An Emerging Fine Wine Region to Know: Niagara

Winemaker Thomas Bachelder has made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Oregon and Burgundy and earned a reputation for finesse among wine writers all over the world, but in the past ten years, he has shifted his focus to Niagara, Canada where Master Sommelier John Szabo says he is “evidently on a monk’s errand to map out the (Niagara) escarpment with Burgundian-like precision.” Here he tells us about why he is so excited about this emerging wine region.

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Niagara falls falls from a limestone bench it falls from an escarpment it has eroded back in a gorge but that escarpment is 400 kilometers long that escarpment is close to the lake and warmed up by this vast lake the french when they come to visit us in niagara they think hey i didn’t know we’re on the atlantic because they can’t see across it so the lake is a huge influence the soils are limestone there’s a lot of humidity though it’s tough to grow organically there which is something i like to do so niagara is an up-and-coming region it’s where i make wine in niagara is further south than when i make it in burgundy or oregon we’re almost at northern california in latitude well below eugene oregon anything niagara does uh tastes a bit mid-atlantic because of the limestone and because of the cool climate so if you love sauvignon blanc okay sauvignon blanc in niagara tastes more like saucer than new zealand pinot noir and niagara tastes more like burgundy than oregon does if i was going to visit niagara i would mostly visit the bench the bench is limestone there’s a route along the bench the escarpment road that’s like the route des grands crus in burgundy and it’s really starting to happen it’s cool climate viticulture but it’s also continental so it’s a climate of extremes

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