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During a recent family vacation in Niagara Falls, I had the chance to discover and drink many Canadians wines. After a family visit to Niagara Falls, I visited briefly Niagara on the lake.

Winemaking in Niagara goes back as early as the 17th century when European settlers started experimenting with native grapes.  By prohibition, there were more than 60 wineries.  The early days of the industry were focused on the native grape varieties, such as Niagara, Concord and Catawba, which produced musty and funky wines.

However, Ontario’s wine industry took off in the mid 70’s when the Canadian government deregulatized the industry. This brought a plethora of experimentation with new winemaking techniques and saw the introduction of European grape varieties.

Bordered by Lake Ontario on the north, the Niagara River on the east and the Welland River and Hamilton to the south and west, the Niagara Peninsula is the largest and most diverse Viticultural Area in Canada.  

The escarpment was formed over 200,000 years ago by several several glacial and interglacial events that defined the geology of the area. The area is blessed with different soil compositions that include diferents sand and silts and layers of sedimemtary rock. The area is particularly conducive to grow cool grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Riesling and Chardonnay. However, more than 30 varieties are grown.

Niagara Peninsula  enjoys a cool climate with important variations between diurnal and nocturnal temperatures.  The peninsula has 10 sub-regional appellations and more than 55% of Ontario wineries are found there. Here we find Tawse, Malivoire and Cave spring winery, the states that I visited during my vacation.

Tawse is a family-owned organic and biodynamic winery, voted best Canadian winery, three years in a row ( 2010, 2011, 2012). 

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Out of his love for Burgundy and terroir , Moray Tawse created a state of the art winery  A fervent advocate of terroir, he crafts wines that do best on the escarpment. The winery is state of the art, boutique style. I was under the impression that everything was done with the most meticolous care.

 Time was limited during my tasting, so i tasted a staff selection. Overall, I was impressed with the wines. I am sure in a blind tasting, these wines could have pass for Burgundy and Bordeaux.

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Chardonnay 2012 Beamsville Bench VQA

 On the nose, nice herbal undertones and quite mineral driven. On the palate, flavours remind me of almond biscuit, butterscotch and white orchard fruit. Full body, fresh,  and quite enveloping in your mouth. Oak well integrated. Elegant. In a Burgudian style.

Tawse 2012 Chardonnay Twenty mile bench VQA

Totally different from the previous one. Bright nose with confit orange peel, peach and pear jam accents, Flinty and refreshing with a good backbone. Balanced in the oak at the finale.

Tawse 2015 Riesling Vinemount Ridge VQA

 On the nose, baked apple character, quince,  and membrillo dessert with touches of  mango. Crisp and very refreshing. Perfect  roundness with a  zesty acidity. Racy and harmonious.

Reds

Tawse Pinot Noir 2011 VQA Twenty Mile Bench

Dark cherry with  cocoa, old spice. sun dried tomato. showing some lovely tertiary aromas: mushrooms such as shitakee and porcini with the highest quality. Structured and elegant with ripe tannins. A very earthy finale reminding me of smoked beef jerky. 

Tawse Cabernet Franc 2012 VQA  Creek Shores

 Textbook cabernet franc nose. Nuances of  bell pepper, black plums and cocoa. Lavish  french oak undertones.  On the mouth, superb polished texture with smooth and silky tannins. Amazing cashmere finale.

Tawse Meritage 2012 VQA Niagara Peninsula

A  bordeaux in disguise. Blackcurrant fruit, dark cherry, rasperry, licorice and chinese plum sauce. On the mouth,  racy and austere with quite the muscular tannins.