Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Niagara Peninsula Ontario Winery Visit: Tawse Winery

Another in our series of reports on Niagara Peninsula wineries from our visits last month.
If we had visited only one winery during our trip to Ontario and it was Tawse Winery, the trip would have been well worth it. We visited more than 20 and that goes to show the high regard we have for this winery and its superb lineup of wines.

We had grouped the wineries into clusters to simplify our itinerary. One cluster was to the west of Beamsville and we visited six wineries there. Tawse was the first winery in the second cluster of five wineries to the west of Vineland. Approaching the Tawse the striking architecture of the winery building lets you know in advance that this is going to be a truly remarkable experience. The winery has a six-level gravity flow system so that the wine can flow gently from pressing to bottling. Organic and bio-dynamic growing techniques are used. To reduce costs and the carbon footprint, the winery relies on geothermal for 80
percent of its energy needs. The winery is built into the hillside and the wines are aged in cellars covered with about eight feet of earth.

Stepping inside you see a  swanky tasting bar with Riedel glasses and a floor to ceiling wall of windows that enables you to look into the fermenting room with barrels and glinting stainless steel tanks. It reminded me of the New York Marriott Marquis except instead of looking out onto Times Square you are looking at the heart of the winemaking operation.

We began with the 2009 Quarry Road Gewürztraminer. This is an estate wine with grapes coming from the Quarry Road vineyard in the Vinemount Ridge AVA. This is spicy with floral flavor notes and perhaps a touch of ginger. No question that this would be great with Asian food.

We were ready to dive into reds and the first Tawse red was perhaps the last word in Cabernet Franc. The Tawse 2008 Laundry vineyard Cabernet Franc was perhaps the best Cab Franc we tasted during our Canadian swing. This is an exceptional wine that is plush and organic with an intense nose. This had flavors of black fruit and also tobacco. This
was a wine to relax and spend an evening with. I had prepared some TWAV Award of Excellence cards for our tasting team to award during our winery visits. This wine was the only one to receive that award. It is a true winner! It sells for $29.95.

Our tasting team pushed on in our delightful endeavor, now tasting the 2007 Meritage. This is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, and 27% Cab Franc. It is aged in oak barrels and is full, rich, and complex. It has a beautiful dark color and its flavors mirror that darkness with tastes of dark fruit, rich soil, and pepper. It sells for $57.95 and can be cellared for up to 10 years.

We wrapped up our tasting with a flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon and after a few final minutes soaking up the great atmosphere, headed for our next stop.
Tawse is a must-see. Great people, great winery and winemaking at its finest. Oh, Canada!
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