13th Street winery celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018. It was started in 1998 by four friends who were amateur winemakers, two of whom were grape growers. After a decade, they sold to the current owners: John and June Mann, and Doug and Karen Whitty. Both of these couples are Niagara locals, farming and growing grapes, as well as having other business interests. In 2009 current winemaker Jean Pierre (JP) Colas joined and grew the production from 2500 cases to its current level of 25 000 cases.
The original winery focused on traditional method sparkling, Riesling and Gamay. Indeed, they were one of the early advocates of Gamay, a variety that’s gone on to do well here. 13th Street is almost an estate-based project and around 85% of the grape needs come in from the five estate vineyards, totalling 46 acres. But they also buy in some Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay and Pinot Noir).
Winemaker JP Colas comes originally from Chablis, and was for a while head winemaker at Michel Laroche. He left Laroche in 1999 and has worked a number of other places, including some harvests in Beaujolais, before moving to Niagara to work for Peninsula Ridge, before moving here.
‘Gamay is big here,’ says JP. ‘But there is an even bigger story about sparkling.’ His winemaking style is to work reductively and uses a lot of lees, so these wines often need time to show their best. These are consistently good wines, and the best are really impressive indeed.
13th Street Blanc de Blancs 2016 (not disgorged yet)
100% Chardonnay. 25 year old vines in Creek Shores, from the L. Viscek vineyard. Lively, fresh, complex and intense with lovely fruit. Complex and balanced with dense citrus fruit and a mineral edge. Very exciting.
13th Street Cuvée Rosé NV
2014 vintage Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gamay (as a red wine, which helps with the colour and fruit flavour). 7 g/l dosage. Good solid pink/red colour. Fresh and expressive with red cherries and nice texture. Lovely fruit expression. Supple, fruity style with a bit of sappiness. 90/100
13th Street Premier Cuvée NV
2012 base vintage, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a bit of 2011 and 2010 reserves. 60 months on lees. No malolactic or oak, no dosage. Fresh, linear and a bit pithy with dense citrus fruit. Compact with good acidity and nice freshness. Very appealing. 89/100
13th Street Riesling 2015
He original vines from 13th Street, almost 30 years old. Picked late. Small crop and quite ripe this year. Stainless steel fermentation, kept on fine lees. Nice citrus drive with a hint of honey and toast in the background. Crisp and linear with a slightly sour edge from the acidity, finishing with lemon and wax notes. Intense stuff: a really good dry Riesling. 90/100
13th Street Riesling 2009
Very cold vintage. Really vivid and intense with some citrus fruit, a bit of apricot, a hint of marmalade and some subtle creamy, toasty richness. Dry with high acidity and a nice fruit sweetness. Shows nice complexity. 91/100
13th Street Essence Riesling 2016
Trial in old 500 litre barrels: started with four casks and eliminated two, so just two bottled. Apple, pear and spice with nice citrus fruit. Has lovely acidity with a subtle nuttiness. Quite mineral with nice mouthfeel and acidity. Lovely focus to this. 93/100
13th Street June’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
Alcoholic fermentation and malolactic in tank, no barrels. Fruity and a bit nutty with smooth pear and white peach fruit. Lovely subtle fruit with nice texture. Has a purity to it with nice underlying acidity. Harmonious. 90/100
13th Street June’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2012
Complex and a bit nervy with some tangerine and spice notes, with a nice citrus core, some pear richness and a bit of a pithy, herby edge. Slightly bitter on the finish. Still quite youthful. 89/100
13th Street June’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2011
Nice weight and density here with pear, baked apple and some mandarin orange notes. Has a smoothness to the palate: fruit driven with some generosity, and a sense of harmony. 91/100
13th Street L. Viscek Vineyard Chardonnay 2016
Starts fermentation in tank, cool, and then goes to barrel. 228, 400 and 500 litre barrels, small proportion of new oak. Complex with nice density. Has nuts, spice and pear with a bit of fennel. Good concentration here with well integrated oak. Beguiling with some real complexity and a bit of tension: it has richness, but also some restraint. 92/100
13th Street Gamay 2016
2000 cases made. Mostly Creek Shore with some purchased fruit and some other bits included. Destemmed. Juicy and lively with lovely sweet raspberry and cherry fruit, with a bit of crunchy structure. Pure and fruity with nice brightness. Has good acidity with vivid fruit. Floral and delightful with freshness and acidity. 91/100
13th Street Whitty Vineyard Gamay 2017 Creek Shores,
Fresh and reductive with a slightly weedy, plastic edge to the nose. But tasting through this, you find lovely elegant cherry and raspberry fruit. Hard to taste now, but this has lots of potential. 92/100
13th Street Sandstone Vineyard Gamay Noir 2015
Gravel/sandy soils from Four Mile Creek, old vines, picked late, destemmed, punched down. Then goes to French oak, none new. Concentrated, intense and structured with a spicy, grippy core, and sweet cherry and plum fruit. Has some savoury, cedary detail, a bit of oak sweetness and lots of structure. Give this time to integrate: there’s a lot of substance here. 92/100
13th Street Sandstone Vineyard Old Vines Gamay Noir 2009
A very cool vintage. Smoky, spicy and savoury with some cooked meat character. Juicy, lively and intense with high acidity and some subtle earth and leather character under the bright berry fruits. Has real intensity. Plum and damson characters. Distinctive. 91/100
13th Street Essence Syrah 2013
13.5% alcohol. Tight and reductive with nice black cherry and plum fruit. Supple and elegant with nice focus and weight, together with some floral elegance. Lovely wine. 93/100
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