This summer I attended two spectacular conferences, the annual Pinot Noir Conference in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration in Niagara. Each festival brings together wines from around the world giving attendees a great opportunity to taste one country and one brand against another while at the same time highlighting the best of their own. The Oregon International Pinot Noir Celebration has run for more than 25 years and it includes workshops, lectures and even movies as part of the festivities and the food, typically catered by celebrated Portland and Valley chefs, is always superb.
Some of the same producers such as Felton Road from Central Otago in New Zealand go to both festivals. Last year wine columnist Matt Kramer from the Wine Spectator said that the terroir in Niagara is very close to Burgundy – no wonder we make outstanding chardonnay.
Both festivals are great parties and, for the serious wine drinker, a superb way to taste special cuvées and wines of limited availability. I’ve created a menu that pairs wonderfully with both wines. The radish appetizer is a perfect match for chardonnay. And pinot noir would bring out all the underlying flavours in the chicken dish. However you could drink either wine with both.