Taking many a palate by surprise, a Niagara wine has clinched top honours in a taste test sponsored by a Quebec wine magazine.

The editor-in-chief of Cellier wanted to pit French wines against those from California to see if the Golden State would outperform France’s famous Bordeaux and Burgundy regions according to a group of Quebec connoisseurs, who tend to fancy wines from the motherland.

The judges selected three French wines for the top spots among 16 Cabernet Sauvignons in a blind taste test, but Marc Chapleau decided to add a little twist to the competition.

Chapleau slipped a Niagara wine along with vintages from Australia and New Zealand into the Chardonnay competition without the judges knowing.

A $37.50 bottle of Niagara’s Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace 2005 ended up beating 13 other brands — most of them from France and California.

“It happened that the Niagara wine took the first place which is very surprising and I'm sure they’re going to rejoice,” Chapleau said.

“It’s a first ever.”

Thomas Bachelder, Le Clos Jordanne’s winemaker and vineyard manager, happened to be in Quebec City for a promotional tasting when he saw the article in Cellier’s summer edition released Thursday.

“We were shocked,” he said in an interview. “We had the wind knocked out of us when we heard.”

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