Cool Chardonnay

Last weekend, Niagara became Nirvana for Chardonnay lovers.

It was the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration – otherwise known as i4c+. This year was the sixth anniversary of the event, and from the people I’ve talked to, it just seems to be getting better and better.

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There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it would be a good weekend. I’m a die-hard Chardonnay girl, and it is definitely my white wine of choice. This has been the cause for some debate amongst my wine-loving friends. I have some friends who don’t like Chardonnay at all. Some like it, but only if it’s unoaked. As for me? Bring on the oak. I love it. One of my friends jokingly says, “Jo, let’s face it. You would lick the barrel if you could.”

Well, not really.

Okay, maybe just a little bit.

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What can I say. I love the lush, buttery, oaky, hint-of-vanilla deliciousness of Chardonnay. I realize that it does need balance, but the oak is my favourite part of it. The good thing is, there are some out there for me. The rest of the good news is that if you don’t like oak, there are some out there for you too. There really is a Chardonnay for everyone.

Can I get an amen?

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Chardonnay evangelism over with for now.

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So let’s get back to talking about i4C+. This year, I was able to get to two events – Flights of Chardonnay, and The Moveable Feast Brunch at Ravine Vineyard. There were many more I would have liked to attend too. I heard good stuff about The School of Cool and of course, the Cool Chardonnay World Tour and Grand Tasting. Aside from the main events, there were tastings, seminars, lunches and other stuff happening at the wineries. So much to choose from, depending on your interests, schedule, and budget.

Flights of Chardonnay was the Friday night event, held at the Niagara District Airport. It was a really neat venue, and it was a gorgeous hot night. Perfect for quenching our thirst with Chardonnay.

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There were lots of beauties to choose from.

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My plan was to try and taste some Chardonnays that I normally wouldn’t get to try – ones from other cool climate regions, and some that are way out of my budget. It was a real treat getting to taste them.

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Winemakers and representatives from the wineries were there to chat with people about their products too.

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Everybody just seemed to be having a great time.

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Did I mention the food? There were lots of goodies from great chefs to choose from. Ken and I shared the Tandoori Chicken on a bun, which came from Zooma at Westcott.

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There was lots of seating, which was great. Sometimes I find events don’t have enough. That was certainly not the case here.

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And this scene was pretty cool.

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As the sun went down, the Cool sign glowed. I didn’t get any shots though, as I wasn’t there that late. The sunset looked stunning from the pictures that I saw on social media.

It was a fun event, and a great way to kick off the weekend festivities.

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The Moveable Feast Brunch at Ravine Vineyard was the closing event for the Festival. It was laid-back and relaxed, full of more delicious food and wine.

When you’re greeted at the door and handed a glass of Chardonnay right away, you know it’s gonna be a good day.

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The atmosphere at Ravine is just perfect for a relaxing Sunday. We sat under the large marquee, surrounded by peaceful vineyard views.

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Everyone was chattering away with friends. Some they had just met that weekend too.

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There was so much terrific food to choose from. I started with oysters from Tide and Vine.

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And there was lots more to come. A large breakfast buffet, sweets, sausage on a bun, ribs, baked beans and so much more.

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All to be washed down with more spectacular cool climate Chardonnay.

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Everyone feeling relaxed, mellow, and easy. Like Sunday morning. Sorry, couldn’t resist that line.

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We sipped, munched, and caught up with friends, comparing notes about some of our favourite cool climate chards.

It was hard to pick favourites, I tell you.

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One final thing about the weekend that I want to mention is the volunteers. The ones at i4C really were so pleasant and helpful. From a participant’s perspective, it looked like they were enjoying themselves too.  I’ve heard through the grapevine that i4C is a super event to volunteer for.

A weekend full of great people, food and Chardonnay. What more could you ask for?

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Well, perhaps another glass of oaked Chardonnay. I learned last weekend that I’ve got lots more to choose from.

Hope I’ll see you there next year!