Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Report from ... The Cool Climate Chardonnay World Tour - July 23, 2011

You might have heard that Ontario hosted the world to a Cool Climate Chardonnay weekend in July: dinners, music, events all surrounded around the most popular white wine grape on the planet.  But one of the regions that made it extremely popular was not in attendance, and I'm not talking Burgundy; the reason that California was not in attendance was that much of the state is not considered "cool climate" - though there are some parts that could qualify.

Today, on one of the hottest days and evenings of the summer, Tawse winery hosted the world of Chardonnay in a massive tented area that stretched in a curve around the vineyard behind the winery.  Tables were set up and, wouldn't you know it, in the grand tradition of Tawse doing thing BIG, Murray McLaughlin performed on stage ... the big question: was he paid in Chardonnay? (Only Murray, or is that Moray, Tawse, knows).

54 wineries were in attendance, including 26 from Ontario the others from France, Oregon, New Zealand, Austria, Italy, Chile (?), South Africa (?) New York and British Columbia.  What follows is a list of the top international Chardonnays I tasted (in alphabetical order by winery) ... you can find Ontario Chardonnay reviews on my website (  If there was one thing I learned for certain on this day:  France still has the touch when it comes to Chardonnay ...

Ataraxia Wines 2009 Chardonnay (South Africa) - smooth and creamy with good balancing acidity (****+)

Chateau de Meursault 2008 Meursault 1er Cru (Burgundy) - ****

Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot Clos du Prieure White Monopole (Burgundy) - ****

Domaine des Deux Roches 2009 Saint-Veran Domaine des Deux Roches Vieilles Vignes (Burgundy) - delicious, creamy and smooth, balances vanilla with caramel apple. (**** 1/2)

Domaine Laroch 2007 Chablis Grand Cru, Les Blanchots (Burgundy) - ****

Josef Chromy Wines 2006 Zdar Chardonnay (Tasmania) - **** 1/2

Maison Alex Gambal 2008 Puligny-Montrachet (Burgundy) - ****

Maison Roche de Bellene 2009 AC Montagny 1er Cru (Burgundy) - ****
Maison Roche de Bellene 2009 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes Dessus (Burgundy) - ****+

Mission Hill Winery 2009 Family Estate Perpetua (British Columbia) - ****+
Mission Hill Winery 2009 Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay (British Columbia) - sweet fruited with vanilla, pear and melon notes. (****)

The Millton Vineyard 2009 Opou Chardonnay (New Zealand) - ****

Vie di Romans 2009 Chardonnay (Italy) - ****

Two of the more interesting Chardonnays from Ontario were from two very different places.  The 2008 Cuvee Dix-Neuvieme Chardonnay from the low-profile Pearl Morissette was wonderful, but with no retail space I can't tell you where you can go to get this wine, a restaurant near you might be one of the lucky ones to have snagged some of this limited edition wine.  The other Ontarian making wine is a name you should all be familiar with Thomas Bacheldar, winner of the Ontario wine Awards winemaker of the year.  Thomas made his name, amongst other places, as the man behind the wines of Le Clos Jordanne ... now we find he has struck out on his own to make his favourite wines (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) in his three favourite places in the world:  Burgundy, Oregon and Ontario.  Here he showed off his Ontario version (Bacheldar Wines 2009 Niagara Chardonnay) that should find its way to Vintages shelves in the new year.

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