Tuesday, May 13, 2014

From Niagara to Barcelona, a taste of home

13th Street Cuvée 13 Sparkling Brut Rosé Méthode Traditionelle | VQA Niagara Peninsula

A taste of home. My mother came to visit and I could have asked her to bring a number of things. Fresh underwear. Medicine. Even Q-tips. But I'm me and well, I know what I'm about. When I say I 'miss home' I should be more specific - it's not so much missing my townhouse as it is missing the wine, the beef, the weekend trips to Diana's Seafood. Happiness. And while La Boqueria has been a dream, paying €15/kilo for berberechos is stomach-churning.

Of the 22 kilos permissible on economy flights, roughly ½ kilo of my mother's baggage was taken up by this. One of my favourite Ontario wines, the non-vintage sparkling rosé from 13th Street Winery, a blend of 55% pinot noir and 45% chardonnay, mainly from the 2010 vintage. Aged 18 months on its lees, before a dosage of 6 grams of sugar and their reserve pinot noir was added. The wine was aged for another 3 months, to let all the elements integrate. No oak, no malolactic fermentation. Only 2500 6-packs made. Always a joy to drink and share with friends. This whole méthode traditionelle moniker is so abused by New World producers but 13th Street makes it happen. So what exactly does this term mean? Or rather, what should it mean? In this wino's opinion, wines that make this claim are simply saying We want to be a French wine. Which isn't a bad thing. Aim high right? Aim high. Specifically though, this emulation suggests that these wines are made from the same grapes, using the same processes as the French model, Champagne in this case. And we see that. The two most heralded Champenois varieties (pinot noir and chardonnay), using the same riddling and bottle-aging process as in Champagne. You see where this can go horribly wrong right? The whole point of it though, is that no matter the winemaking you apply, the wine still has to have a distinctive identity. I could slap on a beret, pick up a few hand gestures, learn to love stinky cheese, but at heart, I'm still what I am (ie. not French). And that's why I love this wine. It's still a Niagara wine, a Canadian. It has this brightness and purity, along with the leanness that I always associate Niagara with. Finishes dry and linear, with very fine bubbles. What this particular winemaking contributes is an elegance in texture, a delicacy. The wine is at once fine and regal, expressive and complex - it truly has become better and better with every bottle I've had. Bravo!

In the end though, people still unfortunately make comparisons. And yes, people will want to claim that this wine is 'better' than Champagne. Whatever. My Infiniti G could run circles around a 3 Series, but hey, a BMW is still a BMW. They are simply different experiences. And if you can't take it at that, you're not getting the point right? We have to have the capacity to appreciate wines for what they are - some more than others - and an inability to have an imagination, to dream is simply unfathomable to a true wino. I opened this wine with a friend. We talked, we enjoyed sitting in the sun ... we had a great time. And any wine that can encourage that is a beautiful thing. We have to try to stop being impressive and simply be what we are.

Here's to 13th Street - muchas gracias for giving me a taste of home.


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