Announcing WineAlign National Wine Awards Winery of the Year
Four-Peat Sake! Tawse Winery of Niagara Does it Again
By David Lawrason
Winery owner Moray Tawse and winemaker Paul Pender have harvested Winery of the Year honours at Canada’s largest wine competition again this year, the fourth time since 2010. Tawse Winery is on a roll, with five gold medals in this year’s showdown, plus eight silver and eight bronze medals.
The National Wine Awards Winery of the Year identifies consistency of quality across a portfolio of wines, and the numbers tell the story.
Five gold medals, scoring 90 points or better over multiple rounds of judging, were squarely focused on pinot noir and riesling from Tawse’s organically farmed Niagara Escarpment vineyards in the Vinemount Ridge and Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellations of Niagara. The top scoring Tintern Road 2013 Pinot Noir is new to their ever-expanding universe, but good luck trying to find a bottle as it also shone at the Ontario Wine Awards earlier this year. The most widely available gold medalist is Tawse 2014 Sketches Riesling, currently at LCBO VINTAGES stores.
“The announcement of the winners of Canada’s most complete and in-depth wine competition is always greatly anticipated by everyone in our winery” said Moray Tawse. “It is the final summation of all the efforts we put into farming our vineyards, the exacting work in the cellars and the expression of the uniqueness of our terroirs”.
The 16th annual WineAlign National Wine Awards were held this year at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre in the heart of the Okanagan Valley in late June. Over 1,500 wines were tasted blind (producer, origin, price hidden) by 21 wine critics and educators from seven provinces, plus guest judges Dr. Jamie Goode of the U.K. and Elaine Chukan Brown from California. There were 16 platinum medals awarded (outstanding), 103 golds (excellent) and many, many more silver and bronze medals all identifying ‘very good’ wines.
The runner-up for Best Winery, and winner of the award for Best Performance by a Small Winery (less than 10,000 case annual production) was Lake Breeze Winery, located on the Naramata Bench of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Co-Chief judge Anthony Gismondi profiles Lake Breeze here.
Each year the results are tallied to seek out the wineries consistently making the best wines. The top five scoring wines from each winery are assigned a ‘performance score’ weighted by medal ‘worth’. As well as determining the top winery by this method, WineAlign has published a list of the top 25 wineries of the 230 entered in the competition. This is hallowed territory and rankings in the top ten went 50-50 to British Columbia and Ontario wineries.
Tawse Director of Viticulture and Winemaking Paul Pender, who was in the first graduating class of Niagara College’s Winery and Viticulture, has been at Tawse since 2005. “It is such an honour to receive this most prestigious award” he said. “Our continued success is a testament to our dedicated vineyard and winemaking team. I feel so fortunate to work with such a talented and dynamic group of people.”
Tawse Winery was launched in 2002, with the vision of creating top quality Niagara wines, farmed organically and biodynamically. Owner Moray Tawse had been a long-time fan of wines from Burgundy, and from the outset consulted with viticulturists and winemakers from France and Canada who shared the same passion. Mr. Tawse now owns vineyards in Burgundy as well, and recently opened Redstone Winery and restaurant in Niagara.
The original Tawse wines were made primarily from old chardonnay and riesling vineyards he purchased on Cherry Avenue, which forms the boundary of the Twenty Mile Bench and Beamsville Bench appellations. Through acquisition of adjacent escarpment sites, then others farther afield on the Niagara escarpment, the Tawse portfolio has expanded rapidly in the intervening years. No one in Ontario is bottling as many site-specific wines as Tawse, giving voice to the diversity of the landscape across many styles of wine.
And no else in Ontario, apparently, has been able to bring such a consistently high level of quality to as many labels. Tawse is an encyclopedia on Niagara wine, terroir and its evolution, and bravely forging the path for the future.
Congratulations to Tawse Winery and all the winning wines in this year’s Nationals.
We would like to acknowledge the following sponsors: Post Hotel and Spa Lake Louise for the glassware used throughout the judging, and Container World for shipping and logistics. A special thank you to Jason Dziver for the above images, as well as for each and every Awards bottle image appearing our site. You can see more of his work at Jason Dziver Photography.