I was already a pretty big fan of 13th Street Winery before attending i4c last month. Their hosting of the incredible Barrels & Bonfires event at their Niagara winery kicked off a fantastic weekend of festivities of all things Chardonnay in a serene, casual atmosphere filled with incredible food, music and, of course, wine.
Their gorgeous 40-acre Niagara property and party-hosting aside, there’s a lot to like about Doug and Karen Whitty’s winery. Founded in 1998, the winery’s emphasis on cooler-climate wines such as Gamay, Chardonnay and sparkling wine under the guidance of winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas shows a commitment to working with the grapes best-suited to the climate and soil.
Granted, the winery does a great job with bigger red wines as well — their 2010 Meritage, for example, is a dense, structured Bordeaux-style blend that shows just how well Niagara can do this style of wine under the watch of a skilled winemaker. The 2011 Reserve Syrah, meanwhile, provides great complexity and structure that recalls the more elegant Rhône Valley reds.
But to taste what 13th Street is all about, start with their pink wines, bubblies and lighter reds (as well, of course, as their elegant, complex Chardonnays). The 2013 Pink Palette is a generous, fruity rosé made from Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir, Merlot, and a splash of Riesling.
The Cuvée 13 Non-Vintage Sparkling Rosé is made from traditional Champagne grapes - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay - and in the traditional method employed in the legendary French wine region. It was poured at the i4c Cool Climate Chardonnay World Tour, where it (and other excellent Chardonnay-based bubblies) showed brilliantly with the selection of oysters being served.
And whether you choose the 2012 June’s Vineyard Chardonnay or either the 2010 or 2011 Sandstone Reserve Chardonnay, you’ll be able to taste what all the fuss is about when it comes to cool-climate Niagara Chardonnay. It’s all about balance – fruit and oak, texture and acidity, and so forth – and 13th Street Winery brings it in spades, with a tip of the hat to fine white Burgundies with a distinct Niagara twist.
* Get in on our 13th Street special with $4 off the 2011 Pinot Noir. Sale ends August 31 or until this limited release runs out! *
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson paid his way through school hucking cases at wine shops. He’s now the weekly wine columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, and judges at wine competitions across the country. He Tweets & Instagrams @bensigurdson.