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Vintages’ Niagara wine release features Chardonnay, just in time for the big i4c celebration of everything Cool Climate Chardonnay

I4c-2012_292A tidy little release of Niagara wines hits the shelves at Vintages Saturday with Chardonnay taking a front-row seat, just in time for the big i4c celebration of all things Chardonnay this weekend.

The International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration will see 58 of the most talented international Chardonnay winemakers from around the world show wine lovers why this is the planet’s most planted (and loved) grape.

i4c-2014-1-0Join 2014 Keynote Speaker Tim Atkin (MW) and thousands of wine enthusiasts as they explore Chardonnay, the culinary creations of the Niagara’s top chefs and stunning Niagara vineyards.

A new culinary dream team of Niagara’s top vineyard chefs will present the new al fresco family style feast at Saturday’s Cool Chardonnay World Tour. Chefs Jason Parsons, Ryan Crawford, Adam Hynam-Smith, Justin Downes, Andrew McLeod, Craig Youdale and Paul Harber will team up with the Canadian Food & Wine Institute and 40 of the region’s best sommeliers to present this feast  at a linen-clad harvest table.

I4c_2013-saturday-grand-event-C_-293-610x407Friday’s Barrels & Bonfires event at 13th Street Winery  will feature 58 winemakers all pouring from barrel tops while guests relax around bonfires and enjoy a country feast and live bands all evening long.

The weekend promises to be alive with activity,  from special tastings at local vineyards to the sumptuous Moveable Feast Brunch Sunday at Ravine.

Visit here for details on the events and how to get tickets.

Also in the release is the delightful Featherstone Sauvignon Blanc 2013, which I just reviewed in a recent previous post here … it is the best SB I have tasted from this Vineland winery, so fresh and balanced and sold at an attractive price of $18.

Here’s what to look for Saturday at Vintages from Niagara (plus a couple of international wines I enjoyed from the release):

13th Street June’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 ($22, 91 points) — I am going to load up on this wonderful and pure expression of Niagara Chardonnay. The nose shows fresh green apple, pear and citrus with flinty minerality swirling around. What you taste is “the soil, the grapes and the kick of a substantial vintage,” says 13th Street sommelier Peter Bodnar Rod. Indeed, it is pure and fresh with a creamy note on the mid-palate all lifted by generous acidity. The fruit is front and centre but has the full support of the vineyard’s limestone minerality. Gorgeous.

11294079995_e2a5a3832eLe Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2011 ($40, 92 points) — Claystone Terrace is contiguous with the top Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard yet turns out wines that are profoundly different. The clay and limestone soils of Claystone help shape the wines that are the most distinct, in my opinion, of the Le Clos portfolio both in the Chards and Pinot Noirs. For 2011, only 10-15% new oak was used for aging with no fining at all. The nose is already rockin’ with McIntosh apple, lemon tart, apricot, soft spice and subtle toast and vanilla. It is a substantive Chardonnay on the palate with weight and power but not at the expense of poise and elegance. The apple-pear fruit melds gorgeously with tropical notes and citrus zest through a lively finish that combines a delicious core of oak and vanilla toast with stony minerality. It is a beautifully integrated wine already with room to improve further with some bottle age.

Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2011 ($30, 92 points) — This is the arguably the best “Village” Chardonnay to emerge from the Le Clos portfolio to date. The Chardonnay grapes were a little less affected by the rains and benefited from a near-perfect growing season for Chardonnay. Such an expressive nose of bright, ripe fruit and subtle oak stylings. Look for poached pear, apple, and lemon cream pie on the nose to go with freshness, stony minerality and lightly toasted spices. With the oak in check, the stone fruits shine on the palate to join the subtle minerality all in near-perfect balance.

cq5dam.web.1280.128013th Street Cuvee 13 Sparkling Brut Rose ($25, 90 points) — There is a lot going on in this nice non-vintage bubbly. Made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, the nose oozes cherry, raspberry, cranberry and pomegranate with a lovely sage-citrus-brioche afterglow. It’s bold and zippy on the palate with a steady, energetic mousse that rides along a racy vein

Rockway Small Lot Block 12-150 Riesling 2012 ($19, 90 points) — Rockway farms its grapes in the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation and you get that sense with the crushed stone minerality on the nose of this Riesling that works well with fresh-squeezed lime, grapefruit, apple and honey. The lime-citrus-apple fruits are joined by ripe stone fruits on the palate with underlying river rock and sweet-tart notes through the finish.

Stratus Kabang Red 2011 ($20, 88 points) — Stratus keeps upping its game with second, third and now a fourth label added to its growing portfolio. The Kabang Red, featuring a label that depicts a man with a cigar in his mouth that has just exploded, combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. It’s Bordeaux meets Rhone with a J.L. Groux twist. It promises fun but really delivers a serious red wine with a nose of savoury dark fruits, bramble, meaty-earthy notes all slathered in peppery spices and cedar. It’s firm and structured on the palate with smoky blackberry and currant fruits to go with cracked peppercorns, minty spices and tannic grip through the finish. Drink after some decanting or save for a year or two.

Stratus Wildass Rose 2013 ($18, 89 points) — Stratus winemaker J.L. Groux has taken this dare-to-be-different Rose in a new direction, blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc (without oak aging) and moving into a fresher style. But he has retained his signature higher alcohol, 14%, which he maintains give this wine its overt aromatics. The nose is rich in red berries with a touch of garden herbs. It has lovely texture on the palate to go with a dry, fresh feel to the ripe strawberry, cherry and herbaceous characters.

Also released, but not reviewed:

Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2011 ($30)
Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2012 ($20)
Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($35)

On the international side, a couple of wines caught my attention:

Montebuena Rioja Cuvee KPF 2012, Spain ($15, 89 points) — Rioja reds are hot right now and this is a nice place to start your love affair with Spanish Tempranillos. It has a bold and fruity nose of blueberry, cherry, kirsch and spice. On the palate look for wildberries, cherries, currants and raspberries with light spice notes and decent structure. Could cellar for a couple of years.

Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2013, East Coast, New Zealand ($19, 88 points) — A nicely balanced and easy drinking Chardonnay from NZ. The nose shows ripe orchard fruit, pineapple and inviting citrus notes. It’s fresh with flavours of peach, pear and tropical fruits. Serve this with pan-seared salmon and lemon wedges. Yum.