Chatelaine Kitchen

How I learned to love Chardonnay

Chardonnay has never appealed to me, nor, I thought, ever would. It took a weekend in Niagara to change my mind.

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I’ll be the first to admit it: I am not a fan of Chardonnay. Riesling I love, Pino Gris — yes, please. Vino verde, I’m good and ready. But the harsh, often overly-oaked flavour and sweetness of Chardonnay has never appealed to me, nor, I thought, ever would.

Fast-forward to The Rebirth of Cool weekend, recently held in Niagara, where International winemakers and likewise aficionados of cool climate chardonnays gathered for three days to explore the seductive nuances of the most planted grape on earth.

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So was my mind changed? Well, yes! Why? I think because, I finally tasted the true essence of what chardonnay was meant to be. Some were crisp, others, silky, and almost none were oaky. Chardonnay was suddenly the wine I’d been looking for all summer long!

There are some great Ontario examples, including lovely ones from Closson Chase Vineyard, Stratus Vineyards and Bachelder Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay, while other favourites were a beauty from Maison Louis Jadot, from Santenay, France, and Flowers “Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard” from the Sonoma Coast.

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From the official kickoff ceremony where a massive storm swept in and soaked us to the bone while we ate delicious grilled (and slightly soggy) food from some of Niagara’s best chefs, to lovely winery luncheons and a fantastic cooking demo from celebrated B.C. chef Vikram Vij, having all of these chefs, wine makers – and especially wine drinkers, together exchanging thoughts in the sunshine as we sipped chardonnays from 64 different wineries, was just about the best way this newbie chardonnay lover could spend a weekend.

For more info: www.winecountryontario.ca and www.coolchardonnay.org