Recently, I was in Ontario at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration to give the keynote speech (title: The Theory of Cool). Over the course of 3 days, I tasted a slew of chardonnays and sparkling wines that blew me away. Our neighbors to the north are making some of the most vibrant wines in the New World. For the most part the chardonnays are wines with lift and elegance; wines with a vibrational core of crispness; wines that are mouthwatering and fresh.
Most of the wines at the conference were from Ontario and Nova Scotia; only a few were from British Columbia. Here are the ten wines that made me change the way I think about chardonnay.
- BENJAMIN BRIDGE Brut 2011 (Nova Scotia) $40
You have to try this to believe it. Stunning freshness. As close to Champagne as anything in the New World. The winery is on the Bay of Fundy which has the highest and strongest tides in the world.
- LIGHTFOOT & WOLFVILLE “Ancienne” Chardonnay 2014 (Nova Scotia) $32
Light fresh peaches-and-cream style.
- JOIE FARM Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2016 (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia) $20
Limey, juicy, long. Could drink it all day.
- CREEKSIDE ESTATE WINERY “Queenston Road Vineyard” Chardonnay 2015 (St. David’s Bench, Niagara, Ontario) $20
Vivid and fresh.
- BACHELDER Bachelder Chardonnay Wingfield Block Wismer Vineyard 2013 (Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario) $36
Lovely and precise.
- NORMAN HARDIE WINERY & VINEYARD “Cuvee Dix” Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario) $120 (Magnum)
Savory, minerally, limey, fantastic.
- INNISKILLIN NIAGARA ESTATE WINES “Montague Vineyard” Chardonnay 2014 (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario) $20
Tight, fresh, crisp.
- RED STONE WINERY Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (Niagara Escarpment, Ontario) $24
Just plain delicious.
- PELLER ESTATES Chardonnay 2015 (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario) $16
Minerally snappy and citrusy.
- TAWSE WINERY “Quarry Road” Chardonnay 2013 (Vinemount Ridge, Ontario) $30
Creamy; lovely; not overdone.
A sad postscript: arcane wine laws in both Canada and the United States mean it’s next to impossible (currently) to buy Canadian wines in the U.S. But if you go to Canada anytime soon, you MUST try wines from Ontario, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia. The prices are approximate.