA Twenty Mile Bench
Medium ruby in colour; minerally, red cherry nose with a light floral note; medium-bodied, dry, fruity and fresh, sour cherry flavour with lively acidity. Lovely mouth-feel, great length with a firm finish. (22% whole cluster fermentation). (89)

Bachelder 2018 Willms “les Naturistes” Gamay Noir Niagara Cru
Pale ruby in colour (almost a deep rosé); minerally, cherry pit nose with a touch of oak spice; medium-bodied, dry, raspberry flavour with fresh acidity. Lovely mouth-feel with a floral flourish on the finish. Almost Pinot-like. (89)

Bachelder 2018 “les Villages” Gamay Noir Niagara Peninsula
A couple of shades deeper ruby colour than “les Naturistes”; lightly spicy, red plum bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, lean and sinewy, red plum flavour with fresh acidity. (88.5)

Bachelder 2017 Willms Vineyard 1983 Old-Vine Plantation Chardonnay, VQA Four-Mile Creek (“lovingly selected from the eastern, more lean side of the vineyard”)
Golden colour; lightly spicy, minerally, floral, apple and peach bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, mouth-filling with a toasty, caramel finish; beautifully integrated oak ending on a note of vanilla. Reminiscent of a Meursault. (92)

Bachelder 2017 Saunders-Haut Vineyard Chardonnay Organically Grown, VQA Beamsville Bench
Slightly deeper golden colour than the Willms. Lightly spicy, minerally, floral, toasty, peachy nose; medium-bodied, dry; richer and fuller on the palate than the Willms; Puligny-Montrachet style with a note of underbrush, round on the palate, lovely mouth-feel with a resiny note on the finish. (93)

Bachelder 2017 Wismer Wingfield “Ouest” Vineyard Chardonnay, VQA Twenty Mile Bench (“Furthest from the lake… harvested latest, and, typically, the most searingly mineral.”)
Deep golden colour; spicy, apple, toasty, underbrush nose). Very Burgundian in style; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, beautifully balanced peachy-apple flavours culminating in a long, lemony finish. (92)

Bachelder 2017 Wismer-Parke “Ouest” Pinot Noir, VQA Twenty Mile Bench (“We use the western half of the vineyard, with the ‘reddest’ flavour – the other side goes into our ‘les Villages.’”)
Medium ruby in colour; a lifted, gamey nose of rust, minerals, raspberry and violets; medium-bodied, dry with ripe tannins. Beautifully balanced and elegant, with lively acidity. (93)

Bachelder 2017 Lowrey Vineyard “Old Vines/Vieilles Vignes” Pinot Noir, VQA St. David’s Bench (“Although the Lowrey is lighter in colour and in some ways more delicate than the Wismer-Parke, I find doing it last makes the elegance obvious, with the added benefit of making the old vine-y limestone finish ‘pop!’”)
Medium ruby in colour; lifted, minerally, earthy, beetroot nose with underbrush notes; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, strawberry flavour; great balance and a firm tannic structure. (93)

At the conclusion of the tasting, Thomas asked me, “Have you ever had Niagara-on-the-Lake, Beamsville, and Vineland Chardonnays, all from the same producer?” No, I haven’t, and these are remarkably fine wines.

Other wines tasted:


The Marynissen wines

Marynissen Riesling 2018 (Niagara Peninsula)
Pale straw colour; spicy, minerally, Meyer lemon and apple bouquet; medium-bodied, just off-dry with grapefruit and apple flavours with a touch of honey. Good length. Drinking well now but will hold for at least five years. (89)

Marynissen Chardonnay 2015
Straw colour; toasty, slightly smoky, apple nose with a note of underbrush; medium-bodied, dry, richly extracted, orange and pineapple flavours carried on fresh, lemony acidity. Well-integrated oak. A beautifully crafted wine. Drink now and through 2021. (92)

Marynissen Nanny’s Blend 2017 (50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Deep purple-ruby in colour; cedary, spicy, blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, plum and redcurrant flavours with an engaging floral top note; lively acidity and ripe tannins. Drink 2021–2023. (89)

Marynissen Pinot Noir 2015
Garnet colour with a tawny rim; lifted, nose of violets and raspberries with oak spice; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, raspberry flavour carried on racy acidity. Beautifully balanced and lively on the palate. Drink now and through 2021. (90)

Marynissen Cabernet Franc 2017
Deep purple colour; lightly floral, plum bouquet with oak spice; medium-bodied, dry, cedary, red plum flavour with zesty acidity and a firm tannic finish. Hold 1–2 years. (89)

Marynissen Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Deep purple in colour; a nose of tobacco, black plum and vanilla notes; medium-bodied, dry, lightly floral, redcurrant and plum flavours. Well-balanced and harmonious with ripe tannins. Hold 1–2 years. (90)


Upper Bench Altitude and Chardonnay

Upper Bench Riesling 2019 (Naramata Bench, Okanagan)
Light straw in colour; floral, grapefruit with a hint of petrol; light to medium-bodied, tangy, tangerine and grapefruit flavours with racy acidity; long and lingering, lemony finish. Drink now or through 2021. (90)

Upper Bench Chardonnay 2018
Light straw colour; toasty, spicy, baked apple nose with a clove-y note; medium-bodied, dry, apple flavour with cinnamon oak spice; harmonious, with well-integrated oak and laser-like acidity and a cashew nut finish. Delicious wine. Drink now or hold 1–2 years. (91)

Upper Bench Gewürztraminer 2018
Straw colour; spicy, lightly floral, minerally bouquet of grapefruit with a note of ginger; medium-bodied, dry, lychee and grapefruit flavour carried on fresh acidity to a bitter almond finish. Drink now or hold for a couple of years for the Gewürz bouquet to become more expressive. (89–90)

Upper Bench Pinot Noir 2016
Deep ruby in colour; cedary, spicy, earthy, plum bouquet with a red licorice note; medium-bodied, dry, ripe black cherry flavour with mellow tannins and a warm alcoholic finish. Drink now or hold for a year to allow the oak to integrate. (89)

Upper Bench Merlot 2016
Dense ruby colour; cedary, floral, mulberry bouquet with oak spice; medium to full-bodied, dry, savoury, sweet black fruit flavours with racy acidity and a firm finish.  You can drink it now but  1–2 years in the cellar will enhance the bouquet and round off the bitter chocolate tannins. (89–91)

Upper Bench Altitude 2015
75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Opaque purple-ruby in colour; cedary, tobacco, blackcurrant bouquet with oak spice and a light floral note; medium to full-bodied, richly extracted flavours of blackcurrant and plum with notes of cinnamon and mocha chocolate. Firmly structured with evident but ripe tannins. Hold 1–2 years. (91–92)

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