Our Martime neighbour is making waves in the wine world
When we think of Canada’s wine regions the first places to come to mind are the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and Ontario’s Niagara region. If we give it a little more thought, perhaps we would come up with some emerging areas from those same two provinces such as Vancouver Island or Prince Edward County.
There is at least one more part of Canada that increasingly needs to be considered in conversations about national wine production. Our neighbouring province of Nova Scotia has been making wine commercially for about 30 years now, and the industry has been expanding in the last decade.
There are now about a dozen wineries in the province with more than 500 acres under production.
The Okanagan, in contrast, has 20 times the acreage, with the small Okanagan Falls sub-zone being about the same as the whole of Nova Scotia in terms of acreage and wineries. Many large estate wineries around the world would be larger.
Small or not, the wine industry is worth around $200 million annually to Nova Scotia’s economy.
We are more interested in the quality of the wine produced than the statistics above. That quality is dependent on the particular growing conditions found in various zones of the province as well as the maturity of and investment in the wine-making part of the industry.
As a large peninsula in the Northwest Atlantic, with its wineries no more than 20 kilometres from a large body of salt water, Nova Scotia fits within the definition of a cool-climate wine region. In such a place the slower ripening of the grapes allows for more flavour development while good levels of acidity are retained. This is particularly attractive for sparkling wine and white wine production.
Don’t look to Nova Scotia, though, for your regular big, juicy red wines.
The first official wine appellation in Nova Scotia is, in fact, a white wine designation called Tidal Bay.
It requires all grapes in the wine to be from the province and from specific varieties, the wine must be less than 11 per cent in alcohol, and it must meet a level of quality in a blind tasting by an expert panel. The approved wines should be aromatic, fresh and crisp, and pair well with local seafood.
The cool conditions have encouraged Nova Scotia wineries to try a lot of less common varieties and hybrids. In red wines you will find grape names such as Lucie Kuhlman and Leon Millot. For whites you will find Ortega, Seyval Blanc and l’Acadie Blanc.
L’Acadie Blanc has been a particular success and might even be considered the province’s signature grape. The grape is a complex hybrid of several native North American grape species with the international vitis vinifera. It is quite cold hardy and produces a wine of good body, acidity and pleasant aromatics.
Jost Vineyards, one of the longest established wineries in Nova Scotia, has several new listings at the NLC.
One of them is the Coastal Vineyards White (NLC $15.99) which is a blend of l’Acadie Blanc and Ortega. The Ortega adds just a touch of muscat-like floral aromas to a wine which has good acidity, medium body and attractive bouquet.
This wine holds up against wines from many parts of the world in this price range, providing good value. Score 14.5/Good.
Steve Delaney is a member of the Opimian Society.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org