Love Local – 13th Street, A Winery Worth Exploring

We continue to focus on local since we have so many amazing Ontario wineries to explore. This month we feature Niagara’s 13th Street.

The winery is owned by the Whitty family and their patriarch, Doug, is both the President and the Vineyard Manager.  As a 3rd generation grape grower, he takes vineyard management seriously and completely identifies with the philosophy that great wines are made in the vineyard.  It’s a pretty simple equation: great quality fruit = great wine.  That being said, it takes a tremendous amount of work to put it into practice including regular vineyard checks on everything from insect pests to diseases to fruit ripeness.  If you are fortunate enough to meet him, you can tell his love of the land runs deep.

However, you need another individual to ensure the best wines.  That’s a winemaker who shares your passion.  Burgundy trained Jean Pierre Colas is that winemaker for 13th Street.  He believes in guiding that quality fruit through the wine making process with as little intervention as possible, which includes the thoughtful use of new oak versus old oak barrels for his oak aged wines.  You will never find the wine’s fruit hidden behind a wall of oak vanilla in his wines.  He lets the fruit speak to you in all his wines from his value blends like Burger Blend all the way to his stellar sparkling wines.

So, you really need to visit them on your next trip to Niagara.  They are open for wine purchase and tasting and are offering take out fare to enjoy with your wine on the property.  Walk the beautiful grounds while you’re there since there are sculptures on display throughout.

Some of their wines are LCBO available, but more are available only at the winery (Note: they will ship).  My ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.

13th Street Burger Blend White 2018 ★★★½+ $14.95 (LCBO)  I mentioned this previously, but it’s here again to showcase this great value wine. It’s the perfect sipper to enjoy outside in the late summer sun. I’m not sure about serving it with beef burgers, but for a glass before dinner or with chicken burgers, the juicy, off dry lemon/lime flavours will brighten up your gathering.

Grange of Prince Edward County Almanac 2016 ★★★½ $16.95 (LCBO) A white blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Gris all from their vineyards in Prince Edward County.  It has minerals mixed with mouth watering granny smith apple, grapefruit peel, and lemon fruit.  Dry and will work well with as an aperitif or with seafood.

13th Street Vin Gris 2019 ★★★½+ $24.95 (Winery only) A very pale Rose made by pressing whole bunches of Gamay (red) grapes to give the juice just hint of colour. It’s dry, medium bodied with sour cherry strawberry, and raspberry flavours followed by a lemony, rhubarb touch on the finish.  Completely refreshing; great with Thai food or apps.

Malivoire Lady Bug Rose 2019 ★★★½+ $16.95 (Vintages) This justifiably popular dry Rose has been around for about 20 years now.  Its pure, mineral shaded flavours of strawberry, sour cherry, red currant, grapefruit, and lemon will ensure its continued popularity.  Drink it as an aperitif, or with salmon, chicken, or salads.

13th Street Gamay 2018 ★★★★ $19.95 (Vintages) Here we have one of the perfect end of summer reds since it should be served lightly chilled (think cool, not ice cold).   Beautifully fruity and unoaked, but balanced, with plenty of red and black cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and just a little hit of spiced red plum and earth.  Excellent wine to pair with tomato based Italian food or charcuterie.

13th Street Cabernet Merlot 2018 ★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages) The Cabernet in this blend dominates showing red and black currant and raspberry, then the Merlot sneaks in with some red plum.  Add in a little cedar support from the oak and a trace of black currant leaf and you have an enjoyable BBQ wine.  It has more than enough body to pair with red meats and game like bison burgers.

13th Street Pinot Noir 2016 ★★★½+ $27.95 (Winery only) It’s darkish for a Pinot, but delivers on the typical fruit.  Think approachable tannins, raspberry and cherry tinged with smoke, vanilla, spice, and piney forest floor notes.  Mushroom dishes or smoked pork chops with rosemary roasted potato pick up the flavours in the wine nicely.

13th Street Burger Blend Red 2017 ★★★½ $14.95 (LCBO) Big on ripe red fruits, but lightish on tannins; this wine will be the hit of your post summer party (and the bonus is it’s a great value).  It will suit your casual fare, whether it is burgers, sausage, or pizza.

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ★★★★ $21.95 (Vintages) Looking for a red for your grilled Portobello mushrooms or BBQ rib eye?  Look no further than this deeply coloured, richly flavoured Cab from the warm maritime climate of Margaret River, Australia. Dry and full bodied with intense cassis, black cherry, red currant, vanilla, smoke, and a little green herb in the background.

Masserie Pisari Primitivo 2017 ★★★½+ $13.95 (Vintages) Deep ruby in colour, this wine delivers with ripe tannins and intense black fruits like dark plum and blackberry along with some prune, black pepper, and sweet baking spice.  Meaty pizza or pasta will suit, but for some real fun, try it with a well marinated, grilled flank steak.