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We not too long ago 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 centered on what some could take into account 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 containers of yesteryear, are lengthy behind us. And it could 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 technique to settle down on this warmth than with a glass of Blanc de Blancs, proper? 😎🥂

i4C is now in its ninth yr, and this was our third time attending the celebration, so this yr we determined to take a recent 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 attractive 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! Nevertheless, we didn’t need 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 possibly can say we took an “old fashioned” strategy. 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taking full benefit of the “Judgement of London 2010” tasting at Southbrook Vineyards, which allowed us to style 10+ yr outdated Chardonnays from Ontario (nearly 10 years after an epic displaying in London’s Canada Home).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 be taught extra – concerning the getting older potential of Ontario Chardonnay.

College of Cool

Introduced 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 and marketing themes, accompanied by a collection of tastings. Whereas we had been eager to be taught 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 ebook editor by commerce, Julia is now often known as a “unicorn” for passing her Grasp of Wine examination on the primary attempt, with flying colors. She is properly regarded for her oenological and viticutural data, and is engaged on a refresh of Wine Grapes, which she co-authored with Jancis Robinson. Because the “proper hand lady” to the world’s most esteemed wine critic, Julia is as knowledgable as she is pleasant, and we totally loved her opening remarks to kick off this yr’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 collection of vineyards in south and southwestern England, Julia highlighted the unbelievable glowing wines being produced there and the problem in attaining the identical success and accolades with nonetheless Chardonnay. Excessive labour, land and enter prices, along with temperamental rising situations and comparable choices from across the globe for a decrease retail worth, makes English Chardonnay a tricky promote. Add local weather grow to be the combo and, properly, who is aware of precisely the place it can go. We discovered the parallels to Ontario Chardonnay comparable and dissimilar. Comparable in that there’s a way of respect for custom, issues 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 wonderful examples retailing from $20 to $35, there’s loads for the buyer to take pleasure in (and at a fraction of the worth, 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 certainly one of i4C’s signature occasions, the “College of Cool.” Whereas all three periods (focussed on lees, local weather change and shopper tendencies) had been insightful, the lees session left the most important 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, Companion & Winemaker, Champagne Fresne Ducret and Jean-Laurent (J-L) Groux, Winemaker, Stratus. With such an esteemed panel, we had been to be taught extra about lees, a subject that’s each fascinating and thrilling (although we don’t get that enthusiastic about all yeast, let’s be clear). 

Probably the most primary clarification of much less can 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 ebook it might 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 frequent observe for winemakers Pierre Fresne and J-L Groux, in addition to for Gregory Viennois and Paul Cluver. After all, size of time various and so did takes on whether or not or to not undertake bâtonnage, or stirring of the lees. As with conventional methodology glowing wine, getting older on the lees imparts a brioche character, creaminess and richness. With so many cumulative years of winemaking data shared among the many panel, whether or not from the Champagne, Chablis, South Africa or Ontario, we questioned how a lot perception (and forecasting) is required when interested by your wine “down the road.” We’re not speaking a couple of couple years down the road, we’re pondering 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 attempt it). With conventional methodology glowing wine, winemakers use their data, 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 a degree and time and the place it might go sooner or later, but it surely’s by no means a certain wager. As we discovered from the panel, many elements 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 totally different in 2019, than an identical or identical classic Chardonnay from the Côte d’Or, Elgin in South Africa or the Beamsville Bench right here in Ontario. 

Fascinated with the place we had been in 2009 in comparison with 2019 makes a decade appear each lengthy and brief, 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 might be an excellent place to insert a joke right here about getting older sur lie from all the normal methodology 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 properly represented and held in excessive esteem. Jancis Robinson attended the tasting, and commenting on the range of Ontario’s Chardonnay choices, she made be aware that these wonderful 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 a couple of of her favourites as having their very own persona and nice allure, we’re certain 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.” An exquisite 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 optimistic one for Jancis, nor the Canadian wine business. Issues have come a good distance for each the Canadian wine business and Jancis (who now recurrently 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 discovered, he took initiative and led the cost to prepare the showcase, after being impressed by Ontario Chardonnay’s efficiency at a California versus France Chardonnay tasting a yr 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 need 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 yr!). 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 questioned, how will these seven wines current themselves, now a decade later? As every wine was poured and the tasting flight got here to gentle, we questioned how winemakers selections again in 2007 can be skilled immediately. Will 2007 proceed to shine as a classic? Will the share of recent oak make an enormous distinction in 2019? A few of the seven wines poured are from wineries that not exist, or which have shifted focus utterly. So to have this snapshot in time was a really particular expertise.

Invoice poured the next choice 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 stepping into every in nice element, we are able to safely say that every one however one wine aged gracefully. For the six of the seven that made it to the current day in wonderful kind, we’ll echo Jancis’ feedback that they’ve their very own distinctive allure and persona. For us, the Southbrook’s Poetica continues to shine, with a full of life acidity and baked apple character. Clos Jordanne’s was wealthy, nutty and intense… and we weren’t shocked 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 properly, however with a extra refined 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 choice 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” strategy to reporting on i4C this yr, nonetheless, that actually doesn’t imply we didn’t participate within the different unbelievable signature i4C occasions! 😎 Should you’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 yr! We will Chard’ly wait. 😎