Canada’s Wine Regions – Part 1 – Nova Scotia

This is the first part of a four part series on the 4 wine regions of Canada, travelling from the east coast to the west coast.  The regions are Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. 

Nova Scotia’s wine regions are situated in the Annapolis Valley, Avon River Valley, Malagash Peninsula, LaHave River Valley, and Bear River Valley.

The region’s soil and mesoclimates provide an excellent environment for the production of character-rich high quality wines. The vast majority of the province’s wineries are located in the Annapolis Valley, which includes the Gaspereau Valley at its eastern end.  However, other regions such as the Avon River Valley, Malagash Peninsula, LaHave River Valley and Bear River Valley are also home to Nova Scotian wineries.

Nova Scotia produces some of the most distinctive premium-quality grapes in North America. Their wineries have garnered international acclaim for their efforts and genuine passion.

The warm summers and long falls create crisp wines with bright acidity and aromatic complexities. Constantly being recognized as distinctly Nova Scotian, the combination of these unique characteristics led to the development of the first appellation in the province, Tidal Bay, officially launched in June 2012.

There are over 70 grape growers, some 20 wineries and more than 800 acres of vines in Nova Scotia.  Their wine offerings include: 

White Wines

Nova Scotia has become well known for producing bright, crisp and aromatic white wines with pronounced acidity and prominent character. White hybrids such as L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Vidal and New York Muscat have had tremendous success in Nova Scotia and growing success has also been seen with traditional European varietals (vinifera), such as Chardonnay, Ortega and Riesling.

Red Wines

Because of the cooler climate and shorter growing season it’s often thought that Nova Scotia is unable to produce quality red wines. However, the focus has been on producing grapes that grow incredibly well in Nova Scotia and produce well rounded, full-bodied and dry red wines with low tannins. These wines are typically earthy and smoky with berry fruit characteristics. Varietals such as Lucie Kuhlmann, Baco Noir, Marechal Foch and Leon Millot grow particularly well in Nova Scotia.

Traditional Method Sparkling Wine        

Over the past decade Nova Scotia has developed a wealth of expertise and specialization in traditional method sparkling wines. 

Nova Scotia has near perfect climatic conditions for making sparkling wines. The warm summers, complimented by the temperate influence of the Atlantic Ocean encourages flavours to develop brilliance and uncommon intensity, while still retaining the acidity required for balance and structure.

Ice Wines

Nova Scotia provides ideal temperatures for growing this unique luxury product. Made from frozen grapes, Ice Wine is usually harvested at night between late November and late December, when the temperatures hit between -8 °C and -10 °C.

A cool, slow fermentation results in a very complex, full bodied dessert wine. The golden nectar is high in sugar, flavour and balanced acidity, and depending on the variety, displays notes of spicy tangerine, apricot and melon. Common Nova Scotia ice wine varieties are Vidal, Ortega and New York Muscat.

Beyond Nova Scotia

Nova Scotian wines are not always available outside of the province.  However, there are a few wineries that produce a sufficient volume for export.  Those include Benjamin Bridge, Gaspereau Vineyards, Domaine de Grand Pré, Luckett Vineyards and Jost Vineyards.

When in Nova Scotia I have tried some of the local wines.  I found Jost’s red wine offerings to be good and look forward to experiencing them again at some point in the future.

Sláinte mhaith

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