One of the most memorable components of last year's International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C) were the winery lunches. With vineyard tours, tastings, paired lunches and a chance to break bread with the winemakers, they really capture what the celebration is all about.
This year there are eight lunches showcasing the cuisine of some of Ontario's top chefs and the global and local wineries participating in i4C. Each of the lunches focuses on a different aspect of Chardonnay's multifaceted personality. They are a fantastic opportunity for attendees to tailor their i4C experience by exploring an aspect of Chardonnay they've always wanted to know more about or focusing on what they already love.
One of the lunches that caught my eye was Rosewood's Wild About Chardonnay. For the past few vintages Rosewood has embraced the special qualities that wild or natural yeast can bring to its wines. For them the texture, aromas, and depth of flavour that can be achieved by using indigenous yeast in the winery and on the grapes delivers something extra that Rosewood considers special. So when the opportunity came to host a lunch at its Beamsville Bench estate, staff knew exactly what the theme should be.
As social bee, responsible for marketing and sales, Krystina Roman explained, winemaker Natalie Spytkowsky, operations manager Will Roman and the winemaking and vineyard team like to do team tastings for their own education. They find that wines fermented with the natural yeasts tend to bring something special to the glass, so they came up with the idea of showcasing natural or wild fermented Chardonnays for their i4C lunch. To find the perfect pairings the winery collaborated with chef Michael Patso of the bistro at Beamsville's Good Earth Food and Wine Co. The goal of the menu was to create complementary dishes that feature wild foods to go with these wild-fermented Chardonnays. Guests can look forward to a lunch in the barrel cellar featuring dishes like wild mushroom duxelle pinwheels paired with Chardonnays from Le Clos Jordanne and BC's Blue Mountain, and cedar planked lake trout served along side Rosewood's Wild Ferment Reserve Chardonnay. The winery is also a meadery so expect to see some dishes incorporate its fine Niagara honey.
According to Roman, the lunch is also a great opportunity to showcase its newest release: the 2010 Natural Ferment Reserve Chardonnay. From the warm 2010 vintage, this Chardonnay manages to balance the bright, vivid flavours of that year with the Beamsville Bench's signature cool climate elegance. A cocktail of fragrant citrus, just picked-from-the-tree stone fruit and toasty oak spice entice you deep into the glass. Take a sip and you'll be rewarded with creamy lemon curd, juicy yellow peach and a touch of tropical pineapple, vanilla and barrel spice on the finish. There's a medium plus feel with a satisfyingly rich, but not heavy texture, likely owing to the wild barrel fermentation and sur lie aging. That's nicely balanced with medium acidity. It's a Chardonnay that's drinking very well right now, but should develop nicely over the next year.
Lunch will be proceeded by a vineyard walk and winemakers from BC, California, Chile, Oregon, Niagara and Prince Edward County will be there to converse with attendees about why they are passionate about wild or natural fermentation and what makes their cool climate region a special place for Chardonnay. The intimate setting of being able to not only taste with the winemakers, but have a meal and converse with them over lunch, is one of the standout aspects of i4C and is something wine lovers shouldn't miss. Plus having a fantastic four course lunch paired with eight top flight cool climate Chardonnays doesn't hurt either.
2010 Rosewood Reserve Chardonnay, Natural Fermentation
Rosewood's Wild About Chardonnay lunch
Date: Sat., July 21st 11:00-3pm
Ticket Availability: Online
Written by Mike Di Caro
Michael Di Caro covers all things vinous at Spotlight. His lover affair with Ontario wine began over a decade ago and he’s been in front of tasting bars trying to sweet talk staff into pouring a taste of a library wine or the latest unreleased bottle ever since. Since good wine can’t be made without great grapes, you can also catch him amongst the vines trying to persuade the winemaker into revealing his/her next big thing for you on Spotlight. His epicurean tendencies don’t just stop in the glass either. During the rest of his free time you can find him searching for the perfect bowl of Dan Dan noodles, exploring the city’s best tasting menus or baking cookies and mucking about in the kitchen.