Canadian Wine Insider – August 2022

Chardonnay Will Define Us

By David Lawrason

It is ironic and important that Canada is likely to be defined on the world stage by the world’s most popular and ubiquitous white wine grape. Couldn’t we have found something sexier and more exotic, like Austrian gruner veltliner or Greek assyritiko? Or sieggerebe from B.C.’s Lake Country, as was originally envisioned in the late 70s?

Well, as it happens chardonnay really likes the latitude, climate and soils that Canada has to offer. And because everyone knows chardonnay, not assyrtiko, let’s just tally-ho and carry the gift horse shoulder high. I am certainly on board because great, or even very good, chardonnay is my favourite white wine. And Burgundy needs some serious competition within its stylistic wheelhouse.

Chardonnay is already a big deal in Canada. There were 186 chardonnays entered in the National Wine Awards of Canada 2022 competition held in Niagara Falls in June. It was the largest category at the awards. A whopping 137 won medals. There were four platinum, 30 gold, 58 silver and 45 bronze medals. With more than half scoring 90 points or better, the quality across the board is very high.



In her analysis of the Chardonnay category at the 2022 NWAC, veteran wine judge Treve Ring of Victoria made this comment. “On the first morning of blind judging I had two chardonnay flights, and in both the panel and I awarded gold medal scores. It’s indicative of the strength of the category, proven by an outstanding four Platinum Medals this year (split between Ontario and B.C.), and a treasure chest full of gold and silver awards.”

The “Chardo Swap” at I4C in Ontario

The annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (I4C) that runs in late July in Niagara is also helping cement our reputation in international circles for chardonnay made in Ontario, with B.C., Quebec and Atlantic Canada joining in. Born from the passion for chardonnay in Niagara in 2011, it took the very progressive step of inviting cool climate chardonnay producers from around the globe, to partake and put Canada on the map.

This year the educational session called School of Cool was led by an inspirational, mellifluous address by British wine writer Andrew Jefford. Great writing and elocution should inspire, if nothing else, and Jefford delivered the kind of performance that makes one marvel and reflect. There was nothing daringly new in his words, but there was a beautifully constructed music allegory and an ordering of the wine universe that made utter sense. The address is available here.

Ontario

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2019, Twenty Mile Bench

Tawse Chardonnay Quarry Road Vineyard 2019, Vinemount Ridge

Stratus Chardonnay Unfiltered & Bottled With Lees 2020

Stratus Chardonnay Unfiltered & Bottled With Lees 2020, Niagara Lakeshore

Bachelder Wismer Foxcroft "Nord" Chardonnay 2019

Bachelder Wismer Foxcroft “Nord” Chardonnay 2019, Twenty Mile Bench

Leaning Post Chardonnay Grimsby Hillside Vineyard 2019

Leaning Post Chardonnay Grimsby Hillside Vineyard 2019, Lincoln Lakeshore

Broken Stone Chardonnay Home Farm 2019, Prince Edward County

British Columbia

CedarCreek Aspect Collection Block 5 Chardonnay 2019, Okanagan Valley

Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay 2020, Okanagan Valley

Quails’ Gate Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay 2019, Okanagan Valley

Foxtrot Chardonnay 2020

Foxtrot Chardonnay 2020, Okanagan Valley