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We just lately had the pleasure of attending the 2019 Worldwide Cool Local weather Chardonnay Celebration (i4C), which ran from July 19-21, 2019 in lovely Wine Nation Ontario. With three days of signature occasions all targeted on what some might think about the noblest of white wine grape varieties (sorry Riesling!), i4C brings Chardonnay to the forefront, giving it the highlight it deserves. The ABC (“Something However Chardonnay”) days, which manifested themselves in response to the oak chip butter bomb packing containers of yesteryear, are lengthy behind us. And it might not be summer time in Wine Nation Ontario with out the chance to dive deep into the cool waters of cool local weather Chardonnay. What higher option to calm down on this warmth than with a glass of Blanc de Blancs, proper? 😎🥂

i4C is now in its ninth 12 months, and this was our third time attending the celebration, so this 12 months we determined to take a contemporary perspective on our favorite occasion of the summer time. In previous years, we approached i4C with a glowing focus, spending our time tasting Blanc de Blancs from internationally and diving deep into the gorgeous VQA glowing Chardonnay from Ontario. In any case, as a cool local weather winemaking area, there’s a lot to say about Ontario glowing wine! Nonetheless, we didn’t wish to repeat ourselves and so we felt we had a little bit of a carte blanc… err, we imply, carte blanche! 😜

So, what had been two Glowing Winos to do? 🤔

Nicely, within the spirit of celebrating some milestones ourselves, we had been feeling reflective, considerably older and wiser, and you can say we took an “old-fashioned” method. First, by making it a precedence to attend i4C’s “College of Cool” periods. And second, by taking full benefit of the “Judgement of London 2010” tasting at Southbrook Vineyards, which allowed us to style 10+ 12 months previous Chardonnays from Ontario (nearly 10 years after an epic exhibiting in London’s Canada Home). Collectively, these periods emphasised age (sur lie, or on the lees, and in bottle) and we had been curious – and really excited to study extra – concerning the getting older potential of Ontario Chardonnay.

College of Cool

Offered by VQA Wines of Ontario, the Wine Advertising and marketing Affiliation of Ontario and the Grape Growers of Ontario, The College of Cool is a joint session focussed viticultural, winemaking and advertising themes, accompanied by a sequence of tastings. Whereas we had been eager to study all about lees from moderator Eugene Mlynczyk, MW and an esteemed panel of scientists, winemakers and technical administrators, we had been additionally excited to listen to Julia Harding, MW ship the keynote handle. A longtime guide editor by commerce, Julia is now generally known as a “unicorn” for passing her Grasp of Wine examination on the primary strive, with flying colors. She is effectively regarded for her oenological and viticutural information, and is engaged on a refresh of Wine Grapes, which she co-authored with Jancis Robinson. Because the “proper hand girl” to the world’s most esteemed wine critic, Julia is as knowledgable as she is pleasant, and we completely loved her opening remarks to kick off this 12 months’s i4C. Like us, Julia made the purpose: what new subjects can we focus on after 9 years of i4C? 

Seems, that Julia had a lot to remain about Chardonnay and it’s rising potential across the globe, together with in Nice Britain. Focussing on a sequence of vineyards in south and southwestern England, Julia highlighted the unbelievable glowing wines being produced there and the problem in reaching the identical success and accolades with nonetheless Chardonnay. Excessive labour, land and enter prices, along with temperamental rising circumstances and comparable choices from across the globe for a decrease retail worth, makes English Chardonnay a troublesome promote. Add local weather grow to be the combination and, effectively, who is aware of precisely the place it’s going to go. We discovered the parallels to Ontario Chardonnay comparable and dissimilar. Related in that there’s a way of respect for custom, considerations about local weather problem and dedication to high quality, however dissimilar in that the worth proposition of Ontario Chardonnay is a little more… apparent? With glorious examples retailing from $20 to $35, there’s loads for the buyer to get pleasure from (and at a fraction of the value, in comparison with many European cool local weather areas producing wines of the identical calibre). However, we digress. 😜

With temperatures heating up throughout Wine Nation Ontario, issues positively cooled down thanks partly to one in every of i4C’s signature occasions, the “College of Cool.” Whereas all three periods (focussed on lees, local weather change and shopper developments) had been insightful, the lees session left the largest impression on us. Moderated by Eugene Mlynczyk, MW, the session introduced collectively Benoît Marsan, Worldwide wine chemistry teacher Université du Québec à Montréal, Gregory Viennois, Technical Director, Domaine Laroche, Paul Cluver, Director, Paul Cluver Wines, Pierre Fresne, Accomplice & Winemaker, Champagne Fresne Ducret and Jean-Laurent (J-L) Groux, Winemaker, Stratus. With such an esteemed panel, we had been to study extra about lees, a subject that’s each attention-grabbing and thrilling (although we don’t get that enthusiastic about all yeast, let’s be clear). 

Essentially the most primary clarification of much less could be leftover yeast particles within the wine. They’re leftover from autoloysis, the place enzymes created throughout fermentation kill the yeast. Sounds dramatic, and possibly if illustrated in a comic book guide it may very well be, however for Chardonnay (nonetheless and glowing) this provides scrumptious textures and flavours. Growing old of wine on lees, then, enhances its sensory traits.

Mentioned in depth by the panel, getting older on the lees, or sur lie, was widespread observe for winemakers Pierre Fresne and J-L Groux, in addition to for Gregory Viennois and Paul Cluver. After all, size of time different and so did takes on whether or not or to not undertake bâtonnage, or stirring of the lees. As with conventional technique glowing wine, getting older on the lees imparts a brioche character, creaminess and richness. With so many cumulative years of winemaking information shared among the many panel, whether or not from the Champagne, Chablis, South Africa or Ontario, we puzzled how a lot perception (and forecasting) is required when eager about your wine “down the road.” We’re not speaking a couple of couple years down the road, we’re considering a decade. And no, not as a result of J-L’s glowing at Stratus continues to be being held, after ten years on the lees (although, we are able to’t wait to lastly strive it). With conventional technique glowing wine, winemakers use their information, previous expertise and infrequently instances greatest guess as to what their bubbly can be like when it hits the cabinets. Occasional tasting will assist decide the place the wine is at some extent and time and the place it might go sooner or later, but it surely’s by no means a positive guess. As we realized from the panel, many components influence the wine’s getting older potential – from the standard and character of the wine itself, the winemaking strategies and storage. Easy, proper? Nicely, not so easy … since a 2009 Grand Cru Chablis can be very completely different in 2019, than an analogous or similar classic Chardonnay from the Côte d’Or, Elgin in South Africa or the Beamsville Bench right here in Ontario. 

Excited about the place we had been in 2009 in comparison with 2019 makes a decade appear each lengthy and quick, and making use of the identical lens to Chardonnay or Blanc de Blancs results in extra questions (maybe it’s as a result of we’re getting older too, who is aware of). This is able to be a superb place to insert a joke right here about getting older sur lie from all the normal technique glowing wine we style, however we’ll spare you.

Judgement of London

With getting older potential of Chardonnay on our minds, we had been fortunate sufficient to participate within the “Judgement of London 2010” at Southbrook Vineyards, in Niagara-on-the-Lake as a part of i4C. 

So, what precisely was the “Judgement of London”?

Nicely, again in Might 2010 at Canada Home in London, United Kingdom, a showcase of Ontario’s most interesting Chardonnays came about. In whole, twenty two Canadian wineries had been represented on the “Judgement of London,” and Ontario shone by way of. From the Niagara Peninsula to Prince Edward County, VQA Ontario Chardonnay was effectively represented and held in excessive esteem. Jancis Robinson attended the tasting, and commenting on the variety of Ontario’s Chardonnay choices, she made notice that these effective wines characterize a broad spectrum of kinds however that Burgundian affect is powerful. She famous that the very best of those wines had been delicate and dense in flavour, benefitting from a profitable 2007 classic. Citing just a few of her favourites as having their very own character and nice allure, we’re positive the winemakers there have been more than happy. Within the subsequent Monetary Occasions article, Jancis extolled that “Ontario’s greatest Chardonnays can maintain their very own with the world’s most interesting.” A beautiful assertion for a rising wine area, and made ever the extra sweeter contemplating a not-so-sweet preliminary expertise.

Jancis Robinson’s first skilled wine tasting was on Canadian wine at Canada Home in London again in 1976, when she started as a secretary at a wine publication. Apparently, none of her colleagues felt it was a worthy tasting to attend. She attended anyway however the expertise was not a constructive one for Jancis, nor the Canadian wine trade. Issues have come a great distance for each the Canadian wine trade and Jancis (who now usually tastes Canadian wine and has mentioned beautiful issues about our wines, as we’ve seen). 

To say that Southbrook proprietor Invoice Redelmeier attended the “Judgement of London 2010” is an understatement. As we realized, he took initiative and led the cost to arrange the showcase, after being impressed by Ontario Chardonnay’s efficiency at a California versus France Chardonnay tasting a 12 months prior. With different “judgements” launching wine areas or wine kinds into world consciousness, we are able to’t assist however suppose that this too motivated the winemakers of Ontario. Who doesn’t wish to be acknowledged and hopefully exported throughout the globe, proper?

So, right here we had been at Southbrook for i4C, with Invoice’s anecdotes, delivered with a mix of pleasure and restraint (from a chilly, on the most popular day of the 12 months!). It was a pleasure to have Invoice take us on a journey again in time, pouring seven of the wines initially showcased on the “Judgement of London 2010.” 

With age on our minds, we puzzled, how will these seven wines current themselves, now a decade later? As every wine was poured and the tasting flight got here to mild, we puzzled how winemakers selections again in 2007 could be skilled at present. Will 2007 proceed to shine as a classic? Will the proportion of latest oak make an enormous distinction in 2019? A few of the seven wines poured are from wineries that now not exist, or which have shifted focus fully. So to have this snapshot in time was a really particular expertise.

Invoice poured the next collection of wines:

  • Southbrook Poetica, 2007
  • Trius Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, 2008
  • Clos Jordanne Chardonnay, 2006
  • Hidden Bench Chardonnay, 2008
  • Cave Spring Chardonnay, 2007
  • Penninsula Ridge Chardonnay, 2008
  • Tawse Chardonnay, 2007

With out entering into every in nice element, we are able to safely say that each one however one wine aged gracefully. For the six of the seven that made it to the current day in effective type, we’ll echo Jancis’ feedback that they’ve their very own distinctive allure and character. For us, the Southbrook’s Poetica continues to shine, with a vigorous acidity and baked apple character. Clos Jordanne’s was wealthy, nutty and intense… and we weren’t stunned it has held its personal, down the road. Cave Springs’ 2007 Chardonnay retained a lot of its acidity and regardless of its richness, its mineral character made it distinct among the many lineup. Tawse’s 2007 Chardonnay was distinctive within the line up as effectively, however with a extra delicate minerality and freshness. For us, although, the standout was the Hidden Bench 2008 Chardonnay, which continues to shine with its electrical acidity, lovely fruity and nutty character and total steadiness. Because the tasting progressed, we saved going again to understand it in all its glory. What a cool expertise, to say the least!   

And, for those who’re questioning, Jancis revealed a collection of her favourites, together with the Southbrook Poetica, Le Clos Jordanne’s Chardonnay and Tawse’s 2007 Chardonany. To see these maintain up elegantly, regardless of their age, goes to indicate that VQA Ontario wine has grown in leaps and bounds, and continues its dedication to high quality. 

Thanks for studying! ☺️

You deserve a pleasant crisp glass of cool local weather Chardonnay! 😉 We hope you loved our “old-fashioned” method to reporting on i4C this 12 months, nevertheless, that definitely doesn’t imply we didn’t participate within the different unbelievable signature i4C occasions! 😎 If you happen to’ve been maintaining with us on Instagram you’ll know we had the possibility to attend Flights of Chardonnay (our favorite!), The Cool Chardonnay World Tour Tasting & Dinner, and the Moveable Feast Brunch at Ravine! And we even captured the occasions throughout an Instagram Takeover for @WineCountryOnt. So we’ll depart you with a few of our favorite images from the weekend. For extra about i4C, go to coolchardonnay.org. We hope to see you there subsequent 12 months! We will Chard’ly wait. 😎