Posts Tagged ‘International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration’

Yeah! Make it a Chardonnay!

Posted by Julie

Monday, July 10th, 2017

It’s that time of year again when the annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (also known by those in the wine biz as ‘i4C’ or #i4C17) descends upon the Niagara region. Everyone gathers for this special i4C weekend to celebrate the most popular grape varietal in the world.

It is an incredible weekend – July 21 to 23 – where 30+ wineries from around the world PLUS 30 Ontario wineries gather to showcase their finest wines made with Chardonnay grapes – everything from sparkling, fresh Chardonnay, aged ones, Chablis style, fermented with wild yeast and those aged in barrels from around the world.  You get to sample everything. Even fine sweet wines made from Chardonnay grapes.  It is a heavenly weekend event!

At i4C, winemakers attend along with wine enthusiasts, Sommeliers, wine writers, restaurant owners and those who are simply visiting Niagara wanting to take in a top-notch event.  A number of us from the Savvy Team have attended and it is hands down an incredible learning and entertaining experience not to mention absolutely delicious & tasty. I highly recommend making i4C the reason for a weekend getaway to Niagara (if you need a reason!).

And for those of you who are ABCers (aka like Anything But Chardonnay), there is an incredible white wine from Spain that I discovered in the recent LCBO Vintages release from the feature or Spanish wines.  Spain often offers great value wines that taste like they should cost more, but my recommendations on those will have to wait for another time as I am filling my basket with 100% Chardonnay for this blog…and can’t wait to get sipping.

Long live i4C!

i4C Social Media Information: Website  *   Twitter   *  Instagram 



If I only had $100, I would buy…
LBCO Vintages Release for Saturday July 8, 2017


Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2015 

VQA Niagara-on-the Lake
$24.95 (Vintages #172338) 12.5 % alcohol

In 2008, Southbrook was the first wine estate in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification for its vineyard and winery. This is one smooth Chardonnay from start to finish. There is some minerality in this white wine which is unusual for a Chardonnay, but this only enhances the soft tropical fruits.

Mid-weight and beautifully balanced with some baked pear on the finish, it’s one lovely drink. Would partner nicely with BBQed chicken or salmon.



Emiliana Natura Unoaked Chardonnay 2016

Casablanca Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #439398) 14 % alcohol

In the last release I featured Emiliana Winery for their sparkling wine. And here they are again on my top picks list!

This unoaked Chardonnay wine is anything but “typicity”.  In winespeak, this is the degree in which the grape varietal reflects or demonstrates its characteristics from the origin or region. I found just a hint of effervescence, light-bodied with lime tanginess which is unusual for a Chardonnay.  It’s fresh and clean with a green apple finish. I really liked it and this white wine is definitely going into my shopping basket & right into my fridge for a hot summer afternoon where I will uncork it for lunch or a light dinner with something like a Watermelon, Feta Cheese & Black Olive Salad.



Buena Vista Chardonnay 2015

Sonoma County, U.S.A.
$24.95 (Vintages #396440) 13 % alcohol

In a little corner bordering Sonoma and Napa’s southern boundaries is the celebrated vinicultural area called Carneros. While only about 90 square miles, the region is recognized for producing world class Chardonnays.

This white wine is a style that is heavier and creamier than what comes from other Chardonnay growing regions but for those who love a ‘Big Bold Chard’, this wine is for you!  I put extra stars beside my tasting notes, indicating that I love this wine. Aromas of buttered popcorn, rich and smooth on the palate as the tropical fruit simply takes over the senses and abounds.  It’s dry, crisp with a lingering finish. Elegant and refined, a class-act Chardonnay. Would easily stand up to a dinner of Steak & frites…yes white wine with steak!



Invivo Gisborne Chardonnay 2016

Gisborne, North Island, New Zealand
$15.95 (Vintages #499855) 13 % alcohol

Although this was not available at my tasting, Invivo Wines is going to be present at i4C represented by Winemaker and Co-founder, Rob Cameron. I never have any difficulty recommending a wine from New Zealand, especially the Gisborne region, since wines that are produced are always top notch. Tasting notes indicate an easy drinking style with citrus and ripe stone fruit on the palate.

At this incredible price point, (remember it travelled half way around the world to get onto the LCBO shelves), this white wine is definitely going in my basket. It is worth a try!


A dynamite wine from Spain you have to try …

Barón De ley Blanco 2016

DOCa Rioja
$13.95 (Vintages #145995) 12 % alcohol

A blend of Viura (90%) and Malvasia (10%) grapes, this fresh aromatic white wine is easy to drink. While not common grape varietals, these are quite at home in Navarra in the DOC Rioja region.

The winemaking process is carried out in stainless steel tanks which lends to its super fresh lemon lime flavours with a citrusy finish. Fresh and a light-bodied whine, makes for a terrific wine on a hot summer’s day.



Grand Total = $95.75


If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

This weekend at the LCBO features “Great Values for Summer” on the store shelves at Vintages and a real cool event that takes place in Niagara called “i4C” – the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration.  Years ago my husband and I attended this festival, set on the hills of lovely Tawse Winery in along the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment).vintages magazine cover

Winemakers & Sommeliers from around the world transcended to Niagara to sip & savour Chardonnay all weekend.  Events of all kinds shone the spotlight on this featured grape.  At one event, Canadian singer songwriter Murray McLaughlin played live as the icing on the cake to make this annual event memorable for me.

Join me to fill your shopping cart with bottles of Chardonnay to celebrate i4C along with “Great Values for Summer” that await your discovery at Vintages.

Heres to the dog days of summer…I wish they could last forever.

Cheers & enjoy,


If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday July 9, 2016


Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2014Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2014

BC VQA Okanagan Valley
$ 19.95 (Vintages #378489) 14 % alcohol

Straight from the Okanagan Valley, this dry, smooth Chardonnay has no shortage of tropical fruit plus the green apple taste offers perfect acidity. Medium-bodied and fresh there’s a bit of toasty oak and vanilla. It is an elegant Chardonnay with luscious brioche and a hint of coconut at the end. Grilled salmon with new potatoes, buttery and parsley.


Casa Del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015

DO Casablanca Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #974717) 14% alcohol

Very pale in colour but not in taste, this Sauvignon Blanc is very clean and refreshing. Talk about a palate cleanser.

There’s lots of citrus, especially white grapefruit flavours with a pithy aftertaste that sends you back for more…and more…and more!   Light-bodied that makes it perfect for a picnic.  At this price, it is a great value wine to have in your fridge until Labour Day, or heck, buy more and keep on drinking it until Christmas!


 Timulqui Single Vineyard Torrentes 2015Timulqui Single Vineyard Torrentes 2015

La Rioja, Argentina
$13.95 (Vintages #450486) 14.5 % alcohol

Torrentes is such an interesting grape varietal. When I serve a Torrentes everyone always asks what kind of wine is this since it is so different from our  usual varietals like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. It is produced only in Argentina and has an incomparable flavor.  The Torrentes grape originated in Mendoza apparently under the leadership of Jesuits. Pale golden in colour with floral, geranium aromas, lots of  orange and passion fruit on the palate with a touch of oregano or white pepper at the end. It’s interesting, fresh and another fantastic value.

Waterkloof Circle of Life 2012

Waterkloof Circle of Life 2012

WO Stellenbosch, South Africa
$19.95 (Vintages #284588) 13.5% alcohol

Although Circle of Life reminds me of a Disney movie, the winery has certainly taken it’s title seriously embracing a sense of origin with the bio-dynamic vineyards.

I found this wine unusual in taste. I’m not sure whether it was the forest, almost tree-like aromas or that there was so much going on with its Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc (also known as Steen in South Africa) blend. Some tropical fruit, yellow apple and lime mingles with a pinch of honey on the aftertaste making this medium bodied blend very smooth and satisfying. I liked it immediately and can’t wait to pick up a bottle to enjoy with seafood.


Finca El Origen Reserva Malbec 2015Finca El Origen Reserva Malbec 2015

Uco Valley, Mendoza
Bodegas y Videos La Esperanza
$15.95 (Vintages #65664) 14.1% alcohol

In February my husband and I traveled to Buenos Aires and ever since there’s always lots of Malbec in our wine cupboard. It’s dark, inky purple almost opaque in colour (it’s going to look fabulous in my big bowl wine glasses!) and exhibits layers of spice, tobacco, blackberry and a little cassis. It packs serious punch. It’s smooth, lingering with persistent length and depth. It’s another fabulous value wine.  Bring on anything grilled.


Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2010

Coppi Peucetico Primitivo 2010

DOC Gioia del Colle, Puglia
$14.95 (Vintages #724674) 13.5% alcohol

I learned in the LCBO release report that the Latin word, “Primitivo” translates to first to ripen. Just when I thought Primitivo grape made great medium to big red wines that are perfect ‘spaghetti wine’ (you know…perfect with a bowl of spaghetti!) Vibrant dark plums, ripe red berry and violet aromas, lead you to a delicious, medium-bodied palate of ripe black cherries, fleshy raspberry, some ground pepper and noticeable tannins. The fruit is ripe and remains start to finish.


Grand Total: $99.75  – how is that for being on budget! 



If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

I’m off to to Niagara this weekend with many other wine fantics 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.

LCBO Vintages release July 19History of the Chard 

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% 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.

Celebrating Chardonnay

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


Benjamin Bridge Nova 7

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2013

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.



Zuccardie Seria A ChardonnayZuccardi Serie A Chardonnay/Viognier 2012

Mendoza, Chile
$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.



13th Street June's Chardonnay13th Street June’s Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2012

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.

The winery team is very much involved in i4C hosting several events including Barrels & Bonfires – a Chardonnay soaked pig roast.   There will be a lot of this Chardonnay served.

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.


Rancho Zabacco ZinfandelRancho Zabaco Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2012

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 by Robert Parker Jr & named as Wine of the Month by the team at Vintages. This red wine will be a hot seller.


Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva CarmeneraVina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Carmenère 2011

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% Carmenère with the rest topping up with Syrah grapes. Another one to serve with anything off the grill.







Newsletter May 2014 – Cheese-y Road Trip to The County & BBQ wine tips

Posted by Debbie

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Spring has burst into summer & the Savvy Team has organized a road trip to Prince Edward County, top wine picks when you fire up the BBQ & insider tips on how to get involved in the wine, beer & spirits biz. Join us!

Did you know. . . today is Chardonnay Day? 

Corks will be flying around the world today celebrating this white wine grape & the upcoming International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (aka i4c) in Niagara that shines the spotlight on all wines made with Chardonnay.

Is it Chard’-o’clock yet??

Hop on the Savvy Bus – we’re going to Prince Edward County!

Last month’s Savvy Bus trip sold out so quickly . . .we’re going to The County again! Join us on Saturday June 7th bound for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival where hundreds of artisan cheeses are waiting to be enjoyed. Everyone will be there – cheesemakers, farmers, brewmasters, winemakers, chefs & artists too.

Be sure to take part in the Savvy Seminars too – including a Wine or Craft Beer – which is better with cheese? tasting by our own Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm. And be part of the People’s Choice Awards with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons to have your say in Canada’s top artisan cheese.

And any trip to The County is not complete without a visit to a winery or two. We’ll take a break from cheese to hit the country roads and discover some nearby wineries.

NEW: Makers+Mongers dinner under the stars!

We are delighted to be the sponsor of the new Makers+Mongers after-festival party! The Savvy Bus will return to Picton to take in the fun mixing & mingling with those involved in the cheese industry. The cheese laden menu will feature top winning cheeses from the Canadian Cheese Awards & a tasty BBQ.

Book your spot on the Savvy Bus $130 includes everything! (reg $150) > >

OR. . .go for a gourmet getaway!


Buy tickets to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival & join us for dinner at Makers+Mongers > >

Get the inside scoop on Importing Wine, Beer & Spirits

Thinking about becoming a wine, beer & spirits agent? Or already involved & looking for a competitive edge? Register for the popular Importing Wine, Craft Beer & Spirits for Pleasure & Profit seminar to learn from industry ‘guru’ Steven Trenholme. During this day long seminar he will explain how to bring wine back from your travels, how to start an agency & sell through the LCBO or SAQ.

Steven certainly knows the ins & outs. He has over 30 years experience working as manager of a national sales agency, brand manager of Mosel wines in Germany, consultant to Wines of South Africa & SABMiller. An invaluable seminar if you are wondering what it takes to be involved in ‘the biz’.

Toronto: Saturday June 7th

Only 6 seats left.

Register before it sells out > >

Firing up your BBQ? Here are 3 Savvy wine tips:

TIP #1 – Every 2 weeks, our Savvy Sommeliers blog If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages’ – it’s a tried & tested shopping list of wines we highly recommend to buy at LCBO Vintages.

TIP #2 – What goes with BBQ? Malbec of course! We recently showcased renowned Canadian winemaker Ann Sperling who is a winemaker in Niagara, Okanagan & Argentina – all at once! Ann’s full bodied Versado Malbec 2012 WOWed the crowd. This BIG red is begging to be enjoyed with anything off the BBQ or lay down in your cellar. Treat yourself! Click to find this premium Malbec at your LCBO – you’ll thank us for this tip!

TIP #3Do you like Rosé wine? We’re about to make a first-of-its-kind announcement that will make you clink & drink pink. Email us to get the news first!

Happy Chardonnay Day!

Debbie & the Savvy Team