The dog days of summer continue. Toronto, and the GTA, finally enters stage three of re-opening the city with pandemic procedures in place. Perhaps you are remaining tucked away from it all, in the places like the Muskokas. Buy local: Ontario is making some fabulous, world-class cool climate Chardonnays worth celebrating.
For as long as you possibly can you should enjoy the short, but satisfying summer season. To cool off, you’ll need to restock your white wine cellar while firing up the grill. And make sure your hammock still works!
In fact, you may already know of its’ annual celebratory wine event (exclusively Chardonnay-focused) held in Niagara every year. The International Cool Climate Chardonnay Festival is known for hosting key local, and international boutique wineries from around the world in cooler climates producing top-notch Chards.
The event is intended to promote awareness, and educate wine enthusiasts on why those cool climate wine regions are producing Chardonnay with class – locally and abroad. Flaunt it if you’ve got it!
Buy local: Chardonnay worth celebrating
This year’s event, of course, was virtual – the very first ever #i4CAtHome.
You can check out all sorts of educational cool climate Chardonnay-related videos. These are held by wine experts, educators, and master sommeliers from Canada, and around the globe. So you can take it all in from the comfort of your own home. But you may need to buy local and order a few cases of Ontario Chardonnay to believe for yourself what the hype is all about.
No shortage of quality local options
Thankfully, there is no shortage when it comes to well-made Ontario Chards that you can’t find at the LCBO.
There are premium, top-quality, low production boutique wines at your fingertips. These are all made by passionate, ambitious winemakers with discerning palates. On top of that, they use sustainable farming practices as much possible with the environment foremost in mind.
Skip line-ups, and buy local by ordering winery direct. Niagara, Prince Edward County, and even Eastern Ontario are making some exciting, high quality white wines. They are strikingly reminiscent of old, world Burgundian-style Chardonnays. When it comes to soil and microclimates across Ontario, we’ve got what it takes!
Pearl Morissette “Cuvée Dix-Neuvième”
Chardonnay, 2017, Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara VQA, $48
Iconic French winemaker François Morissette, who has trained in Burgundy, France, is known for his minimal intervention, low-sulpher wines. He also has a laissez-faire approach of letting the purity of his Niagara wines speak for themselves.
His liquid art delivers! Every. Single. Time. Which is why they sell out fast – with only 1142 cases made of the 2017 vintage. Expect a rich bouquet, full of fleshy-stone fruits, perhaps reminiscent of Niagara free-stone peaches. The wine is also mixed with subtle spicy nuttiness, and doughy aromas from the wild yeast used during the fermentation process. The texture is rich, the body is full. The feeling is luxurious. Buy local here.
The Farm Chardonnay
2018, Niagara Peninsula VQA, $25 (a steal!)
Perhaps one of the most elusive, under-the-radar boutique wineries in all of Niagara. It focuses solely on Burgundian grape varietals: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Expect flavours of red delicious apple, anjou pear, meyer lemon, and honey. There are also loads of chalky minerals in the 2018 Chardonnay.
There are subtle hazelnut cream and spice notes from minimal French barrel-aged influence, and a lengthy, full-bodied finish. Sometimes a treasure hunt to find, but worth the effort. Start here.
Nicholas Pearce “Crew Sauvauge” Series, Chardonnay
2018 Niagara Peninsula, VQA, Mixed Case of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, $239.40 per case
Premium Toronto consignment wine agency Nicholas Pearce Wines offers a number of local, and international boutique wines you can’t find at the LCBO. Order online direct from their site. These are for Burgundy lovers, who want to try some Canadian new world examples. Try out a split, mixed case (six of each) “Crew” Niagara Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The grapes are locally sourced from Twenty Mile Bench, Lincoln Lakeshore and Vinemount Ridge sub-regions. The blend is a mixture of organic, biodynamic grapes, combined with sustainable farming practices. The Chardonnay and Pinot clusters see wild ferment yeast, and reasonable oak treatment with a mixture of new and old barrels.
The result produces an overall balanced richness, another reason to buy local. The texture of both wines holds refreshing acidity, and a minerally fresh finish, boasting limestone and red-clay rich Niagara terroir.
Three Dog Winery
Chardonnay, 2018, Prince Edward County, VQA $27
Head to Three Dog in the County, and you will experience warm, friendly proper-county hospitality. Down-to-earth folks, making down-to-earth wines. Their 2018 Chardonnay is an easy summer-sipping white, perfect for a #WineWednesday at the cottage.
Golden delicious apple, pear, melon on the nose, mandarin on the palate with a creamy, nutty texture from the Hungarian oak influence. “Lobstah”, anyone? Perfect with richer seafoods. Order it here.
“Carp Ridge” Chardonnay, 2018, Carp Escarpment, VQA, Eastern Ontario, $39.95
Wait … There’s a vineyard in the Ottawa Valley? How is that even possible with their winters? By burying their vines like neighbouring wineries in P.E.C!
Not to mention dedication, and diligence that only a winemaker with 20+ years experience could navigate alongside collective teamwork.
The original founders of the winery were shocked to discover the elements of the land bear the same clay loam and limestone soils. These are the same favourable ones that are found in Burgundy, France for premium winemaking. They found up to four times the mineral content in the soils in comparison to Niagara following their research.
The region surprisingly shares the same latitude of Chablis, France. And that is arguably one of the most respected cool climate Chardonnay producing regions in the world, adored for its mineral characteristics.
Carp region’s first VQA-certified chardonnay
Winemaker Brian Hamilton, (formerly of Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara) is making history. He offers the very first VQA-certified (Vinters Quality Alliance), cool-climate Chardonnay of the Carp region that shows green apple, lemon, tart nectarine, and nutty almandine on the nose and palate. It also has undertones of subtle vanilla.
A lighter bodied Chard, chalk-full of pure minerality on the palate from its mineral rich compound, adding texture. It promises long-term aging potential of up to 10 years (or longer with a little patience.) Buy local, and get your case or two now, as only 130 cases are produced of the very first 100% Carp Ridge Chardonnay. Open one every summer, and watch it transcend into its highest potential.