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Some cool Chardonnays released at Vintages in advance of i4C in Niagara July 17-19


To get you fully in the mood for the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Festival (i4C) that runs from July 17-19 in Niagara, Vintages is releasing a few cool Chardonnays on Saturday July 11.

Winemakers from all corners of the globe will congregate in Niagara for the annual i4C event beginning July 17.

The three-day festival of wine and culinary excellence has inspired an annual pilgrimage of wine-lovers, media and producers of the world’s best cool climate Chardonnay to the vineyards of Niagara.

I4c_2014_2Wine Spectator contributor Matt Kramer returns to Niagara for the special 5th anniversary celebration. Kramer was the keynote speaker at the inaugural i4C weekend in 2011, and is excited at the prospect of interacting with the wines and professionals of Wine Country Ontario five years later.

Kramer will preside over The School of Cool on July 17, a series of sessions that will bring international perspectives to viticulture and winemaking in cool climate regions, with a special feature on sparkling Chardonnay.

“To return to the International Cool Climate Conference is a great privilege. Ontario wines are the epitome of cool climate, which puts them right on the cutting edge. I’m anxious to taste the latest, as quality keeps surging, seemingly with every new vintage,” said Matt Kramer, Wine Writer and Columnist at Wine Spectator.

The feature event of the weekend is the Cool Chardonnay World Tour, the only event of the weekend where all 121 wines of the Celebration are available to taste and are poured by their makers.

On Saturday, July 18, the culinary program will rival the impressive lineup of wines. A culinary “dream team” of Niagara’s top vineyard chefs — including Jason Parsons, Ryan Crawford, Craig Youdale, Andrew McLeod, Justin Downes and Adam Hynam-Smith — will present an al fresco family-style feast following the Grand Tasting.

The weekend concludes with the perennial favourite event of i4C weekend — The Moveable Feast. The chefs at Ravine Vineyard invite their favourite artisan producers to join them amongst the vines, where they sip and bid farewell to our international winemakers.

Full weekend details and tickets are available here.

In the meantime, here’s what to look for in the Vintages release on July 11.


Pearl Morissette Cuvée DixNeuvième Chardonnay 2012 ($35, 93 points) — A far different style here than the 11 with a tighter nose that’s just beginning to show citrus, apple, grilled pineapple, lemon chiffon, lanolin and spice notes. It’s generous on the palate and builds as it opens up with a range of fruit flavours and a nutty note on the finish. Age for 10+ years and this, I suspect, will be a different wine all entirely.

Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2012 ($25, 91 points) — Rusty Shed represents an expression of the best parcels of Chardonnay from the best barrels made from estate fruit. This is robust and generous on the nose with notes of poached pear, baked apple, lemon, mineral and toasted vanilla spice. It has lovely texture on the palate to go with apple, brioche, pear, smoke and a pure vein of minerality. It’s rich, no doubt, but maintains finesse and elegance through the finish.

From Burgundy (with a Niagara connection)


Bachelder La Grande Chatelaine Cote de Beaune 2011 ($35, 89 points) — Not the star of Niagara winemaker Thomas Bachelder’s Burgundy collection but an attractive wine that shows lovely minerality and ripe pear-apple aromas on the nose to go with subtle spice notes. The intricate minerality and freshness steals the show on the palate with quince fruit and a deft touch with the oak completing the package. Quite seamless and balanced.

Other wines released Saturday

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2013 ($18, 89 points) — The Sketches Riesling is a blend of fruit sourced from sustainably-farmed vineyards in Niagara. The nose is expressive with grapefruit, lime and mineral notes. It’s taut and lively on the palate with fresh lemon-lime, a touch of sweetness and laser-sharp acidity.

henry-of-pelham-reserve-baco-noir-2011-192635-label-1401116856-202x300Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2012 ($25, 90 points) — This estate tier Baco from Henry of Pelham shows this varietal at its best. The Speck brothers apply extended maturation and vigorous cap management during fermentation to extract natural and rich fruit. The wine is aged for 15 months in a combination of new and one- to two-year-old American oak. The nose displays spicy raspberry-cherry fruit, a dollop of blueberry jam, wood spices, leather and a touch of smoky black currants. It shows great concentration on the palate with rich cassis and currant fruit to go with rousing spice notes and ripe tannins.

Tawse Gamay Noir 2011 ($19, 89 points) — A nose of pure raspberry fruit with cherry accents and subtle forest floor. It’s wonderfully fresh and soft on the palate with juicy red fruits, light oak and a lick of licorice on the finish. The ultimate porch sipper? Yes.

Other Niagara wines being released but not reviewed:

  • Creekside Cabernet Rose 2014 ($15)
  • Reif Estate Reserve Merlot 2012 ($26)
  • Westcott Lillias Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 ($20)
  • Creekside Estate Laura’s Red 2012 ($20)
  • Sunnybrook Redhaven Peach Wine 2013 ($17)
  • Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2012 ($25)
  • Strewn Terroir Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($20)