Tasting Tawse wines: a mid-winter delight

Established in 2001, with the state-of-the-art winery opening in 2005, Tawse Winery is family-owned, and has placed a strong emphasis on organic and biodynamic production of premium, quality wines. While the winery has its own vineyards—Cherry Avenue, Quarry Road, Hillside, Tintern and T&V—located in the sub-appellations of Twenty Mile Bench, Vinemount Ridge and Lincoln Lakeshore, it also sources grapes under long-term agreements from quality growers in the Niagara area.

The grapes are hand harvested and hand sorted, with the wine crafted using a gravity flow system. Under the direction of winemaker Paul Pender, the winery focuses on creating extraordinary wines of depth and richness that express the terroir and character of the vineyard and the varietal. A winery owner of uncompromising standards, Moray Tawse is also a wine aficionado. Through his association with consulting winemaker, Pascal Marchand, Mr. Tawse has now ventured into winemaking in Burgundy. Pascal Marchand is a Montréal native and internationally acclaimed winemaker who has lived in France for over twenty years.

Operating from their cuverie and cellars in Nuits-Saint-Georges, the two long-time friends and business associates will distribute the existing Pascal Marchand line of wines under the Marchand & Tawse label, and are committed to expanding their range of Côtes de Nuits and Côtes de Beaune wines. Wines by Pascal Marchand have been released through Vintages, and I’m sure we can now expect to see more Marchand & Tawse wines in the LCBO.

Tawse winery representative, Daniel Lafleur, recently met with me for a tasting of several Tawse wines, including some new releases. The reputation of this winery is well established—it was recognized as Winery of the Year at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards—and these wines did not disappoint.

The Savvy team of Sommeliers look forward to featuring Tawse wines in Savvy Selections wine of the month club this year.  All the more reason to subscribe to this wine delivery service – premium wines handpicked by Savvy Sommeliers & delivered to you at home or at the office. 

Cheers & enjoy my tasting notes!

Tawse ‘Misek Vineyard’ Riesling 2009
VQA Twenty Mile Bench $21.95 10.5% alcohol
Pale straw, this beguiling off-dry offering from Tawse was a gold medal winner at Intervin. Supple and round, it offers fragrant aromas of apricot, citrus and mineral that develop in the glass. Sweet stone fruit captivates on entry, while a lively lemon-lime acidity refreshes the palate. The finish is clean, bright and mouthwateringly good. A treat for the senses, it will certainly evolve over the next 3-5 years. Available only from Tawse.

Tawse Riesling 2009
VQA Niagara Peninsula $19.95 10.0% alcohol
Drawing on fruit from four Niagara Escarpment vineyards, this is another award-winning wine. Expect lovely floral, tree fruit and citrus aromas which lead into a basket of citrus at first sip—grapefruit, lemon and lime—racing across the palate on a spine of vibrant acidity. There’s great intensity here, and a lasting finish with lingering mineral notes. A fine match for pan-fried cod with a squeeze of lemon and a candidate for medium-term cellaring. Available only from Tawse.

Tawse ‘Quarry Road’ Chardonnay 2008
VQA Vinemount Ridge $34.95 (111989) 13.0% alcohol
From a certified organic and biodynamic vineyard at the top of the escarpment where the limestone is very accessible, this dry medium-bodied Chardonnay is a true creature of its terroir, graced with minerality from the first whiff through the lengthy finish. Add to the minerality, complex aromas and flavours of tree fruit, vanilla and light toast. The finish re-emphasizes the creamy texture and the wonderful balance of well-integrated oak, lively acidity, clean ripe fruit, and that underlying zesty minerality. Enjoy now or cellar medium term.

Tawse ‘Quarry Road’ Gewurztraminer 2009
VQA Vinemount Ridge $24.95 13.0% alcohol
Fragrant with aromas of rose water, lychee and tropical fruits, this classic exemplar of the varietal is in fine balance.  The texture is subtly oily, the acidity is fresh, minerality tantalizes the palate and the flavours appeal—imagine a bowl of tropical fruits and cake spice drizzled with a dash of lime.  All is in harmony through the finish, where an appealing slightly bitter note of citrus rind lingers. Available only from Tawse.

Tawse ‘Laidlaw’ Pinot Noir 2008
VQA Vinemount Ridge $44.95 13.0% alcohol
Subtle aromas of berry fruit, earth and spice waft from the glass of this ruby-hued new offering. Dry, medium bodied, structured and lively, the wine displays perceptible tannins and a backbone of vibrant acidity. Enjoy layers of flavours—red cherry, berry, earthy beetroot and underbrush with some hints of toast—and a persistent fresh finish. A match for chicken and sausage with olive or cellar mid-term. Available only from Tawse.

Tawse ‘Cherry Avenue’ Pinot Noir 2008
VQA Twenty Mile Bench $57.95 13.0% alcohol
Another gold-medal winner, this wine is the product of estate-grown fruit, 40% of which was whole cluster pressed. Deep ruby, the aromas are enticing—floral, black cherry and nuances of spice and earth. Medium bodied, dry, it’s beautifully balanced—a wonderful spine of clean acidity, well-integrated ripe tannins and nuanced flavours of red fruit, earth, white pepper and spice. On the palate, intense and impactful through the lasting fresh dry finish. It will cellar medium-term, but you’ll want to drink it now! Available only from Tawse.

Tawse ‘Van Bers’ Cabernet Franc 2008
VQA Creek Shores $47.95 13.5% alcohol
Elegant and complex, this deep red wine has an enticing array of aromas—vegetal, forest floor, black berries, toast and hints of chocolate. Dry, structured, medium-full bodied, the tannins are firm, the acidity fresh and the flavours layered. Field berries, herbal and earthy notes, along with hints of black pepper and toast carry through on the lengthy finish. For this robust wine, prime rib would be in order, or cellar 5-7 years. Available only from Tawse.

Tawse Riesling Ice Wine 2009
VQA Twenty Mile Bench $34.95 (200 ml) 10.0% alcohol
Golden, this intense wine has luscious aromas of honeyed stone fruit, tropical fruits such as pineapple and guava, and ripe citrus. The tasting experience is like a soft wave pouring across the palate, from silky sweet stone fruit on entry through fresh lemon-lime on the mid-palate, and the harmony of both riding the spine of fresh acidity through the intense, refreshing, longlasting finish. A lovely match for Ontario artisanal cheese or with apple/pear flan. Available only from Tawse.

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