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Cool Chardonnay, The Hottest Lunch in Town

The Bonne Bouche Luncheon hosted by 13th Street Winery and Treadwell Cuisine, July 21, one hot event of many from The International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration 2012.

Contributed by Vanessa Deeg

Super hot, guests ripened like tomatoes in August under a blazing sun through a glass, greenhouse roof. One can’t help notice the irony, but staff and volunteers at 13th Street Winery managed the obstacles well, by rotating fans and misting guests with spray bottles, which was an incredible relief, echoed by oohhss and awes the entire length of the table. Despite the heat, all you could hear was lively conversation about the food and wine, business cards and handshakes being passed between guests, as well as complete adoration about the food and drink on offer. MC’s led tastings through 15 incredible Ontario, B.C. and International Chardonnays, which were paired with decadent and elegant dishes created by Chef Stephen Treadwell and his team. Guests had the pleasure of meeting with several wine makers and winery representatives who discussed their craft as they played musical chairs during courses.

For the love of wine’s sake, it was a beautiful thing to compare and contrast several chardonnays side-by-side. It’s astounding to experience the variety and breadth of complexity and different characteristics that can be yielded from a single grape varietal; on account of the soil composition, the wine maker’s technique, and the weather of the year itself. A particularly cold winter gave Cave Springs’ Estate Chardonnay 2010, a crisper, tart green apple taste, while notes of caramel, hazelnut and butter came through in Flat Rock’s Rusty Shed Chardonnay.

All the chardonnays were chosen to uniquely complement particular dishes; hats off to the sommeliers who did an outstanding job. As you drank the wine, and sampled each dish, flavours blended like a sensual dance on your palette. The grand finale course, Brisket paired with 13th Street’s Sandstone Reserve 2010 and Ramey Wine Cellars, in particular, stands out as a daring, challenging sommelier decision. Many wondered how the white wine would stand up to a red meat, but the balance of the phenomenally tender beef in your mouth, that broke apart with a mere touch of the fork, combined with the more subtle, yet, complex, buttery chardonnay, was unforgettable.

The entire meal was fabulous and worth every penny spent. Each course was impeccable, a completely extravagant epicurean feast. Stand-outs were the roasted beet and peach salad with ricotta, dill and hazelnuts, and the coulibiac of lake Huron trout, wrapped in puff pastry with lemon, mustard and egg and topped with capers. The cheese course- a presentation of international cheeses by Afrim Pristine of the Cheese Boutique in Toronto- is what wine country lunch fantasies are made of. Afrim enjoyed almost cult-like status as he announced the unveiling of the Carre- his ‘Sistine Chapel’. This hard-as-a-rock goats cheese was placed in a humidity controlled environment and aged for almost a year, with humidity created by 13th Street’s Sandstone Reserve Chardonnay. The wine then became infused throughout the entire body of the cheese, which made it unbelievably soft, creamy and hinting of chardonnay.

There was so much talent and beauty on offer that despite the challenge of the heat, guests were satisfied, delighted and overwhelmingly impressed. Yes, the ticket may be a steep cost for some ($120+). However, for those curious enough to take the big leap, here’s what can you expect at an event like this: amazing food by talented chefs, equally as talented wine makers showcasing their best vintages, the opportunity to learn a few things, and meet like-minded, intelligent people, passionate about food, wine and Niagara.

Local’s Picks of the event: Everything Treadwell. The meal was delicate, fresh, flavourful and innovative- locals were so proud to claim both the Treadwells and the peaches as their own. Flat Rock Cellars, The Rusty Shed 2009 – prominent notes of caramel, clean acidity and minerality. Evolved nicely in a open glass, even in the heat of the sun (something to think about in an afternoon soiree). Malivoire Wine Co. 2010 – smooth, subtle caramel notes. Also handled the heat nicely. Jackson Triggs, Delaine Vineyard 2011 – distinct and sophisticated, woody, spicy. And finally, Southbrook, Poetica 2010- a lyrical complement to the show-stopping finale cheese course. An appropriately fitting finish to a beautiful afternoon.

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