Every year I’m pretty successful in convincing more and more people to take some time out of their busy schedules for some i4C, the International Cool Climate Celebration that has take place in Niagara since 2011. Over these years it’s become the essential event for anyone with a passion for great wine.
It’s always a pretty special few days, and this year looks as if it is going to be yet another mind (and palate) expanding journey into the wild world of cool climate Chardonnay (as well as a few other companion cool climate varietals… and a frothy splash of craft beer).
School Of Cool
AKA The really serious bit
Friday, July 19 7:30 am – 5:00 pm at White Oaks Resort $150 (price includes lunch and networking session)
Although it’s often a painfully early start for many (especially if they have been working the night before!), the School Of Cool has grown to become the benchmark for top quality wine seminars.
The day is simply jam-packed with information, from this year’s keynote speech by Master Of Wine Julia Harding, to a triumvirate of panel led tasting sessions detailed below.
Session 1: Everything you ever wanted to know about LEES but were afraid to ask
Session 2: It’s not just the heat, it’s the volatility: Weather volatility and the impact on Chardonnay production.
Session 3: The Changing Faces of Chardonnay: How are consumer’s tastes and perceptions changing around cool climate Chardonnay styles?
Industry Networking Session
AKA The “must attend” for anyone in the industry
Friday, July 19 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm at White Oaks Resort $35
It’s always a pity that so many Toronto restaurant folks have to jet off after the School Of Cool to get back for service, as the networking session is when things really start to get interesting, with panelists, winemakers, media, and sommeliers letting off a bit of steam after a full day of academic Chardonnay study ; I have personally witnessed many a friendly heated debate centred around the topics of the day over the years.
Just remember to bring some sunscreen and/or a hat as well as some sunglasses, as invariably things spill out into the gardens at White Oaks, and I’ve found myself with quite severe sunstroke upon a couple of occasions.
Flights Of Chardonnay
AKA The best value event by a country mile
Friday, July 19 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm Niagara District Airport, Niagara-On-The-Lake $65
I still remember my first Flights Of Chardonnay at the airport as if it were yesterday. Despite the bad pun, whoever had the wherewithal to come up with using this great venue for such an event is an absolute genius.
$65 gets you the opportunity to rub shoulders/cheers with all of the i4C winemakers from all over the world and, of course, taste their wares. It really is rather fantastic to have so many truly top notch Chardonnays under one hanger’s roof.
Oh, and after 9pm they roll out the craft beer… always a welcome respite after an entire day of Chardonnay.
Food from a variety of superb local restaurants is available for purchase.
Cool Chardonnay World Tour Tasting and/or Dinner
AKA The “smart” event
Saturday, July 20 6:00 pm – 12:00 am at Niagara College, Niagara-On-The-Lake – Tasting portion $75, Dinner is SOLD OUT
If you have never tasted and dined in the leafy environs of Niagara College then you are really missing out on something in life. This event brings out not only your industry types but also Niagara “society”, many done up to the nines for what has earned its place as the epicurean event of the summer.
Pro Tip : Don’t go shopping at Bass Pro for hunting stuff just beforehand as security check your bags upon entry, and you may provoke some very strange looks as you try to prove that you are not a nutter.
Moveable Feast Brunch
AKA Nursing one’s Chardonnay hangover with more Chardonnay, albeit fizzy stuff
Sunday, July 21 11:00 am – 2:00 pm at Ravine Vineyards $89
Just when you thought you couldn’t as much as look at another glass of Chardonnay for a good few weeks, along comes Ravine’s Chardonnay brunch… and what a brunch it is.
Chef Matt Payne and his culinary team present a veritable smorgasbord of everything good and local, alongside lashings of Chardonnay-based sparkling.
It’s always the perfect way to round off your i4C experience.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s looking forward to this year’s edition very much.