Each year on a hot July weekend, the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration aka i4C in Niagara-on-the-Lake, hosts over 60 different winemakers from countries all over the world to allow attendees to "tour the world in a glass". It's a gathering of the minds, an opportunity to chat intimately with sommeliers and winemakers about their passion for crafting chardonnay.
It is not uncommon for people to return year after year to greet old friends, meet new acquaintances and add new tastes to their list of chardonnay favourites. Added to the multi-sensory event is a succession of dishes created by talented chefs from the Niagara region. Their plates elevate the vibrant flavours in the wines and offer meal ideas for guests to replicate at home.
Here are my Top Chardonnay Choices that you should consider having at your next summer patio party or BBQ:
Hemel-en-aarde Valley, Hermanus South Africa
Missionvale Chardonnay 2014 - $40.00 CA
Tasting Notes: Hints of hazelnut and vanilla with a citrus lift and juicy apple. Silky in the mouth with a moderate acidity.
Winemaker Comments: Peter Finalyson says that the wine has been barrel fermented in 30% french oak that results in a smooth taste, with a hint of oiliness that's seamless on the tongue.
Dish Pairing: Roasted Chicken with arugula salad. Spiced grilled octopus and potato salad.
Bottega Vinaia Chardonnay Trentino DOC 2015 - $19.95 CA
Tasting Notes: An ideal summer wine that won't break the bank. A lean, fruit forward chardonnay with green apple and plenty of lemon citrus.
Winemaker Comments: The vineyard is located in the northern most region of Italy. They grow the highest elevation wines. 50% of the wine is aged in stainless steel and the other half sits in used oak for 6 months.
Dish Pairing: Seafood spaghetti, creamy pea risotto, baked salmon.
Willamette Valley, Oregon USA
Ian's Reserve Chardonnay 2013 - $64.00 CA
Tasting Notes: A lustrous sunshine colour with a harmony of acid, oak, and fruit. Tastes of stone fruit with floral finish.
Winemaker Comments: Henry Peterson-Nerdy says their estate vineyard contains volcanic, loose soil which makes for complex grapes and superb minerality. The wine is barrel fermented in 1/3 new french oak and 2/3 used for 11 months.
Dish Pairing: Pan-seared scallops, poached lobster, black truffle risotto.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
Ravine Vineyard Vintage Chardonnay 2015 - $30.00 CA
Tasting Notes: Tropical allure with strong tastes of passionfruit. Light on the tongue and not overly acidic.
Winemaker Comments:Martin Werner says that they've barrel fermented for 10 months in French oak. It's lush and fresh tasting and should be enjoyed now. Unopened, the wine can be aged for one year maximum.
Dish Pairing: Summer salads with endive, rosé sauce pasta.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
Stratus Chardonnay 2013 - $48.00
Tasting Notes: Effervescent and light. Backnotes of creamy vanilla custard blended harmoniously with tropical passionfruit.
Winemaker Comments: Dean Stoyka says the wine has been barrel fermented in french oak (with 25% new) for 11 months.
Dish Pairing: Summer frittata with pesto, burrata salad, crab cakes.
Bourgogne Chardonnay Signature 2013 - $24.00 CA
Tasting Notes: Medium body with the sweetness of peaches, apricot, and honey. A delightful freshness that helps to cleanse the palate.
Winemaker Comments: Dimitri Bazas says that 2/3 of the wine has been barrel fermented and 1/3 in stainless steel for 10 months. Not suitable for aging. Drink and enjoy now.
Dish Pairing: Grilled shrimp, fresh oysters.
Valle de Limari, Chile
Talinay Chardonnay 2014 - $30.00 CA
Tasting Notes: Exceptionally clean, pure mineral elegance.
Winemaker Comments: The coastal vineyard, located in the northern part of Chile, contains limestone soil brought up from the bed of the ocean millions of years ago. As a result, you get wine that has that salty- umami taste that makes it a perfect companion with food. There's no trace of oak in this wine-- so as not to take away from the minerality.
Dish Pairing: Butter poached lobster, pan-seared sea-bass with quinoa.
EnRoute Chardonnay Russian River 2014 - $92.00 CA
Tasting Notes: Burst of bright fruits, especially citrus; great balance in acidity and length.
Winemaker Comments: The terroir creates conditions that allows for even fruit development due to fog cover in the vineyard to protect grapes from the wind, sunshine in the day, and cool temperatures in the evening. Ideal for aging 3-5 years maximum.
Dish Pairing: Grilled seafood, sushi & sashimi, shellfish with white wine sauce.
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