A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 774: Tasting in the Bat Cave

The inimitable Thomas Bachelder

Thomas Bachelder’s Niagara Chardonnays & Pinots

“It’s good to talk ancient history with you guys because my head’s still in 2020.”

Thomas Bachelder hosted Rick Van Sickle and me in his tasting room at 3999 Locust Lane in Beamsville. He calls it his “bat cave” and it’s here that he raises his single vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. The tasting was what he calls his “Toussaints Release” of the range of 2018 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

But the first wine we tasted was a Chardonnay blend of several of his preferred vineyards – Winfield, Willms and Wismer Foxcroft, labelled as les Villages:

Bachelder Les Villages Chardonnay 2018
Bright, golden straw colour; lightly floral, apple nose with beautifully integrated oak; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, apple flavour with a gentle toasty note and a hint of bitterness on the finish for added interest. (90)

Bachelder Willms Chardonnay 1983 Plantation Old Vines 2018
Golden straw in colour; lightly toasty nose of apple and apricot with undergrowth notes; medium-bodied, crisply dry and mouth-filling and firmly structured. Very Côte de Beaune in style. (91)

Bachelder Wismer-Foxcroft ‘Nord’ Chardonnay 2018
Golden straw colour; earthy, minerally, spicy, apple bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, rich on the palate and mouth-filling apple flavour with a light toastiness and great length. (92)

Bachelder Wismer-Wingfield Ouest Chardonnay 2018
Golden straw colour; minerally, spicy, lightly oaked, apple bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, still tight but elegant, fresh and lingering (90–92)

Bachelder Chardonnays

Bachelder Pinot Noirs

Bachelder Wismer-Parke Pinot Noir 2018
Ruby colour; lightly floral (violets), meaty, toasty, plum bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, intense, plum and cherry flavours; firmly structured, lovely mouth-feel with a warm alcoholic finish. (92)

Bachelder Wismer-Parke ‘Wild West End’ Pinot Noir 2018
Ruby colour; rust, raspberry, undergrowth and violets on the nose; medium-boded, dry, richly extracted, elegant, beautifully balanced with well-integrated oak; firmly structured with ripe tannins. Reminiscent of a Gevrey-Chambertin. (93)

Bachelder Lowrey Old Vines Pinot Noir 2018
Medium ruby in colour; rust, black raspberry and violets on the nose; medium-bodied, richly extracted, firmly structured with evident but ripe tannins. Volnay-style. (92)

Bachelder Lowrey Pinot Noir 1984 Plantation Old Vines 2018
Medium ruby colour; barnyard and raspberry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, candied raspberry flavour; richly extracted, silky mouth-feel, Volnay-style, firmly structured. A great wine! (94).

Other wines tasted:

Mission Hill Merlot Reserve 2017 (Okanagan Valley; $31.95, Vintages #553313)
Dense ruby-purple colour; cedary, plum nose with vanilla oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted plum flavour backed by oak spice with a minty finish augmented by dusty tannins. (89)

Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (California, $19.95, Vintages #38034)
Deep ruby in colour; cedar, spic blackcurrant and black cherry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, savoury black fruit flavours; well-balanced, nicely integrated oak with a fresh finish; firmly structured. (91)

Conundrum 2018 ($24.95, California; Vintages #294298)
A blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense purple in colour; spicy tobacco, plum with a floral note; full-bodied, sweetish, spicy, vanilla plum, chocolate and clove flavours; creamy mouth-feel but firmly structured and voluptuous. (88.5)

Aboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Valle de Aconcagua, $19.95, Vintages #606764)
Deep ruby colour; cedary, blackcurrant bouquet; medium to full-bodied, dry, blackcurrant and bitter chocolate flavours; firmly structured with grainy but ripe tannins and a coffee bean finish. (90)

Attems Pinot Grigio 2018 (Friuli, $19.95, Vintages #707950)
Bright and shining pale straw in colour; minerally, lemon zest nose; medium-bodied, dry, white peach flavour; beautifully balanced and elegant. Lovely mouth-feel. What Pinot Grigio should taste like! (91)

Attems Pinot Grigio 2018

Malivoire Bisous Brut (Ontario, $34.95)
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Bight, pale straw colour; active mousse of tiny bubbles; brioche nose, lightly toasty; light to medium-bodied, crisply dry, green apple and lemon flavours; lively mouth-feel with great length. (91)

Malivoire Bisous Brut

Malivoire Farmstead Gamay 2019 (Beamsville Bench, Niagara, $17.95, Vintages Essentials)
Medium ruby in colour; cherry bouquet with notes of black pepper; medium-bodied, dry and fruity, fresh cherry flavour with a pepper finish. (89)

Malivoire Small Lot Chardonnay 2019 (Beamsville Bench, $21.95)
Straw colour; toasty, spicy, vanilla scented, pineapple nose; medium-bodied, broad on the palate with apple, green pineapple and lemon flavours; fresh, lemony finish. (88.5)

Kacaba Rebecca Rosé 2019 (Niagara Peninsula)
Made from Gamay Noir grapes. Deep salmon colour; strawberry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, well-balanced, strawberry and cranberry flavours finishing crisply. (89)

Kacaba Rebecca Rosé 2019

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