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Burgundy Giant Plans Joint-Venture Pinot Noir From Canada

Konrad Ejbich
Posted: February 26, 2000

Boisset, France's largest Burgundy producer, and Vincor International Inc., Canada's largest wine company, have joined forces to produce a high-end Pinot Noir in Ontario, Canada--a region known mainly for its white wines, and particularly its ice wines.

The two giants--who have each committed to investing about $750,000 in the project--have jointly purchased a 77-acre parcel on the Niagara Peninsula, about 20 miles west of Niagara Falls, Ontario. The estate is to be named Le Clos Jordan.

Boisset is the first foreign wine-producer to make a major investment in Canada. "It's an exciting day for Niagara," said Don Triggs, CEO of Vincor, the parent company of Canada's well-known Inniskillin winery. "The fact that Boisset chose Ontario is a testimonial to the potential of the region."

"We could have invested anywhere," added Jean-Charles Boisset, vice-president of the French firm. "We searched the globe from Argentina to New Zealand and ultimately decided that this was the most perfect piece of land for soil analysis, exposure and climatic similarity to Burgundy."

Thirty-five acres of the property will be planted this spring. The remaining acreage, which is protected forest and woodlands, shelters the vineyard on three sides. Additional land has been leased from a neighboring farm and will be replanted, bringing the total acres of vines to 61.

The partners have selected eight clones of Pinot Noir and will follow the traditional Burgundian practice of high-density planting. A small percentage of Chardonnay also will be grown. If all goes according to plan, the first Le Clos Jordan wines will be released in 2005. Prices have not yet been set, but total production is expected to reach 10,000 to 12,000 cases, most of which will be sold in Canada and the United States.

The Boisset family holds controlling interest in some of the oldest and best-known Burgundy houses, including Bouchard Anni, Jaffelin, Ropiteau Frhres, Mommessin, J. Moreau & Fils and Pierre Ponnelle, and the company produces about 5.5 million cases annually.

Boisset's experience with Canadian wine goes back at least six years, when Jaffelin winemaker Bernard Repolt began to consult on production of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the now-discontinued Allmance brand, with Karl Kaiser at Vincor's Inniskillin winery.

Vincor, a publicly traded company, also produces 5.5 million cases per year. It operates wineries in four Canadian provinces and, in addition to Inniskillin, owns the Brights, Cartier, Jackson-Triggs, Okanagan Vineyards and Sawmill Creek brands.

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Check out recent ratings of Canadian reds, whites and dessert wines.

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