A weekend-long bash to celebrate Chardonnay
Sixty-three 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 educational and entertaining events. The goal was to sell more wine, to be sure. But also make better wine.
Get a number of winemakers together and there’s bound to be shoptalk. Sharing knowledge about grape growing and winemaking practices inevitably promotes 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 Yorkbased author and writer Jon Bonné, who is slated to speak at this year’s School of Cool masterclass tasting.
“Chardonnay is one of the most popular and famous varieties around the globe, and I think it’s crucial to understand its 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