JoieFarm has worked with Chardonnay since opening in 2004 - we instantly recognized the potential for making bright, ripe Chardonnay in the cool climate, lake-moderated desert terroir of the Okanagan.
We highlight the varietal in a few different ways: Chardonnay brings a rich, biscuit-y character to our Quotidien Brut sparkling; it mimics the bright, fruit-driven spirit of Chablis in our Un-oaked Chardonnay; and, as a barrel fermented reserve, our En Famille Chardonnay embodies the elegance of Burgundian Premier Cru. Each wine showcases a different side of Chardonnay, but all those distinctive qualities come from one special place: the Con Vida Vineyard.
South-west facing on the bluff above Skaha Lake, this giant granite slope acts as a reflective ‘sun dish’ that generates early ripening and ultra-ripe fruit. Being lake moderated, however, the grapes consistently retain a racy edge. The Joie team meticulously farms these 30 year-old vines to encourage those ripe, juicy Meyer lemon and pineapple flavours while still maintaining a backbone of dashing acidity.
We also do multiple picks at harvest, assessing for different characteristics. The first pass is typically for our Quotidien Brut to ensure a low potential alcohol, while our second time through we pick with brisk acidity in mind. By the third pass, we finally have the optimally ripe fruit to provide the body and biscuity-fresh, slightly nutty palate that contrasts Quotidien's blending partner, Riesling.
Our Un-oaked Chardonnay is always an excellent snapshot of both vintage and the Con Vida Vineyard. It is extremely fruit-forward and showcases the ripeness and phenolic development the Skaha Bluff is able to achieve; vines have lots of time past veraison which really encourages those aforementioned juicy pineapple and creamy Meyer lemon flavours. Un-Oaked Chardonnay is a pleasing wine in its own right but we love accompanying it with summer salads, grilled vegetable dishes, oysters and spot prawns.
As a Reserve, the 'En Famille' Chardonnay exemplifies how complex Chardonnay can be. This is achieved by again vinifying and picking multiple lots of the Con Vida Vineyard separately as each parcel matures and ripens. Typical core flavours of lemon oil and hazelnut skins are always balanced by fresh acidity. We further augment this profile with a savoury element courtesy of French oak barrels; smoky coffee bean notes and hints of bacon further increase the wine’s complexity. We enjoy barrel-aged Chardonnay best with umami-driven foods like miso-rubbed corn and chanterelle mushrooms.
Chardonnay can be anything you want in a glass of white wine: accessible bubbly with everyday appeal and price point; crisp, snappy flavours and mouth-wateringly juicy acidity; or display the sophistication that appeals to the Burg-hound in all of us. Moreover, the variety shines in the unique cool climate, lake-moderated desert terroir of the Okanagan Valley. Whatever Chardonnay journey you're on, enjoy the ride!