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Unreserved Wine Talk

236 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


108: Holiday Movie Wines + Cool Chardonnay with Brian Schmidt

What exactly is a cool climate Chardonnay? Which dishes are delicious with this style of Chardonnay? What's the most important element for you to discover when tasting wine? Why did Chardonnay become so popular, then fall out of favour? What is the Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with Brian Schmidt, Vice President and Winemaker at Vineland Estates Winery.

You can find the wines we discussed at


  • What are the hallmarks you would find in cool climate wine-producing regions?
  • Why is "cool climate" being redefined?
  • Which traditional cool climate wine regions would you be familiar with?
  • Why shouldn't you compare Niagara and Burgundy wines?
  • How did Chardonnay rise in popularity since the "Anything But Chardonnay" times?
  • Would you experience a difference in Chardonnay styles in recent years?
  • Why would you prefer to pair a light versus a buttery white wine with food?
  • How can you identify minerality?
  • Which element of wine is the most important for you to identify?
  • What type of experiences can you have at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration?
  • Are there certain dishes that you should try with cool climate Chardonnay?
  • What was Brian's most interesting cool climate Chardonnay experience?


Key Takeaways
  • Brian gives us a great definition of cool climate Chardonnay being grown in wine regions that have 1000 to 1450 heat units during the growing season to give the freshest expression of the fruit. It’s also a combination of latitude and attitude. He draws some valid comparisons with Riesling, another cool-climate grape, that also undergoes a cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels.
  • Chardonnay, much like Merlot, fell out of favour a decade ago with the Anything But Chardonnay backlash because it had become both too popular and too homogenous. But Chard is back baby, with a slim new profile and crisp style.
  • Minerality in wine is more of a tingling texture than a taste, though it is often described as wet stone.


About Brian Schmidt

For over two decades, winemaker, Brian Schmidt has faithfully served Vineland’s vineyards and cellars with a steady, farsighted view to promoting complete integration, natural synergies and reduced intervention. This holistic approach has resulted in specific tiers of wines that continue to voice a clear expression of time and place. Brian maintains, “It is critical to understand the soil and site where your grapes are grown while developing a defined, yet flexible frame to react to the curve balls that Mother Nature likes to throw.” Brian continues, “I do have an untamed passion for growing all cool climate varieties, but I must admit that I have a particular love for Riesling and Cabernet Franc.” On mentioning his recent award, he smiles broadly, locks eyes and says in a warm voice, “You do know that I have an entire team of creative and dedicated individuals behind me. The award is clearly the result of the efforts of a team of talented people at Vineland, all working towards a common goal. I was the fortunate one to be able to receive the award on their behalf.”

Brian Schmidt was born in Kelowna, British Columbia and was raised on a vineyard that had been in the family for three generations. The Schmidt family was one of the founding families of the Okanagan wine industry and this was the bedrock of Brian’s interest in winemaking. Brian has experimented, researched and has travelled extensively throughout Europe’s cool climate regions studying winemaking and the specific connections to the land. It is this intensive experience that has resulted in the creation of a winemaking style that has become Vineland Estates Winery’s signature.

Brian is most concerned with how the public receives and embraces Vineland’s wines but the wines have also garnered formal, national and international recognition. One notable achievement was the awarding of the 2003 VinItaly Grand Gold trophy as the highest-scoring winery in a field of over three thousand wines. This was the first time this trophy had ever been awarded outside of Europe. Brian humbly accepts the many honours but is quick to get back to the important business of building Vineland Estates’ reputation for wines that delight and engage by expressing the true essence of place.




To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the

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