Strictly a cool crowd

Ni­a­gara hosts in­ter­na­tional winemakers for Chardon­nay-soaked week­end bash

Windsor Star - - WEEKEND REVIEW - CHRISTO­PHER WA­TERS

Some 63 winemakers from 10 coun­tries are set to par­tic­i­pate in next week’s In­ter­na­tional Cool Cli­mate Chardon­nay Cel­e­bra­tion in Ni­a­gara. The an­nual event brings top winemakers and wine lovers to­gether to hon­our the world’s most pop­u­lar white grape along­side Caber­net Francs, Ga­mays and Pinot Noirs through­out the week­end. In­spired by the In­ter­na­tional Pinot Noir Cel­e­bra­tion in Ore­gon each year, a group of Ni­a­gara winemakers dreamed up a Chardon­nay-soaked week­end that would be a re­fresh­ing mix of ed­u­ca­tional and en­ter­tain­ing events. The goal was to sell more wine, to be sure. But also to make bet­ter wine.

Get a num­ber of winemakers to­gether and there’s bound to be shop talk. Shar­ing knowl­edge about grape grow­ing and wine­mak­ing prac­tices in­evitably pro­motes a deeper un­der­stand­ing of which fac­tors best con­trib­ute to top qual­ity Chardon­nays. When the in­au­gu­ral cel­e­bra­tion was be­ing planned, pre­mium Chardon­nay pro­duc­ers shared con­cerns over the so-called ABC con­sumer who was in­ter­ested in Any­thing But Chardon­nay. It was be­lieved that the pop­u­lar­ity of mass mar­ket Chardon­nays (wines from warm grow­ing re­gions in Aus­tralia, Cal­i­for­nia and else­where) had cre­ated a back­lash against overly oaked and but­tery tast­ing white wines. Cool-cli­mate Chardon­nays bring other char­ac­ter­is­tics to the ta­ble. Fresh­ness and fo­cus, bal­ance and in­ten­sity — qual­ity wine­mak­ing hall­marks wor­thy of be­ing cham­pi­oned. So the first flag-wav­ing cel­e­bra­tion was staged in 2010 and has been held on the third week­end in July ever since.

Eight years on, there has been a stream of pro­duc­ers (190 winer­ies to date) from dif­fer­ent wine re­gions around the world pour­ing and pre­sent­ing their wines to crowds of con­nois­seurs and col­lec­tors as well as ca­sual con­sumers who at­tend the pub­lic tast­ings. A num­ber of in­flu­en­tial writ­ers and wine me­dia have also at­tended the event and re­turned home to broad­cast their in­sights about the qual­ity wines coming out of Canada. This year’s fea­tured guest is New York-based author and writer Jon Bonné, who is slated to speak at this year’s School of Cool mas­ter class tast­ing. “Chardon­nay is one of the most pop­u­lar and fa­mous va­ri­eties around the globe, and I think it’s cru­cial to un­der­stand it’s state of the art. So, I’m ex­cited to come and dis­cuss one of my favourite grapes, and to learn more about the ex­cep­tional work be­ing done in On­tario to pro­duce some world-class ex­am­ples,” said Bonné, who is se­nior con­tribut­ing editor of Punch­drink.com. More in­for­ma­tion about the cel­e­bra­tion is avail­able at coolchardon­nay.org. Christo­pher Wa­ters is the co-founder and editor of Vines, a na­tional con­sumer wine magazine.

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