“Every friend that we have made and kept in our travels has inspired this ‘three terroirs’ series: three regions; three wines. The hands, techniques and the palates remain the same, only the terroirs change.” – Thomas Bachelder
Thomas Bachelder is a force of nature. A self-proclaimed “wine gypsy”, he and his wife Mary, have a three terroir concept: make Pinot noir and Chardonnay in three regions, keeping all variables the same aside from location of the grapes. Together, they make wines in Oregon, Burgundy, and Canada. This demonstrates terroir as a simple fact: dirt matters. Sense of place matters.
Thomas’ history in winemaking is impressive. After studying and working in Burgundy, his friend Luisa Ponzi lured Thomas in 1999 to Oregon to work alongside her husband, Eric Hamacher, at Lemelson Winery outside Carlton. Eric was helping to design a stunning new gravity-flow facility, and Thomas was the perfect choice for a founding winemaker capable of making wines reminiscent of Burgundy in the new world.
After Lemelson, Thomas and Mary returned to their roots in Niagara. Hired as the founding winemaker at Le Clos Jordanne, he soon became known for making some of the most heralded Pinot noirs and Chardonnays in Canada.
What is a wine gypsy? Thomas and Mary buy grapes and rent winery space to achieve their concept. The results are excellent. As Thomas points out, the winemaking and philosophy behind the wines in all three regions is similar: he aims at a European elegance while still expressing the personality of the regions. “You can make Oregon elegantly,” he says, giving an example, “but you can’t take the Oregon terroir out of it.”
Bachelder is a master of elevage, and clearly understands the use of extended time in barrel to produce a more complete, articulate wine that speaks to its origin. This wine gypsy has found his path…for now.