The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

Next stop: Tawse Winery

I was very excited to visit Tawse, because during the 2012 International Wine Fest in Vancouver, my favourite wine of the night was their 2010 Sketches Riesling. It won Gold at the 2012 Canadian Wine Awards, and Tawse won Winery of the Year in 2012 for the third year running. I willingly admit, I was looking forward to seeing what this winery had to offer. After all, until recently, there was NO way of getting Ontario wines out to BC – unless you flew or drove, bought some, and brought it back.

Tawse was certified organic and biodynamic in 2010, although they have been practicing these farming techniques for a very long time. As posted on their website, their philosophy states:

We use organic and biodynamic farming techniques to ensure the health of our vines and the vitality of our soils.  Biodynamic farming is an approach that sees the vineyard as its own self-sustaining ecological entity  It’s based on traditional agricultural practices such as planting and harvesting at certain points in the lunar calendar.  Much of our fruit is sourced from old growth, low yield vines, giving our wines great depth, richness and character.

I had set up an appointment at the winery through Daniel Lafleur – their National Sales Manager – and although Dieter wasn’t there by the time the group made it in due to the snow, we were taken good care of by Ken. We tried a wide range of Rieslings and Pinot Noirs — all of which were beautifully unique and distinct.


Looking into the tasting room.

As it turned out, that wine tour turned into a “Riesling” day. At Tawse, we were able to try 4 of their 6 listed Rieslings. Their 2011 Wismer Foxcroft Single Block Riesling was a wine to savour! Notes of candied apples, pink grapefruit, petrol, and citrus juices combined to accentuate the hint of petillance that graced the glass. It was tart, but not offensively so. With only 1330 bottles made, one would be foolish not to scoop up a bottle.

The 2011 Quarry Road  Estate Riesling carried more petrol notes than the Wismer Foxcroft, which I enjoyed. It was mouth-wateringly tart at mid-palate, and bursts of sour peaches and green apple were vividly present. The minerality in this Riesling was tongue-catching; distinct and chalky, as the website states, “limestone minerality is detected”.

Our friendly host, Ken!

Our friendly host, Ken!

Onto the 2011 Tawse Riesling, this wine leans more towards a typical new world Riesling. Its off-dry style complements the lemon-lime notes and mineral nuances. The fruit in this Riesling was combined from a number of different sites, whereas the above two were from select areas of land owned by Tawse. Easy drinking and approachable, this Riesling is good to enjoy at any time of year or day (past noon, of course!)

Last, but not least, the 2010 Sketches of Niagara Riesling was poured into the glass. Save the best for last, right? The flavour profiles in this Riesling are well-developed. Bursting with notes of lemon juice, pear, grapefruit, tart apple, and a minerality that produces a long length, this was joy in a glass. Of course I bought some!


Barrels and barrels and barrels, oh my!

Next was a flight of Pinot Noir. I personally adore Pinot Noir, and I wish more people enjoyed it. It is one of the most finicky varietals to grow, and it also is one of the most faceted varietals which, depending on its development, can show anything from youthful bright fruits to mushroom and gamey notes.

Tawse’s 2009 Laidlaw Vineyard Pinot Noir showed classic notes of cherries and raspberries, but there was something internally different about the bouquet, which I couldn’t entirely put my finger on. I deciphered it to be an aromatic note of roses. Strange, I know. The palate was dry, with notes of sour cherries, firm acid, light in body, and with a graceful mineral finish.

2009 Quarry Road Estate Pinot Noir was next on the line-up. A lovely representation of red fruits, medium tannins, and high acid, this Pinot Noir was earthy, and had essences of cherry cordial, with a salty-like mineral finish. Just gorgeous.

Onto Cherry Avenue – the street where the winery is located. The 2009 Cherry Avenue Estate Pinot Noir combines sweet red cherries, blushing, ripe raspberries, black cherry, and currant on the bouquet. The palate reveals cherried earth, hints of mushroom, and a dusty minerality. Holy Moses, that was good.

The private tasting room for wine club members.

The private tasting room for wine club members.

In addition to the lovely Riesling and Pinot Noir that my group indulged in, we were pleased to sample Tawse’s 2011 Quarry Road Estate Gewurztraminer which boasted of allspice and tropical fruit with a long finish. Their 2011 Sketches of Niagara Rose was a glass of raspberries, cherries, and bubblegum with medium acid. I bought a bottle; it was juicy! Lastly, their 2009 “Spark” (a sparkling Chardonnay) was done using the traditional method and spent 30 months on lees. With high acid, its tartness balanced out the apple and chalky minerality in the glass. The bouquet was soft and flowery with hints of yellow apple and white pear. If you’re a fan of sweeter wines and IF can get your pretty paws on a bottle, why not try their 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine? You can thank me later.

Thank you to Tawse Winery, and to Ken, our lovely host, for a phenomenal tasting experience and your kind hospitality.


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