Chill out with cool Chardonnays

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Who does not love the dog days of summer?  Flowers are in full bloom, berries and vegetables crowd the market stalls, people are barbequing and in spite of the wet weather, those little grapes of ours are slowly making their way to fruition.

So it is not surprising that the LCBO Vintages release for July 20 focuses on BBQ and Cool Climate Chardonnay wines. I remember a time when Chardonnay wines used to be heavy and oaky which probably gave some weight to the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) era. Now, there is so much variety in winemaking techniques that Chardonnay has been given a makeover.

In 2011, approximately twenty nine Ontario wineries started the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Association that has done much to return the Chardonnay grape to dignity. While the grape origins may be in Burgundy, France, it has flourished in the cooler climate Ontario soil that offers minerality and difference to the grape. It is still the most popular varietal for people to drink and the only difficulty this release presents, is finding the Chardonnay style that is right for you.

This weekend in time with the Vintages release Chardonnay feature, Niagara is hosting the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (follow #i4C2013 on Twitter or @coolchardonnay for all of the buzz!) again this year and it is bigger than ever with a Grand Tasting event outdoors, lunches at wineries, intimate winemakers dinners in the vineyards, educational seminars – everything to showcase the best Chardonnays in the world as they come together in Niagara.  Worthy of a roadtrip!

I hope you will join me in picking up a few of my top Chardonnay picks at Vintages and don’t be afraid to pair it with a hamburger or grilled steak.  You will find out how very “cool” Chardonnay can be.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Julie

 

Angel’s Gate Mountainview Chardonnay 2010

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #116384) 13.5% alcohol

Some wines are just so good, I want to enjoy them on their own and not have to worry about pairing them with food. I’m sure most Europreans would disagree with me, however.  A pale golden coloured medium bodied Chard. with aromas and tastes of stone, pineapple, lemon zest and green apple. It’s fresh, medium bodied and makes for a lovely afternoon sipper. It’s lip-smacking delicious on its own or with salad for a light lunch or white fish at supper.

 

Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Musqué

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #640516) 13.5% alcohol

This fresh chardonnay has lots of citrusy expression with aromas of white blossoms and stone; a tad mininerally which is typical of the Chardonnay Musqué clone. This undermining of minerality gives it a fresh and light taste with apricot, grapefruit and green apple on the palate and aftertaste. Another great sipper for mid-afternoon and would match grilled chicken and lighter fare.

 

Papale Linea Oro Primitivo di Manduria 2010

DOP, Varvaglione Vigne & Vini, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages# 261784)  14% alcohol

This wine was a Gold Medal 2012 Mundus Vini winner. Made from the Prinitivo grape in the Puglia region of Italy, also known as Zinfandel in North America. It is no wonder that 115 bottles of the 2008 vintage of this wine was purchased by the Vatican following the election of Pope Francis in 2013. Rich ruby red in colour, almost opaque with aromas and tastes of dark berry pie and a little leather. Full bodied, chewy and smooth with a little sweet spice dancing around the palate; medium tannins leaving a velvety and persisting finish. A handsome and elegant wine to serve with any roasts or tenderloin.

 

The Show Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

California, U.S.A.
$17.95 (Vintages #140715) 13.9% alcohol

Deep dark ripe berries aromas combined with classic pencil shavings waft from the nose of the glass with this Cab. Sauv. An assortment of ripe fruit swirl on the tongue plus, chocolate and mocha flavours, combined with a pinch of sweet spice. It is heady and full bodied layered with flavour and lovely soft tannins. It’s a real “show-stopper” with a long cherry finish.  Would be just fabulous with any grilled meats or ribs in a heavy duty barbeque sauce. Full bodied and well concentrated; stands on its own.

 

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Blue Label Merlot 2011

California, U.S.A.
$11.95  375 ml (Vintages #250001) 13.5% alcohol

A perfect size for an afternoon picnic!  A medium-bodied Merlot, brimming with aromas of blueberries, violets, dark currants and plums that follow through on the palate. Lovely and smooth, an easy sipper with paté or cheese for a delectable mid afternoon snack under the willow tree.

 

Rosewood Harvest Gold Mead 2011

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages# 346767)  12% alcohol

This honey wine also known as InforMead is made from the fermention of honey and water. Honey is flower nectar collected by domesticated honeybees and contains a complex mixture of sugars, enzymes, proteins, organic compounds and trace minerals. These compounds give honey its distinctive flavor and aromas. The wine is light bodied, almost colourless and not at all sweet as one might expect from a honey wine. I detected aromas of beeswax, almost like candles and white blossoms, with tastes of mild yellow baked apple or pear with a delicate aftertaste of those fruits. It could easily be paired with something very spicey, or sushi or even with strawberries for an interesting desert. It is a real conversation piece at a great price point and well worth the pick up.

Grand Total: $100.70 – ooops…I was over by 70 pennies!

 

 

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