I’m off to to Niagara this weekend with many other wine fanatics who do not subscribe to the wine world’s ‘ABC’ that is Anything But Chardonnay. World-class wines will be on show! In case you can’t make the trip, why not check out this week’s offerings at LCBO Vintages for the July 19 release, you can get your fill of Chardonnay at your local LCBO.
I have never understood why one grape variety can create two different camps…those who like drinking Chardonnay wines and those who won’t ever touch a bottle with that word on it. I think it began when Chardonnays were introduced as big bold full bodied white wines that had been aged in oak barrels until they tasted predominantly of buttered popcorn, oak and vanilla (classic aromas & taste characteristics of heavily oak aged wines). But I have caught ABC-ers who like Chablis (which is unoaked Chardonnay) or Blanc de Blanc sparkling wines (made with 100 per cent Chardonnay).
I admit that I subscribe not to ‘ABC’ but to the ‘DEFG’ Definitely Everything (made) From Grapes. There are so many wines, why limit yourself.
This weekend is the 4th annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (aka i4C). Yes another acronym. I left the high tech world because of all of the acronyms were confusing and found that the wine industry used few. So this weekend’s i4C in Niagara is an exception to that rule and promises to be an exceptional wine weekend.
Imagine an afternoon that will carry into the evening of only Chardonnay wines. I can’t wait to discover all of the different ways Chardonnay is used. Winemakers from all over the world will congregate in Niagara to showcase their Chardonnays at events that include bonfires & pig roasts, lunch in the vineyard, Sunday brunch and a “Grand Tasting”. This is my first time to i4C and stay tuned for Tweets & my next blog to let you know how the weekend unfolds.
Until then, these are my picks of Chardonnay & other summer time sippers that you will want to pick up from Vintages this weekend.
If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…
July 19, 2014
Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia
$25.95 (Vintages #256289) 7% alcohol
A refreshing wine with a slight fizz. Just enough bubbles to tempt you to serve it with brunch or to sip on as you get ready for a BBQ. We recently poured this unique white wine as a ‘welcoming wine’ for our 1st annual Celebrate Red & White! It was a huge hit. A blend made with 100% NS grapes (The primary grape is New York Muscat with Chardonnay, l’Acadie Blanc, Seyval, Perle, and others. Each vintage is a little different as a reflection of the NS growing season and what Mother Nature brought the winemaking team at Benjamin Bridge). This beautiful copper hued colour has refreshing racy flavors that resembles rhubarb.
$14.95, (Vintages #262097) 13.5% alcohol
The Zuccardi family, makers of FuZion wines, has become one of Argentina’s largest wineries. A beautiful blend of Chardonnay with one of my favorite white grape varieties – Viognier – this is a beautiful white wine to have in the fridge for any occasion. Loaded with tropical aromas & tastes (think mango, pineapple & guava) with a citrusy zing that makes it refreshing. Serve with steamed mussels, lobster, grilled fish or chicken satay skewers. TIP: pick up more than 1 bottle. This wine will sell quickly.
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$21.95 (Vintages #236745) 13.9% alcohol
OK…I have to confess. One stop that I make every time I visit Niagara wine region is to 13th Street Estate Winery. Why? For their buttertarts. Yes, this winery has hands down the best buttertarts around. Their wine is outstanding too. And their tasting room & patio is a worthwhile reason to stop.
This white wine is an unoaked Chardonnay with notes of apple (green apple or is it Macintosh?) with fresh juicy pears with a minerality that is the terroir coming through. “Limestone and Chardonnay are like peanut butter and jam…they were just made for each other!”, comments 13th Street winemaker Jean Pierre Colas who was born and raised in Chablis, France – a region that specializes in unoaked Chardonnay.
Sonoma County, California
$19.95 (Vintages #434605)
What tipped me off that this would be a good wine? The word Lodi. This is the rarely mentioned wine region that neighbours Sonoma & Napa. When I visited it, I was reminded more of grape farming than a wine region. Like corn, rows of vineyards traced the hillside as far as the eye could see. Ford F150 trucks & John Deer tractors lined the roads more than rental cars of tourists.
Zinfandel vines are over 100 years old in Lodi and grow more like small trees than trellised vines. Wines made with Lodi grapes (sometimes blended with grapes from Sonoma or Napa) will promise you rich texture, dark berry jam aromas & tastes with a full body. This one is definitely one to crack open when you fire up a BBQ. It is no wonder that it was given a score of 90 byRobert Parker Jr & named as Wine of the Month by the team at Vintages. This red wine will be a hot seller.
Maipo Valley, Chile
$17.95 (Vintages #57513)
Another one of my favorite wine words: Carmenère. For the longest time grape growers in Chile thought Carmenère grapes were in fact Merlot until someone put it under the microscope. An extra lobe on the leaf of the plant let the secret out about this grape variety. Carmenère was a long lost variety that was once grown in Bordeaux France before the nasty Phylloxera bug decimated countless European vineyards back in the 1800s. This grape variety grows so well that the Chileans are making this as their signature red wine.
This red wine is loaded with flavour of anything black – plums, black berry & black cherry, this smooth full bodied red wine is 90 per cent Carmenère with the rest topping up with Syrah grapes. Another one to serve with anything off the grill.
GRAND TOTAL $100.75