Nova Scotia – Canada’s second smallest province, land of the intrepid Acadians, the Mi’kmaq nation, maritime beauty, outstanding liberal arts universities and….quality sparkling wine?
As odd as that may sound, it shouldn’t really be too surprising. Consider that Nova Scotia lies almost exactly half way between the equator and the North Pole at about 44-45 degrees latitude. In contrast, Reims and Epernay lie at about 49 degrees.
Although Nova Scotia is surrounded almost entirely by water (apparently you’re never more than 20km away from the coast), it boasts a continental as opposed to a maritime climate. The region was one of the first in North America where grapes were grown specifically for wine with cultivation stretching back to the 1600s.
Today, Nova Scotia actually has 70 wineries. To be sure, it’s a boutique industry at only 223 ha under cultivation, but it has managed to build up a respectable following for its crisp and aromatic whites using L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Vidal and less success has been seen with Chardonnay, Ortega and Riesling. These whites are said to go incredibly well with the local seafood dishes. Their reds often centre around Marechal Foch and Baco Noir.
Now, when I saw ‘L’Acadie Blanc’, I had to go straight to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes to figure out just what it is. Turns out it’s a hybrid of Cascade x Seyve-Villard produced back in 1953 in Guelph at that University’s Department of Plant Agriculture. It’s comprised of 8 different vitis including riparia, labrusca (I know, I know – but hold your judgement), vinifera, rupestris, cinerea and berlandieri. It can survive temperatures as low as -25c, even lower than the hardy Seyval Blanc.
Wine Grapes notes the L’Acadie Blanc (known also as Acadie and by the least romantic ‘V 53261’) is hardy, resistant to disease and rot (its bunches are loose) and its varietal wines are generally full-bodied and often shows notes of honey and flowers.
It’s grown widely in Nova Scotia (surprise!) as well as in Quebec and more recently its been planted in north central Ontario. This sparking wine is made from 100% L’Acadie Blanc and winemaker Bruce Ewert is really doing all the right things.
The Prestige Brut 2007 has been aged for 4-5 years on its lees (the dead yeast cells) using the traditional method. Its also been hand riddled and hand disgorged.
Clear and bright, it’s medium gold with aggressive, long-lasting mousse.
On the nose, it’s clean and developing with medium intensity aromas of light biscuit and yeast, stone fruit, citrus, Granny Smith apple and minerality .
The palate is dry with medium minus alcohol, high acidity and the creamy mousse is long-lived. The medium intensity flavour characteristics include white blossom, more stone fruit (pear, white peaches), some key lime, Granny Smith apple, rising bread and wet rocks. The finish is medium long.
I must admit to wondering exactly how a sparkling wine made from this grape would taste – and I was most pleasantly surprised. WSET ‘good’ – the high acidity combined with the lower alcohol and fruit produce a very interesting and unique version of new world sparkling with the L’Acadie Blanc grape from Wolfville, Nova Scotia.