Ask a Winemaker
This is the first in a series of ongoing conversations with our winemaker Matt Mavety.
Today, Friday, July 20 from 9:30am - 2:30pm our very own winemaker Matt Mavety has been asked to speak at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Conference (iC4) in St. Catharines, Ontario. He will be representing Western Canada and be part of a panel discussion along with winemakers from several other cool climate Chardonnay regions including Argentina, Burgundy, Australia and Niagara.
Growing up in the Okanagan valley, particularly in the summer, most of us would not have considered cool climate and Okanagan as three words that could be used in the same sentence. However, apparently that is what we, in parts of the Okanagan are considered. Here are the questions we asked.
So what exactly constitutes cool climate?
A cool climate wine region can be located anywhere in the world. A cool climate region is determined by the growing degree days which is the amount of heat accumulation during the entire growing season. A very cool climate growing area might have 1000 - 1200 growing degree days. We at Blue Mountain Winery have between 1200 - 1400 growing degree days so we are considered cool climate. In order to adjust for varying latitude a system was created called Latitude-Temperature Index (LTI).
LTI = mean temperature of the warmest month x (60 - latitude)
And what makes a cool climate so special for growing Chardonnay?
Cool climate allows for the retention of acidity and a slower maturation period. It also can enhance aromatics and have the capacity to produce table wines of distinction. “Cool climates help to preserve acidity which enhances the elegance of fruit around a core of minerality” Seb Jacquey, Winemaker, Le Clos Jordanne, Niagara.
What is unique about Blue Mountain that makes it considered a cool climate for Chardonnay?
1. Topography, at the latitude we are situated.
2. Lake Moderation - Vaseaux Lake moderates early and late
3. Geography - the narrowness of the valley in our section of
Okanagan Falls creates cooler days and in some vineyards a heat
effect from heat dissipated off the nearby rocks.
If you have any questions for Matt please feel free to submit them, and when he isn’t out in the vineyard driving the tractor we will get him to answer them.
The i4C event in Niagara is a great chance for consumers to taste some great cool climate Chardonnay and learn about this challenging grape, and for winemakers to meet and share ideas with other exceptional producers of Chardonnays that flourish under extreme conditions like steeply sloped vineyards, huge annual temperature fluctuations, high altitudes, ocean gales, etc.
All participating winemakers, and many other Ontario winemakers and industry professionals will join with consumers in structured tasting, interactive discussion and luncheon.
Catena Zapata (Argentina) – Assistant Winemaker Pablo Sanchez
Flowers Winery (Sonoma Coast, USA) – Director of Winemaking Jason Jardine
Blue Mountain Vineyards (BC, Canada) – Winemaker/Proprietor Matt Mavety
Decelle-Villa (Burgundy, France) – Winemaker Jean Lupatelli
Yabby Lake (Australia) – Director of Viticulture Keith Harris
Duarte Oliveira (Niagara, Canada) – representing Grape Growers of Ontario
Craig McDonald (Niagara, Canada) - Hillebrand