Every summer I now look forward to the i4C weekend, that is the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration that takes place in Niagara, and is happening this weekend, from the 20th to the 22nd of July.
There are always so many events to look forward to, and here I’ll pick my two favourites from this year’s schedule, and give you my thoughts on four cracking Ontario Chardonnays that are part of this year’s lineup or wines that will be poured.
Details about the entire weekend’s events can be found right here.
First up is the more academically leaning School Of Cool at White Oaks Resort on Friday the 20th from 7.30am (ouch!) until 5pm. This year all three sessions sound pretty damn interesting, and you can expect some stellar wines to be poured alongside the ongoing commentaries.
Tickets are still available here for $150 for the day.
Highly recommended by Good Food Revolution, as this year’s sessions sound simply superb.
Now I would simply love to recommend the Flights Of Chardonnay at Niagara District Airport on the Friday evening from 7pm to 11pm, but it appears that the secret is out that this is the best value event of the entire weekend.
Tickets are currently SOLD OUT, but if the weather remains fine there will be another block of tickets released, so add your name to the waiting list here. You certainly won’t regret it.
The last couple of years have proven themselves to be such great fun, with Chardonnay galore and some excellent food from a plethora of Niagara Chefs… and there’s craft beer at the end of the night if you still find yourself feeling thirsty!
Here are some of my top picks from the amazing lineup of wines that will be poured over the weekend:
2013 Tawse “Robyn’s Block” Chardonnay, 20 Mile Bench VQA, Ontario (12% Alcohol) Winery $46.15 (750ml bottle)
Always a firm favourite of mine, the Robyn’s Block is for me one of the best Chardonnays we make here in Ontario. This slightly older bottling is beginning to evolve quite deliciously. There’s a fair bit of reduction on the nose, but that tends to blow off after some time in the glass. The nose and palate are both rich and generous, with some terrific pineapple aromatics and flavours complemented by some warm oak spice (14 months in French oak cooperage), and as a whole the wine has the most amazing energy and poise.
(Four and half apples out of a possible five)
2015 Hidden Bench “Felseck Vineyard”Chardonnay, Beamsville Bench VQA, Ontario (13% Alcohol) Winery $39.20 (750ml bottle)
This release is one of the real highlights of this year’s i4C for me. There’s something about this wine that is just so complete from beginning to end. From its firm, ripe, crisp attack, through a superbly satisfying mid-palate, to a longingly persistent and mineral-focused finish. For me the nose is all about perfectly baked Tarte Tatin, with lovely warm baking spices. There’s a serious acid profile layered within this wine’s richness, making it one of my favourite Ontario Chardonnays in quite some time. Gorgeous,
(Five apples out of a possible five)
2015 Ravine Vineyard “Reserve” Chardonnay, St. David’s Bench VQA, Ontario (13.5% Alcohol) Winery $55 (750ml bottle)
I found the nose of this to be extremely Chablisienne with loads of wet stone that made it most appealing. There’s also a lot of green apple, lemon, and, as it warms up, there’s a hint of pineapple. There’s a touch more alcohol on this, which speaks to the St. David’s Bench sub-appellation, but everything is very much in balance with the lovely ripe fruit and linear acidity. There’s a terrific mushroom note of the finish too. A fine outing for this consistently excellent winery.
(Four apples out of a possible five)
2016 Westcott “Estate” Chardonnay, Vinemount Ridge VQA, Ontario (13.2% Alcohol) Winery $27.95 (750ml bottle)
I visited Westcott winery for the very first time last year with Dr. Jamie Goode and David Lawrason, and was massively impressed by their endeavours with both Chardonnay and Pinot up on Vinemount Ridge. This 2016 Estate bottling is a great example of the potential of Chardonnay on this site. There’s a whole load of stewed apples going on here, this some very attractive nuances of toast and sun-warmed ripe peaches. The palate is quite round and giving, but with a pleasant and refreshing acidity brining finesse and balance. I’d like to taste it again in a few years to see how it develops.
(Four apples out of a possible five)
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he hopes to see you there!