Tawse – Be Inspired!

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Tawse Winery

–  June 2015 –

In the 13 years since starting Savvy Company, I’ve met numerous fascinating people in the wine industry. Beyond their love of wine, the common thread is that everyone enters into the wine world from a different route. Each month we share these stories in the Savvy Selections eZine. The following pages hold tidbits that would start an interesting conversation at a cocktail party or around a dinner table.

My introduction to this month’s winery – Tawse Winery – would begin with the exciting news that they have been named ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’ by Canadian Wine Access Magazine in 2010, 2011 and 2012. And they are the only Ontario winery so far to achieve this acclaim.  The people that have built this reputation have interesting routes that make up the story that we are eager to share with you this month.  Naturally, Tawse’s beginning has not changed since we last featured the winery in 2011, yet the story of their growth and constant commitment to put Canada on the world wine map has evolved.

The story of Tawse Winery is all about a young man, Moray Tawse from Alberta, who worked at a resort where he ‘fell’ into the role of wine steward…and his route into the wine world.  Eventually in 1988, he co-founded (and continues today to lead) a financial services firm while dreaming of owning a vineyard in Burgundy, France. Luckily for the Canadian wine industry, fate kept this dream on Canadian soil.

Enamored with Burgundian wines, he was amazed by the outstanding Chardonnays made in Niagara (Sommelier tip: white Burgundy wine is 100% Chardonnay). After researching the Niagara wine scene, he purchased property in 2001 and his winery dream began to take shape.

Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins has a keen personal interest in organic and biodynamic wineries. She naturally gravitated to the Tawse story.  With all of the intricacies of the subject of organic and biodynamic, we’re sharing with you her interview with the Tawse team from our 2011 issue of the Savvy eZine because no one can eloquently explain organic like Susan can! Pop open the Spark bubbly or crack open the seal on the wines in this month’s Savvy Selections & enjoy the wines while you read more about Tawse.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Limestone Ridge ‘Spark’ Riesling VQA 2013, $19.95 – Tawse’s signature sparkling wines – refreshing, dry bubbly that would is perfect enjoyed as you relax on your deck or your dock.

Quarry Road Vineyard Gewürztraminer VQA 2013, $24.95 – a BIG, beautiful, white wine loaded with concentrated aromas & flavours.  You’ll thank us for including this gem.

Gamay Noir VQA 2013, $18.95 – Medium bodied with warm smoke & red fruit flavours that would be perfect for simple BBQ fare like burgers, sausages & ribs.  At this price, they are giving this wine away!

All of the awards & recognition has drawn the attention of wine lovers like you & me to Tawse wines. At one time the price tags of their wines were untouchable (several wines still are!), yet recently, it appears that more of their wines are at an accessible price point.  We are confident that you’ll be impressed with this month’s selection.  At these prices, if you would like to stock up…simply give us a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange a special delivery for you.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Tawse Winery

 Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

To visit Tawse is to be inspired. Their uncompromising commitment to the vines, the grapes and the soil, respect for the environment and their stewardship of the land will be rewarded with the excellence of outstanding wines.

When Moray TawseMoray Tawse (in photo) purchased the estate in 2001, he obtained existing vineyards – some with vines planted in the 1970s and 1980s. As he built his new winery with the old vines, he selected sites that offered unique terroir, for instance the Quarry Road site which is at the top of the Niagara escarpment, where the limestone in very accessible and minerality shines through. (try the Gewürztraminer we included to find these minerality notes)

As he was building the winery, he called on renowned winemaker Deborah Paskus to lead the winemaking team because her Chardonnay single-handedly changed his mind about establishing a winery in France and lay down his roots in Niagara instead. Paul Pender, fresh from Niagara College’s Winery & Viticulture program, joined as assistant winemaker. When Deborah decided to move to Closson Chase Winery in Prince Edward County, Moray then called on his long-time friend, internationally renowned consulting winemaker Pascal Marchand to assist with the 2005 vintage. With the French influence & more experience under this belt, Paul soon took the helm and brought in Rene van Ede from Australia with a palate extraordinaire. Paul and Rene are still the dynamic winemaking team today and the industry recognized their talent in 2011 when Paul was named Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards.

Known for his ‘non-interventionist as far as possible’ approach to winemaking, Paul has overseen both Tawse’s organic and biodynamic certification processes. His is a steward, watching over the vines and grapes, ‘keeping them safe and then letting the wine express its sense of place’.

Moray repeatedly explains in media interviews that the vineyard location is critically important. He is proud of the terroir that he has as it is similar to the region of Burgundy, France…and is one of the reasons he believes to invest in vineyards in Niagara.

Growing a Biodynamic Business

The state-of-the-art building is nestled into the Beamsville Bench along the Niagara Escarpment, housing an impressive six-level gravity flow winemaking operation. Underground cellars maintain the ideal temperature and humidity for barrel aging, while minimizing its impact on the environment. The geo-thermal energy system has reduced consumption of traditional energy by 80%, and the wetland bio-filter system ensures that all sanitary and winery waste water is recycled.

Biodynamic farming – as we explained in last month’s Savvy eZine featuring Southbrook Vineyards, is referred to as “extreme organics” – is the practice of ever increasing ecological self-sufficiency on the property (similar to last month’s featured winery – Southbrook Vineyards). The Tawse estate is farmed organically with everything done by hand. Biodynamic farming and winemaking techniques have been implemented – Ecocert and Demeter seals appear on all Tawse wines made from biodynamically cultivated fruit (note the Gewürztraminer).

The biodynamic approach has the principal focus on treating the vineyard as an ecosystem where all the components are a self-contained integrated whole, dependent upon each other for long-term health and vitality. Those components include biodiversity, soil fertility, crop nutrition and disease/pest control.  As an example, hedgerows are planted to attract specific insects, while cover crops are planted in the vineyard to prevent erosion and compete with the vines for nutrients, driving the roots down into the mineral layers of the soil. Various farm animals roam through the vineyards to eat weeds or excess vine foliage, their manure providing natural enrichment for the soil. And periodically horses are used for harvest to minimize soil compaction.

In the winemaking process, the guiding principal is to celebrate the terroir. With the changing weather of each vintage, Paul spends much of his time in the vineyard monitoring the health and quality of the fruit, sugar and acidity levels. Flexibility and quick reaction time is required, given the unpredictable climate – but this is what makes each vintage unique. In addition to the gentle process ensured by the gravity-flow system, wild yeasts are used wherever possible, and the same type of oak is applied in aging wines so that the unique qualities of the vineyard come through. The Tawse winemaking staff rejoices in the nature of cool-climate wines: ‘We’re an acidity-friendly winery,” states Rene, the assistant winemaker. Their goal: to create elegant, bright, pure ‘old world’ style wines.

And Moray’s dream of making wine in Burgundy is now coming to fruition as his friend Pascal Marchand has begun to operate a cuverie (winespeak: vat room) and cellars in Nuits-St-Georges, France.





Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling VQA 2013, $19.9513_Spark_Limestone_Ridge_Riesling

Tawse was one of the first Ontario wineries to make a bubbly using Riesling grapes…and their sparkling wines grace many restaurant wine lists. Respecting the Riesling grape, Paul continues with his non-interventionist approach from hand harvesting the grapes to leaving the wine to create itself.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Zippy with notes & tastes of lime, white grapefruit, crab apple & minerality tied up with a brioche aroma (think raisin Danish pastry) makes this bone dry bubbly refreshing.  The persistent and elegant mousse makes you yearn for another sip…then another bottle!

Suggested Food Pairing: “All you need is a hot day”, remarked one of our Savvy Sommeliers.  Chilled down before popping the cork, this bubbly will be fantastic on its own, with summertime , sushi, oysters, lacey parmesan cheese crisps…or a picnic!

Cellaring: Pop the cork now or cellar for 2-3 years


13_QuarryRoad_Gewurz_LargeTawse Quarry Road Gewürztraminer VQA 2013, $24.95

We are excited to showcase this wine as not many wineries in Ontario grow Gewürz grapes nor make a good wine.  The vines are grown in an area where the soil is uniquely composed of both limestone & clay soils.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Bursting from the glass with absolutely delicious and pretty aromas tropical fruits (think mango, guava, pineapple), white flowers and juicy apricots.  These continue in the taste with loads of pear, honey (or is it marmalade?) and smooth mouthfeel.

Suggested Food Pairing:  A dish with heat will be softened with this wine. Fish tacos, Phad Thai, or Indian red curry.

Cellaring: No need to wait – enjoy now


Tawse Gamay Noir VQA 2013

In its 3rd vintage & only 5000 bottles made, mark my word that this wine could be sold out by the time you want more! Perfect for summertime enjoyment as Gamay grapes produce a light to medium bodied wine ready to pair with anything off the grill or slipped into a picnic basket.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Fire engine red in colour, this warm red wine, ‘reminds me of roasted red peppers’, stated Debbie during the panel tasting. There is a race between the tannins & acidity as you swirl it in your mouth while tastes of cherry, pomegranate & smoke develop. A medium bodied red wine with a long delicious finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ! This is perfect with anything off the grill – vegetables, burgers, spicy sausages or saucy ribs. Rather than one BBQ recipe, we are giving you 10 rub recipes to try over the summer.

Cellaring: Enjoy now and stock up on several bottles…



With Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling…

Rosemary & White Bean Dipwhite bean dip - serious eats
From Serious Eats
Serves 4 – 6


1 (15 ½ ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Photo credit: Joshua Bousel, Serious Eats


Place beans, garlic, and lemon juice in the work-bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until beans are roughly chopped

With motor running, slowly pour 1/4 cup of oil through feed tube. Process until mixture is smooth.

Transfer bean mixture to a small bowl. Stir in rosemary, lemon zest, and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Serve with Greek pita wedges or pita crisps.


With Tawse Gewürztraminer

Firecracker Shrimp & Mango Avocado Dip

From the kitchen of Debbie Trenholm

Serves 4 to 6

This was served at a cocktail party and after the first bite, it of those “I got to have this recipe” moments. The exotic ingredients playfully complement each other and Gewürztraminer wine will enhance the flavours this appetizer to rave reviews!

Firecracker Shrimp – Ingredients

Freshly ground black pepper
Sesame oil
Sambal sauce (a Thai/Vietnamese red chili sauce – sold in bottles)


Quickly cook shrimp in boiling water and then cool under running water.  Remove shells.

Toss with sesame oil, pepper, salt, a sprinkle of white sugar and Sambal.

Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Ingredients – Mango & Avocado Dip

1 ripe mango, peeled and roughly chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
1-2 tablespoons of liquid honey
Juice of 3-4 limes
1 teaspoon salt


 In food processor combine grated ginger (or chop knob of ginger in food processor first), mango, jalapeno, honey, avocado and lime juice.

Add vegetable oil and salt.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Chef Tip: Try to achieve a balance of ginger, acid (lime) and sweetness.


With Tawse Gamay Noir…

10 Top Rubs for BBQ-ingMemphis_style_Rib_Rub

Everybody has a favorite way to prepare meats for BBQing.  Many of these recipes aren’t written down, rather by feel. To break away from using your ‘tried and tested’ marinade or rub, in true Letterman style, here are the top 10 recipes that are consistently favorited on aboutfood.com’s web site:

  1. Kansas City Rub
  2. A Carolina BBQ Rub
  3. A Sparerib Rub
  4. Memphis Rub
  5. Best Odds Brisket Rub
  6. Magic Dust
  7. Memphis Style Rib Rub
  8. Basic Pork Rub
  9. Best Odds Pulled Pork Rub
  10. Brisket Brown Sugar Rub

Photo credit: Regarding BBQ Inc.

Check them out at http://bbq.about.com/od/rubrecipes/tp/aatp042607a.htm.
There is a recipe there for everyone!

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

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