i4C – Barrels & Bonfires

 

Barrels & Bonfires

This year, the ‘International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration’ (i4C) ‘really’ kicked off at the 13th Street Winery on an unusually hot (for this summer) Friday afternoon with an event titled “Barrels & Bonfires”. Scheduled to appear were 58 winemakers from 9 countries, each usually serving at least two Chards – too many to try even if spitting, but ‘that’ is not what the event was about. Set on barrel-tops in trays of ice and spread out around the winery were the wines guarded by their makers; centrally located was the podium where band played till the event’s end; tables encircled the two hog roasting BBQs and a bench set with ‘new potato salad’, ‘toasted orzo salad’, ‘side salads’, tortillas, smoked salmon, bread and … – enough to choose from to satisfy hunger and to displace + tame the liquids already in the stomach. Yes, there were sweats and treats (if the wine wasn’t enough), but to find these, one had to pass the winemakers representing wineries at the end of alphabet (from S to W) hidden behind a gazebo and right next to a circular fire pit. Around the winery were bonfires set so as to spread out the guests and ensuring that each representing winery got its audience.

 

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i4C 2014

Though I didn’t attend the other festivities (hope to do so in 2015), here is a summary of was going on during the fourth consecutive i4C that fell on the weekend of July 18th to 20th (Fri-Sun) and ‘in actuality’ stated with a ‘The School of Cool’ main event held at the Brock University (8:30 am – 2:30 pm for trade and invitees only); followed by ‘Barrels & Bonfires BBQ’ that took place later that evening (6:30 – 11:30 pm); the ‘Cool Chardonnay World Tour Grand Tasting & Dinner’ filled most of Saturday’s late afternoon and evening (4:30 – 11:30 pm); and the weekend concluded on Sunday with ‘The Moveable Feast – Brunch on the Bench’ at Ravine Vineyard from 10 am to 2 pm. Other ‘cool’ events took place in number of wineries across Niagara Peninsula and mostly happened on Saturday late morning to early afternoon – to get a taste of how packed the weekend was, visit the official i4C schedule of 2014.

 

The few reviewed Chards

As always, I spent my time walking around and tasting as many Chardonnays as I was able to. I’ve noticed an overall improvement in the quality from last year and is reflected in the number of recommended wines (whether due to its quality alone or value as well). Click links to expand for reviews.
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The 2011 Bachelder Oregon Chardonnay has rich aromas of gooseberry, stems, pear and subtle wood on the nose and pear, lemon, butter, vanilla and coconut on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; BALANCED with excellent acidity and a medium to long finish. This is a sipper but will pair very well with most dishes; drink for the rest of this decade at least (cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 pts – recommended for its quality and perhaps value.
RECOMMENDED Score 92 pts. $29.95 Vintages 273334
The 2011 Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay, subtly mineral, has appealing aromas of yellow apple, lemon, butter and vanilla. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with crisp acidity and a long finish. This is a food friendly and sipping wine; drink past 2020 (cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $29.95 Vintages 302083
The 2011 Bachelder Niagara Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay has seductive aromas of subtle limestone minerality, pear, butter and vanilla on the nose and yellow apple, pear and gooseberry on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; BALANCED with crisp acidity and a creamy, oak influenced yet fruit-forward finish of long length. This is a sipper; drink now and for the next 5++ years (cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92-93 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 92-93 pts. $44.95 Vintages 366120
The 2012 Château Des Charmes Chardonnay Musqué has fragrant aromas of lime, Bartlett pear and yellow apple on the nose, while the palate consists of lemon, pear, yellow apple and subtle toasted notes. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with refreshing acidity and a medium to long, lightly oily finish. It is a food friendly wine; drink now to 2018 (screw cap enclosure). My impression: NICE, 87-88 pts. NOT REVIEWED at i4C, yet re-tasted and relevant to this post.
Score 87-88 pts. $16.95 LCBO 640516
The 2012 Château des Charmes Paul Bosc Estate Chardonnay, fermented and aged on lees for 12 months in French oak barrels, has subtle yet elegant aromas of limestone minerality, lime and green apple on the nose and more pronounced notes of lemon, green apple, oak, vanilla, coconut and subtle lees on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; with crisp acidity (not that common in oaked Chards) and a long, clean finish with creamy vanilla and coconut (decant for at least 15 minutes). This is a food friendly (worked with steak) and sipping wine; drink now and for the next 5-10 years (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 89 pts – recommended for both, its quality and value. NOT REVIEWED at i4C, yet re-tasted and relevant to this post.
RECOMMENDED Score 89 pts. $21.95 Vintages 287268
The 2012 Sperling Chardonnay has mouth-watering aromas of green apple, yellow apple and butter. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with forward acidity and a medium to long, oily finish. Enjoy this wine with food or share with friends; drink for the next few years. My impression: NICE, 88 pts – recommended for its freshness and quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 88 pts. $31.00 Vintages Sperling Vineyards
The 2012 Stratus Chardonnay, naturally ferment in barrel and then aged for 9+ months in French oak barrels (18% new), has rich aromas of butter, vanilla and oak on the nose and ripe pear, wood and vanilla + butter on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; with good acidity and a long finish. This is a sipping wine (though food friendly); enjoy for 5-10 years (enclosed with long cork). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92 pts – recommended for its quality, though rather pricey.
RECOMMENDED Score 92 pts. $48.00 Stratus Winery
The 2011 Sumaridge Estate Chardonnay, matured for 10 months in Bourgogne Oak Barrels (of which 35% were new), has succulent bouquet of toast, oak, butter, vanilla and pear on the nose and pear, quince and gooseberry on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; with crisp, refreshing acidity and a long finish. Make no mistake, this is a sipper (despite being food friendly); enjoy for 10+ years (enclosed with the longest cork I’ve ever seen on a white wine). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 92-93 pts – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 92-93 pts. $33.00 Grad Well Wines
The 2011 Tantalus Chardonnay, made from fruit sourced from vines planted in 1985 that after fermenting was aged in new and old French barrels for total of 13 months; has delicate aromas of green and yellow apple on the nose and gooseberry, oak and vanilla on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with refreshing acidity and a medium to long, smooth finish. It is food friendly and enjoyable on its own; drink now and for the next few years (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 90 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 90 pts. $42.00 Hobbs & Co
The 2011 Tawse Estate Chardonnay was harvested from Robyn’s Block, David’s Block and Hillside vineyards that are certified biodynamic; after which the wine was then fermented and aged in French Oak for 12 months followed by 6 months in stainless steel tanks. It has appealing aromas of lemon, yellow apple and vanilla on both, the nose and palate. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; with refreshing acidity and a medium finish. This is a food friendly as well as sipping wine; drink now and for the next 2-3 years (screw cap enclosure). My impression: NICE, 89 pts.
Score 89 pts. $37.95 Tawse Winery
The 2011 Tawse Quarry Road Chardonnay, harvested from 15-year old vines that were farmed organically and biodynamically and then spent 14 months in French Oak barrels, has elegant aromas of limestone minerality, toast, lemon and gooseberry on the nose and yellow apple, gooseberry, butter and vanilla on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; with crisp acidity and a medium to long, clean finish. Though food friendly, it is a sipping wine; drink now and for the next 4+ years (screw cap enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 93 pts – recommended for its quality and perhaps value.
RECOMMENDED Score 93 pts. $34.95 Vintages 111989
The 2011 Thelema Sutherland Chardonnay that was fermented on its lees in 228L French oak barrels for 11 months; has subtle aromas of lees, quince and wood on the nose and lime, quince, vanilla and wood on its palate. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with forward acidity and a medium finish. This is a food friendly wine; drink now and for the next couple of years as already there is more wood than fruit (screw cap enclosure). My impression: NICE, 87-88 pts.
Score 87-88 pts. $16.00 Wine World Importers
The 2012 Thelema Chardonnay, sourced from almost 30-year-old vines after which it was fermented in 228L French oak barrels for 10 months; has captivating aromas of coffee on the nose and lemon, yellow apple, butter and vanilla on the palate. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with refreshing acidity and a long finish. This is a food friendly and sipping wine; drink for the next 3-5 years (screw cap enclosure). My impression: NICE, 89 pts – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 89 pts. $20.00 Wine World Importers
The 2012 Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay, of which 16% spend 2 months in French Oak barrels, has captivating aromas of light tropical fruits namely lemon and pineapple, gooseberry and vanilla on both the nose and palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry/dry, fruity wine; with good/refreshing acidity and a medium finish. This is a food friendly wine; drink for the next 2-3 years (screw cap enclosure). My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts – recommended for its uniqueness (for Chardonnay), quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 88-89 pts. $23.00 Vinexx
The 2012 13th Street Vineyard Selection Unoaked Chardonnay, sourced from June’s Vineyard planted in 1999, this wine has subtle aromas of gooseberry and pear. It is a light to medium bodied, dry, fruity wine; with crisp acidity and a medium, mineral finish. This is a food friendly wine; drink for the next 1-2 years. My impression: NICE, 88 pts – though recommended for its quality, not recommended for its price.
RECOMMENDED Score 89 pts. $21.95 13th Street Winery
The 2011 13th Street Sandstone Reserve Chardonnay, sourced from nearly 30-year-old wines, which afterwards was partially aged in new/used French Oak barrels for 8-9 months; has seductive aromas of creamy butter and vanilla on the nose and pear, gooseberry, butter and vanilla on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; BALANCED with refreshing acidity and a long, mineral finish. Enjoy this wine on its own; drink for the next 3-5+ years (cork enclosure). My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91-92 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91-92 pts. $29.95 Vintages 344325
The 2012 Trius Wild Ferment Chardonnay was sourced from Lincoln Lakeshore and then aged for 11 months in French Oak barrels; has attractive notes of lees, gooseberry and vanilla. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with good acidity, slight fizz and a medium finish. This is a food friendly wine; drink for the next few years (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE, 89 pts.
Score 89 pts. $36.20 Vintages 199273
The 2012 Trius Chardonnay, sourced from mixed vineyards; has pleasing aromas of lemon, pear and vanilla. It is a medium bodied, dry, fruity to integrated wine; with good acidity and a medium to long finish. This is a food friendly and sipping wine; drink for the next 3-5+ years (cork enclosure). My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts.
Score 88-89 pts. $13.95 LCBO 497248

 

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Special Thanks to Magdalena Kaiser and Dorian Anderson from Wine Country Ontario for the invitation to the pinnacle of all annual wine events occurring right here in our backyard.

 

 

Click the hyperlinks for i4C 2013 or for other EVENTS taking place in the wine country or in Toronto.

 

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