County Terroir, Tawse, Lifford Highlights

County Terroir, Tawse, Lifford Highlights

Long weekend coming up! For a getaway, head east to Prince Edward County’s Terroir Wine Celebration at the Picton Crystal Palace on Saturday, May 20 from 1 to 7 p.m. Jamie Kennedy, who owns a vineyard in the County (no wines yet) will be among several star County-focused chefs pairing up with County wineries who are showing their new releases. Stay over and tour wineries the next day. Tickets and info at There has been a spate of County events in recent weeks, and with all the activity one wonders if they will run out of their tiny amounts of wine by mid-summer. The following Saturday, May 27, the 7th annual Ontario Fruit Wine Festival is on at Archibald Winery & Cider House Golf on Liberty Street north of Bowmanville.

Tawse Family Winery of Niagara recently showed its new vintages to trade and media with a tasting at the Summerhill LCBO store, followed by dinner at Didier, co-hosted by Toronto-based agent Rob Jull of Vinifera Wine Services.Moray Tawse opened his multi-million dollar vertical winery on the Beamsville Bench last year, launching a line of $25 and up, old vine, low yield, riesling, chardonnay, cabernet franc and pinot noir by well-known, macro-winemaker Deborah Paskus. Her 2003 chardonnays are richly textured and loaded with leesy, spicy, peach pie flavours—with the Tawse 2003 Chardonnay Robyn’s Block ****($48.00 winery or Vinifera) showing better acidity, structure and length, than the softer but still powerful Tawse 2003 Beamsville Bench Chardonnay ***1/2 ($42.00 Winery or Vinifera). The Tawse 2003 Cabernet Franc ***1/2 ($29.00, winery only) is lighter and a bit greener than the ripe, elegant 2002 that took top Cab Franc at the 2005 Canadian Wine Awards; but it has seamless texture, charm and sour raspberry-cherry fruit that worked magic with Chef Didier Leroy’s perfectly rendered cornish hen. Best food and wine match of the week!

Lifford Wine Agency, one of Toronto’s most important purveyors of consignment wine held its annual portfolio tasting recently with over 30 winemakers jetting in from around the globe. A wonderfully ambitious and generous event, but so much wine and too little time. Why is it that Toronto can’t mount a full-day tasting starting at 10 a.m. and finishing at 10 p.m.? Many wineries do this and then do it all again the next day too. It would give enthusiasts from all walks of life a full window to get serious. This is not to pick on Lifford, but rather the custom and regulation around Toronto’s tasting culture—which seems to be more about jamming bodies in than properly airing the goods.

I investigated the Bordeaux section, almost a forgotten entity at public Toronto events. I was delighted to find appealing suppleness, ripeness and charm in some of the 2002s, an overlooked vintage that was weak in parts of Europe but better in Bordeaux than expected. Of special note: Chateau Pibran 2002, Chateau Pichon-Baron 2002 and Cos d’Estournel 2002 (not rated as these were quick sip rather than review tastings). Other highlights were Weinbach 2004 Pinot Gris Altenbourg from Alsace, the Felton Road 2003 Pinot Noir from Central Otago in New Zealand. For prices and availability go to, the best consignment Web site in town.

The New Zealand Wine Fair has outgrown its old Alice Fazooli’s venue and moves downtown into the Design Exchange on Bay Street south of King on Tuesday, May 23. This promises to be the biggest yet, with hundreds of wines (again crammed into too few hours), plus a chance to preview over 20 NZ wines being released at Vintages on May 27. For tickets go to Come back next week for wine picks and food matches right here.