With its sixth year running, The annual I4C International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration has come to St. Catharine’s Ont. This event took place at the beautiful White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa. I was invited to attend and could not wait to be among the elite of wine makers. As most of you who know me, my forte is culinary not wine making, so I was anxious to see what I was about to get involved with.
Like a lamb being led to slaughter, I was overwhelmed by the amount of wine makers & master sommeliers in the same room as me. I am not easily intimated, but I was a little bit at the amount of knowledge of wine all around me. As I sat down, I am presented with a number of wine glasses filled with Chardonnay, ready for my lesson to begin on the effect that Cool Climate has with the making of this delightful wine, I have enjoyed numerous times in my life with many culinary dishes.
As I sip and smell the aromatic scents in each small amount and taste the different bouquets, boldness & gradual taste in each one, I am also being taught that these wines are made in different temperatures and climate is a major factor. As I listen to the speakers they inform me that the look, age, and ability of the grape plays a large factor in harvesting as well. I find myself deeply engrossed as each speaker explains their process of wine making. This symposium had speakers from all over the world, Canada, Italy, France, Australia, Chili, U.S.A, & Greece just to name a few.
I listen very carefully to each word being spoken from the panels mouths, from the importance of each step taken to produce that special bottle of wine for us to enjoy. Stems vs. Whole Berries the aging ability of Chardonnay, right down the argument of Cork vs. Twist Top. I spoke briefly with Mr.Ian D’Agata editor of Decanter Magazine and we spoke about the old Italy and new, also about being brought up Italian and we laugh a little bit. I also said hello to Master Sommelier, Wine Critic, & Author Mr. John Szabo who was our MC for the day, and made the day very comfortable with his dry humor and wine professionalism. Mr. Szabo even mentioned that a survey taken proves left-handed people are better wine tasters, what can I say the guy knows his stuff. I imagine at a time the wine industry was quite a man’s world, but in today’s society it was a pleasure to listen to a few women wine makers such as Sandrine Audegond Head of Fine Wines in Chablis France.
Ms. Audegond was astounding in the way she spoke about the making of Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots, how each crucial climate step taken from the moment they pick the grapes to the bottling of this crisp, sharp, gold and lightly tinted green Chardonnay. This was one of my favorite Chardonnay to enjoy.
I think to myself that each person in this room, is either a wine professional, just learning the craft, or an advent wine lover. Never the less we all had to start somewhere. So I guess what im getting at is, I found it a little difficult when speaking with some of these wine professionals, how ignorant I was treated in not knowing the same language they did. You should never judge someone on whether that person knows your industry or not. We are all there to learn and understand the art of the wine industry. Be careful what you say, we may meet each other in another life and my knowledge may exceed yours.
Never think you are better than someone, the bottom line is we are all one of the same. For those of you who did take the time to speak with me, and expand my knowledge of wine making, thank you. I left the symposium with a better understanding of how the wine industry functions, and I look forward to visiting your wineries. As a colleague of mine put it wisely, in the wine business its Passion vs. Business sense and just seeing all the wine makers and wineries all around this fabulous event, it is absolutely a labour of love.
It takes much courage to open a business, let alone a winery. I also had one wine maker tell me. Only those who have courage could harvest. This is very true, because once you have harvested the grapes you can’t go back. This is how a master wine maker presents a sophisticated bottle of wine.
So what did I take away from The School of Cool?. Wine making is a very complex industry. There are many steps involved in wine making. So the next time I open a bottle of Chardonnay, I will understand a little more on how that bottle made it to my table.
What do I4C….many more visits to learning symposium’s, just like the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration, many more visits to the wineries, & my wine glass never being empty.
Thank you to everybody who I had the pleasure of meeting. I look forward to seeing each other again.
Also to White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa. Your Venue was enchanting and your staff was right on point with everyone’s needs.