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  • Tease Me Tawse

    Welcome, gentle reader, to the much-awaited first liquor column of the New Year. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the many wines you enjoyed last year, and pause to consider the wines you will consume in 2013.

    If you don’t have a plan for your wine consumption already laid out for the year ahead, this would be a good time to think about the Tawse Winery in the Niagara region of Ontario.

    In a record-breaking avalanche of gold medals, the Tawse Winery has won Canadian Winery Of The Year for three years running, a feat which has never before been achieved.

    Your humble narrator first visited the Tawse Winery back in 2010, just a few months before they had won the first in a series of three Winery Of The Year awards, and the wines were splendid even then.

    The first grape harvest from the vineyard was back in 2001, with the first wine being released in 2005. It seems hard to believe that only seven years have passed since then, with past winners having old growth vines that had several decades to mature.

    With over 70 acres under vine, and an annual production of 360,000 bottles, the Tawse Winery is a rising star in the Canadian wine market.

    It is without question that much of the success is due to the care and attention paid by the founder Moray Tawse, whose passion for traditional winemaking techniques shines through in every bottle.

    The Tawse Winery has been certified as both organic and biodynamic, so each delicious drop will go from the vine to your glass without being touched by artificial fertilizers or pesticides.

    The fermentation process in the winery makes use of a six-stage gravity-fed system, to minimize grape bruising and oxidation, which contributes to the vigour of the wine when it reaches your glass.

    For the Geologists in the audience, Tawse also uses a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system for process operations within the winery, and employs a wetland biofilter for recycling all of their water.

    Unfortunately for those reading this column today, a few of their most popular varietials quickly sold out when Tawse was awarded Winery Of The Year a few months back, so the pickings at the moment are a bit slim.

    Luckily, with nearly 50 different wines for sale at price points ranging from $18 to $60, there are still wines available for all palates and budgets.

    While I certainly enjoyed the $59 Meritage (rhymes with heritage) when I sampled it in the tasting room at the vineyard, it’s a bit pricey for a regular quaffing wine. Think of this as a wine for very special occasions.

    For those in the audience not familiar with the Meritage style of wine, it does not actually refer to a particular type of grape Rather, Meritage is the North American version of a Bordeaux; a big and bold red that is favoured by wine snobs the world over.

    Just like the Bordeaux blends from France, Meritage must be made from a blend of at least two parts of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, or Carmenére. The Tawse Meritage is a stellar wine, and tasting it at least once should be on your bucket list.

    However, as a daily drinker, my preferred wine from Tawse is their Merlot/Cabernet blend, which is an absolute steal at only $20.

    The 2009 Merlot/Cabernet release sold out quickly this year, but the 2010 should be released in just a few months. Your humble narrator will be quickly ordering a case as soon as it becomes available.

    If white wines are more to your liking, the Tawse Chardonnay won a gold medal again this year, and there is still inventory to be found at well-stocked liquor stores, or available for online ordering direct from the winery.

    The Tawse Chardonnay has picked up a mineral flavour from the chalky limestone soils in the vineyard, with just a hint of oak from barrel aging to give the wine some structure. The citrus and apple flavours common to Chardonnay are still there, but unlike the overly tart Chardonnays of yesteryear, this is well-balanced enough to leave you with a pleasant aftertaste that lingers after each swallow.

    You will be able to find Tawse wines at most well-stocked liquor stores, or you can order online direct from the winery.