Tasting Tawse Wines

Canada’s talented wine producers have continued to garner accolades, increase sales and improve our country’s reputation both at home and abroad, in large part thanks to a focus on ensuring grapes grown in each region reflect the terroir – the climate and soil.

A prime example of this is at Tawse, one of Ontario’s most decorated wineries. Moray Tawse’s Niagara winery offers an incredible cross-section of wines — 35 in total via the MWC site alone — in a number of different lines and prices, and is one of the largest producers of organic and biodynamic wines in Canada.

Yet among the dozens of offerings, a focus quickly becomes apparent – specifically on cooler-climate grapes that work well with the terroir found in their 200 acres of vineyards. Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc are the dominant grapes grown by Tawse, with some Pinot Gris as well as a couple Bordeaux-style blends thrown into the mix too.

Winemaker Paul Pender has spearheaded Tawse’s move to organic and biodynamic certification, as well as the winery’s focus on a handful of grape varieties, setting the bar high for Niagara. Tawse was named Canadian winery of the year for three years running at Wine Access’ Canadian Wine Awards, and for good reason — the wines are remarkable examples of the specificity of place in the Niagara Peninsula.

From their Sketches line to their Growers Blends to their single-vineyard offerings, Tawse wines demonstrate a remarkable sense of place – doing a side-by-side tasting of their Pinot Noirs (or Chardonnays, or Rieslings) is a great way to discover the subtle differences between wines from Niagara sub-appellations such as Vinemount Ridge, Twenty Mile Bench, and Lincoln Lakeshore.

Tawse’s work with Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux-style blends is no less significant than their undertakings with Burgundian and Germanic grapes. Their 2010 Meritage is a Merlot-based Bordeaux-style blend with intense dark berry fruit, spice and some firm tannins that would benefit from a big serving of meat or some time in the cellar.


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.

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