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By: Levi Reiss
The Tawse Winery is a family-owned enterprise located on the lower slopes of the Niagara Escarpement. The Canadian Wine Access magazine named them Canadian Winery of the Year in both 2010 and 2011. They do lots of wines including two ice wines and one sparkler. Some of their wines, but not this one, are biodynamic. Their retail store and tasting bar are open seven days a week. Today's companion wine is another Ontario, Canada Chardonnay, this time an unoaked one at half the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Tawes Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula 2009 13 % alcohol about $20.

Let's start with the marketing materials. "Tasting Note : Tawse continues to bring its A-game with the Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay. Mineral, peach, red apple and a hint of sulfur come through on the nose. It brings great length on the medium-bodied palate, with red apple, peach and mango flavors, while staying fairly focused and avoiding flabbiness. This wine won a gold medal at the Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards. Score - 90. (Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson, at the Wine Access Canada website, Nov. 7, 2011) " And now for my review.

At the first sips the wine offered light oak and was somewhat sweet. Japanese rice crackers brought acidity to the fore. My initial meal centered on a paprika dusted barbecued chicken leg. The Chardonnay's oak stood out but there was some mango. When it met brown rice garnished with wild rice, the drink's oak was still present, along with acidity and caramel. The side salad of cucumber, tomato, broccoli sprouts, red onion, red peppers, cilantro, and pecans rendered our Canadian friend too oaky. I did notice some acidity. Upon pairing with fresh pineapple it tasted of oak, and caramel.

My next meal involved a boxed Baked Ziti Siciliano doused with grated Parmesan cheese. Now this wine was semi sweet and its oak was semi tamed. I tasted some smoke. The side of Edamame beans, whole kernel corn, carrots, roasted red pepper and spices brought out the strong taste of caramel. Dessert time: With fresh strawberries this drink didn't have much taste except for you know what. When it met bittersweet chocolate I noted a touch of sweetness.

My final meal featured a baked Atlantic salmon filet in a soy sauce, cumin, garlic, black pepper, and Agave marinade. The wine responded with strong caramel. It was round and oaky. The side dish of eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and Portabello mushrooms rendered the oak almost out of control.

Final verdict. I won't buy this wine again. To be fair, I have tasted more expensive Chardonnays that were even oakier (read worse).


Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but frankly prefers drinking fine German or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and the right people. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his wine website with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.
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