I'm absolutely thrilled to be returning to i4c+, the annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration in Ontario wine country later this month. Last year was my first time attending, and fully enjoyed every component of the event. The scope of i4c+ is grand, and one of the things that impressed me most is how well-organized beach seminar, tasting and dinner was; I'd be hard-pressed to think of ways they could improve.
This year, i4c+ runs from July 21st to the 23rd at various venues across the sunny Niagara wine region. If you can find yourself anywhere near that lovely corner of the world, I highly suggest you take in and event, or two, or three.
Here are just a few things I'm most looking forward to:
Red wine. Whaaaat? Yup - while global cool climate Chardonnay is the focus of i4c+, your palate will have many opportunities to take occasional breaks with Pinot Noirs, Gamays and Cabernet Francs from participating wineries. Plus, don't forget when we're talking Chardonnay, we're often talking sparkling wine, too!
Virginia Willcock. One of my absolute favourite winemakers on the planet will be there, sharing her lovely, lovely wines. Virginia is the Chief Winemaker at Margaret River, Australia's Vasse Felix, and was named Gourmet Traveller's Australian Winemaker of the Year in 2012, and has quite the full trophy shelf for her phenomenal West Coast wines. Personality-wise, she's dynamite, plus her energy and enthusiasm are wildly contagious.
The keynote speaker. Starting everything off at 'The School of Cool – Viticultural and Winemaking Sessions' on the first day is Karen MacNeil, the James Beard Award-winning, renowned author of The Wine Bible. A wonderful choice to set the tone of the whole weekend, I'm stoked to hear her take on things.
The Cool Chardonnay World Tour Tasting & Dinner. The is the BIG ONE; the absolute, can't miss she-bang of the whole weekend. A grannd tasting will feature all 59 participating local and international wineries, followed by an epic multi-course al fresco dinner prepared by regional winery chefs as the sun sets. THEN, there's a post-dinner Chardonnay and craft beer event to liven things up a little more! A steal at $150. Do. It.
There's so much more to take over the course of the weekend. Best to head to CoolChardonnay.org to start making your plans, otherwise you're due for some serious FOMO once the many attendee Instagram posts start rollin'.
For general enthusiasts, there are numerous seminars if you want to get all geeky, or things can be as casual as you'd like at any of the brunches, dinners or tastings. For wine trade, it's so great to catch up with colleagues from all around the world in such a fun, summery setting - I made many new pals last year over a glass or two of the good stuff.
I'll see you in Niagara!
i4c+ runs July 21-23 in Niagara, Ontario. For more information and tickets, visit CoolChardonnay.org