Celebrate National Chardonnay Day in Niagara

image001National Chardonnay Day is an annual send-up of the world’s most popular and most planted grape varietal. Marked every May on the 21st, National Chardonnay Day is the perfect excuse to book a vacation to Niagara, where you can find award-winning chardonnays from many of our area wineries.

While it originated in Burgundy, France, chardonnay is now grown and produced all over the world. A neutral-tasting grape, chardonnay is heavily influenced by the properties of the oak in which it is commonly barreled and the terroir in which it is grown.

Niagara Peninsula chardonnays have a flavor unique to the region that has made for some truly outstanding wines over the years. Here is a list of some of the best chardonnays in the area that you should imbibe during your National Chardonnay Day celebration.

The Empress by Reif Estate Winery, 2012

An unoaked chardonnay marked by bright citrus, this wine will give you a good sense of what a chardonnay grape grown in Niagara tastes like when it hasn’t spent any time trussed up by oak.

Unoaked chardonnays have been steadily growing in popularity, and while this wine won’t have any of the elements associated with stereotypical, big, oaky chardonnays, there’s something revealing about the microclimate and soil of Niagara in this wine.

Be sure to stop by Reif Estate between May 21 and May 24 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for a complimentary tasting of their sparkling chardonnay — their way of toasting National Chardonnay Day.

Cuvee Catharine by Henry of Pelham, 2009

This sparkling, dry chardonnay is Blanc de Blanc, a bottling distinction reserved for only the finest juices. Hand-picked and entirely estate grown on the Short Hills Bench, it is whole cluster pressed and made according to the traditions of Champagne, which yields a remarkably complex and delicate sparkling wine.

Named after Henry’s wife, Catharine, this chardonnay is one of the least common experiences you can have with the grape. It boasts notes of citrus, sweet spices, baked bread and just a bit of acidity.

The Rusty Shed Chardonnay by Flat Rock Cellars, 2012

image003This Flat Rock Cellars’ chardonnay won a gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2014. Oaked and tank fermented, this complex wine comes from old vineyards along the Twenty Mile Bench, and the result is a big, creamy wine with notes of tropical fruit, hearty nuts, and toast, and it’s acidity is wonderfully balanced.

Enjoy it at the winery, and buy a case to take home. The winemaker’s notes indicate the wine will be improved with cellaring, which is remarkable considering how good it already is.

Village Chardonnay Reserve by Le Clos Jordanne, 2006

A winery that exclusively grows cool weather, ultra-premium pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, Le Clos Jordanne is a joint effort undertaken by the visionary leaders at Inniskillin and Jaffelin. Specialty rootstock was imported from France and planted in vineyards chosen for their terroir. The result is exceptional wine that includes this 2006 chardonnay. Notes of tart apple, earthy nuts, and fragrant peach mark this wine. Its finish is exquisite.

Celebrate the world’s favorite grape May 21 in Niagara at any number of the area’s fantastic wineries. Whether you choose the wines listed above or seek out your own, Niagara chardonnay is definitely worth toasting.