First of all, no kids should sip Chardonnay, "please stick to the rivers and lakes that you're used to." (TLC reference)
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the "School of Cool" put on by the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration - I4C17 in Niagara. It was a day-long seminar on all things cool climate chardonnay. The event was moderated by John Szabo a Master Sommelier like in the movie "Somm" so pretty badass. Our keynote speaker was Karen Macneil who really knew how to speak to people about wine. "Hot climate is power, cool climate is elegance" among many things she talked about that really resonated with my wine bone. We also had a special guest Belinda Kemp from Brock University who should be called "Dr. Cool, Chardonnay".
The seminar was broken down into three sections
1. "Soil Smackdown" which much to my disappointment involved very little actually smacking down. It was a panel lead discussion on which soil type is best for Chardonnay, different expressions of soil and its effect on the character of the wine...essentially all things terroir. It was a total nerd fest for which I was front row center with a smile on my face :)
2. "I do it my way" which was discussing various techniques different winemakers use to create their own version of what chardonnay means to them. To oak or not to oak, that is the question. To age on the lee's or not, for those wondering no there isn't a girl named Lee who bathes in the wine to help it age. Note: Aging on the lees "Sur Lie" means letting the wine sit on its yeast which has fallen to the bottom of the tank or barrel which add's complexity to a wine. Norman Hardie for instance in P.E.C. turns his old steel milk containers used as fermentors on their sides to increase the lees to wine surface ratio to further enhance the "Sur Lie" characters. Shhh...don't tell anyone it's his secret.
3. "The Sugar Trials" which again I thought was going to be epic with someone shouting "You can't handle the truth" but alas it was cordial and educational. This session was about how much dosage if any should be added to sparkling wine. "Dosage" is usually a sugar or blend of wine and sugar added to a sparkling wine after its second fermentation. We tasted "Nature" which didn't have any dosage and was bone dry all the way to one that had about 13G/L of sugar added for which the room agreed was a tad overdone. The winemaker took the opinion of the room in stride, but secretly I think poisoned a few loudmouths next sample because I haven't seen them since.
The school of cool ended the fabulous day of educational discussions with a "networking event" just outside the conference room which as you can see by the picture below was strictly business and zero fun. FYI when a wine industry hosts a "networking event" I highly suggest you go and make sure you have designated driver. I had the chance to meet winemakers from Niagara, P.E.C, Austria, Quebec, Chile, Spain, France you get the picture. I think I met one from New Zealand but after a non disclosed amount of samples I forgot. #DontJudge
Paul from Burgundy
Austria VS Quebec
Do you have any Chardonnay?
When Norman Hardie from P.E.C. poured me a glass of his wine I nearly fell to the floor, this guy is a Canadian wine rockstar.
I truly fell in love with our Canadian Chardonnay that day tasting Hidden Bench, Southbrook, Stratus, Thirty Bench, Tawse, Bachelder and the Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Carte Blanc de Blanc 2012 sparkling wine. I tasted around the globe but honestly, our Chardonnays from home are top notch and for me, blew a Chablis Premier Cru I tasted out of the water! I highly suggest you ditch the cheap Tuesday sweatpants wine, split a bottle with a friend to keep it affordable and splurge on some of these $20-$50 bottles because it will be an experience you'll remember. I'm very confident about the future of our nations wine industry but we have to take it seriously at home first before we can get the world to take us seriously.
Trust me, the world's famous wine regions like Burgundy are watching us and are probably a little bit nervous.
Happy Sipping from Niagara,
P.S. Thanks to Trisha the Operations Manager who helped me find a bedroom for the night so that I could enjoy my day. I also have to thank all of the volunteers who helped make this event totally awesome!