As a wine lover, you already understand that terroir can markedly affect a wine. A pinot noir grape grown in Central California will not taste the same if grown in the Burgundy region of France or the Twenty Mile Bench region of Niagara. It’s enough to keep your curiosity in a state of constant hunger — what is the path to understanding wine as a whole if a single grape is so elusive?
Well, chardonnay fans may have met their curiosity’s match. The International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration, or i4C as it’s popularly known, is a festival that lets you hunker down and really get to know the varietal inside and out, define its complexities, note its boundaries, and discover its secret selves. Taking place this July 17 to 19, the i4C will open your mind, expand your palette, and thoroughly delight you at the same time.
What It Is
The i4C is a truly a celebration of all things chardonnay-related. Over the years, 135 wineries from 36 different cool climate regions have participated, and an amazing 550 different chardonnays have been poured and shared. 2,000 guests attend the event each year, including over 20 sommeliers from Montreal and Toronto. There is excellent dining, industry discussion, keynote speakers — and all of it centers on a single grape grown in cool climates.
This year’s celebration is particularly noteworthy, because it marks the fifth anniversary of the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Association, which means even more winemakers from all over the world will be in attendance to taste, share, and talk about current and special past vintages.
Over 50 wineries from around the world will be in attendance from countries that lay claim to growing and making good chardonnay, including France, Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Italy, Chile, Germany, and New Zealand. More than a dozen Niagara wineries will be represented as well.
- The School of Cool. On July 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can attend this winemaking and viticulture session that includes Matt Kramer, “Wine Spectator” contributor, and a panel of over 15 international and Canadian wine industry experts. Only 350 tickets are available for this daylong, in-depth session.
- Barrels & Bonfires BBQ. Held at 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines, this casual event will take place July 17 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Enjoy chardonnay, smoky barbecue, live music, and bonfires among 13th Street’s lush vineyards.
- Go Vertical with Le Clos. On Saturday, July 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., head over to Le Clos Vineyard to take in chardonnays from three different years: 2007, 2009, and 2011. The event will highlight the differences in taste that result in a warm vintage — the 2007 — as opposed to cooler vintages —the 2009 and 2011. Appointments are required.
If you love chardonnay and have always longed to understand it better, spend the weekend of July 17 to 19, 2015 in Niagara. The i4C is a celebration of wine unlike any other, and your ticket awaits.