Tawse Winery, Niagara peninsula (Ontario)

All I knew about the Canadian wines before coming to Ontario was the inevitably Ice wine made from this country. Weather conditons with harsh winters are producing all the factors needed in order to produce this kind of wines. You need the grapes to be harvested  at night at -8°C .  So,  no need to say that it is requiring  a special logistic before hand to satisfy this niche market .

Niagara peninsula vineyards

At the London wine fair some years back, I had the chance to discover the wine production from Canada. At that time, I remember, I wasn’t so impressed by the quality I could taste there.   Things seemed to have changed since then in a better way.

I should have met with Sara Jensen for the visist of the winery, but unfortunately with a cough, she was unable to comment the tour. We will nevertheless meet and briefly talk about the Biovino tasting in Toronto where we met for the first time a month and a half ago.  Instead, Kevin Knapp, a student from the area, will kindly guide the visit and show me around.

Starting with Kevin before it gets too hot, going to the chicken coop, which we see in the back

On a very warm sunny day

When we pass the gate at the entrance of Tawse Winery, we can’t miss the pond and its bullfrogs singing and hiding amidst the  water vegetation . These frogs are now in Europe.  In France, I know that they are causing trouble because of their size and their overpopulation. They are originally from the american continent and they came unnaturally  in Europe in a new and different ecosystem not so long ago. They are ten times as big as the regular green frogs you find commonly in France, and not having any predators there, they are eating all the food of the smaller frogs living also in such wet areas, when not eating them directly.

Kevin took me to the vineyard to start with  to avoid the scorching heat of the day. The oldest vines  of the estate are 28 years old from the Chardonnay grape variety, but the first vintage underTawse‘s name came in 2001.

A swim in the pond to cool down ?

In the middle of the vineyard, you can find a chicken coop from where some eggs are sold also from the wine shop. I see it as only a family back yard production and the chickens can’t satisfy the manure production required for the estate. Nevertheless, they bring an another dimension to the vineyards with the animal aspect.Sheep, which we won’t approach today are also to be seen on the vineyard.

The winery has been designed in a way to avoid pumps from the harvest til the bottling stage. It has 6 floors  and uses gravity at every stage of the wine making process.

From top to bottom, a natural wine fall

It is cooled down by a water circulation pipe going from the bottom of the 25 feet deep pond – and collecting the freshness from there – to the winery for cooling down the cellar. In this way, they are saving 85% electricity.  The grey water from the winery goes to a biofilter where specials reeds are growing and naturally filter the water, which is then  released to the pond.

The barrel cellar using geothermal refrigeration

Better than the human hand ?

When entering the fifth floor from where the grapes are coming from during the harvest, we come  face to face with the dynitizer, a copper made mixer made for stirring  biodynamic preparations automatically.  This is where we find a vertical and a membrane press too.

Barrels to be cleaned on the mezzanine

At the top floor, we find the oak vats, then  we find the thermoregulated stainless steel tanks, the middle floor is the mezzanine with the barrel cellar, and then the final  fermentation stage for the reds and the whites are at the bottom.

A stainless steel barrel used to top up wooden barrels in the cellar

Among the ten wines we’ll taste, I’ve  prefered the reds VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Cabernet Franc 2007 with a dark red colour, animal, full in the palate, harmonious,  with character,  for 47,95$  and the VQA Twenty miles bench Pinot Noir 2007 for its juicy texture, fine acidity, delicate balance and clean expression of the grape variety for 31,95$ CA.

Wind from the lake and cool climate are suitable for this grape variety

Pleasant wines worth discovering

Hidden secret kept inside the barrel cellar

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Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 11:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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