A Guide to The Emerging Wines of Nova Scotia, Canada

Nova Scotia is one of the fastest growing wine-producing areas in all of Canada, though it is often overshadowed by the powerhouse producing provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, The province is surrounded by water, which acts as a climate moderating influence and helps to keep vineyards cool during the summer months.

The cool temperatures and ample sunshine associated with this Canadian province lead to a long growing season and wine grapes that are full of bright and punchy acidity.

The Best Wines of Nova Scotia

A number of lesser-known wine grapes are prevalent among the wines of Nova Scotia, as well as internationally recognizable grape varietals as well as red and white blends.

l'acadie blanc

L’Acadie Blanc

L’Acadie Blanc is a rare white wine grape varietal that is only found in cold weather regions of North America. Today, Nova Scotia is one of the only places in the world where L’Acadie Blanc is grown and cultivated on a large scale for wine production.

This hybrid wine grape was first created in the Ontario province in the 1950s and was specifically engineered for the harsh growing conditions present in Canada. While the wine grape is planted in smaller numbers in Quebec, it is most often associated with Nova Scotia.

L’Acadie Blanc is the most planted wine grape in the Nova Scotia province today, and this is the only region where this wine grape is dominant. The thick skin of this rugged white wine grape makes it perfectly suited for the cold growing season in this coastal Canadian province.

This unique wine grape produces wines that are full in body, and the tasting notes have been described as earthy and floral. For these reasons, many people compare these wines to a mix between the world-famous Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

The Nova Scotia region is world-renowned for having some of the best seafood in all of North America, and the L’Acadie Blanc grape makes food-friendly wines that are ideal for pairing with the local cuisine. The acidity in the wine grapes works harmoniously with local shellfish dishes.

Domaine de Grand Pre L’Acadie Blanc is one of the most popular bottles of wine that is produced using the L’Acadie Blanc grape today. The bright and racy acidity of this wine mixed with its full and luscious body create a unique wine that is truly unforgettable.

This is one of the more highly-priced bottles of wine produced in the Nova Scotia province though it is still considered to be affordable by many wine enthusiasts at under $25 per bottle. It is common at restaurants throughout the religion and is especially food friendly.

L’Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvee Sparkling is a bright and balanced sparkling wine that is made with the L’Acadie Blanc grape. It has become very popular at bars and restaurants across Nova Scotia and is a perfect candidate for pairing with seafood-based appetizers.

This bottle of wine is mass distributed around Canada, but it can be difficult to procure in certain portions of the world. This label has benefited significantly from the increased proliferation of online wine sales in the last few years, as more wine enthusiasts now have access to it.

Chardonnay

chardonnay

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine grape in the entire world, and it has managed to thrive in the cold growing conditions of the Nova Scotia province. It produces wines with a significant and full body and changes significantly with oak aging.

Traditional French Chardonnay can either be oaked or unoaked, depending on the region of production and preferences of the winemaker. Unoaked Chardonnay is considered to be “cleaner,” and carries more fruit aromas and tasting notes with a clean finish.

Oaked Chardonnay changes significantly, as a process called malolactic fermentation occurs in the barrel while aging. The tannins that are naturally present interact with the aging wine to convert some of the malic acids into lactic acids.

This interaction between the wood and the wine works to “soften” the body, and the result is a thicker wine that is described by many wine enthusiasts as “buttery” or “creamy.” French Chardonnay makers use exclusively French Oak, which is delicate and leaves subtle notes.

American oak contains significantly higher levels of tannin, and the flavors imparted by the wood during aging are significantly more strong and more aggressive compared to French oak. Chardonnay can also be aged in steel tanks, which imparts no flavor into the finished product.

Chardonnay from Nova Scotia can either be oaked or unoaked, and oaked varieties are usually produced using American oak barrels. A good portion of the Chardonnay grown in Nova Scotia is used for sparkling wine production, which does not usually require oak aging.

Benjamin Bridge Methode Classique Brut is a fantastic example of a single varietal bottle of sparkling wine produced using the Chardonnay grape from Nova Scotia. This “Non-Vintage” sparkler is made using a delicate blend of Chardonnay grapes from different vintages.

The same producer also offers single varietal bottles of sparkling wine that are labeled by individual vintage. Not every vintage produces wine grapes that are of exceptional quality, however, and only certain years are awarded their own dedicated wines.

Vidal

vidal

Vidal is a hybrid white wine grape that is grown almost exclusively in North America. While certain parts of the Northern United states produce wines using the Vidal grape, Canada is the leading producer and home to the highest quality Vidal wines in the world.

Some wine enthusiasts compare the aroma, body, and flavor profiles of Vidal to that of Riesling, though Vidal does not age as well as the famous German wine grape. Vidal wines are best enjoyed when young, and they represent an incredible value for high-quality wines.

Domaine de Grand Pre Vidal Icewine is a unique dessert wine that is made using the Vidal grape. The grapes are allowed to freeze on the vine, resulting in a more concentrated juice that leads to a very sweet and strong wine.

Muscat

muscat

Muscat is an Italian wine grape that is most often planted in North America. This white wine grape is used to produce sweet wines without fortification or the use of any special processes, as it naturally contains high levels of sugar and sweet fruit-tasting notes.

In Nova Scotia, the Muscat grape is most often used to make single varietal bottles of still wine that contain moderate amounts of residual sugar. The naturally cool growing conditions in Nova Scotia lead to acidic wine grapes that are well balanced and have a fresh aftertaste.

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 is one of the most popular bottles of wine in all of Canada and is one of Nova Scotia’s most famous exports. It has received high marks from sommeliers as well as wine critics and is readily available at retailers all across North America.

White Wine Blends

white wine blends 

One of the biggest criticisms of wine from Nova Scotia historically is the lack of sweetness naturally present in local wine grapes. The naturally cold growing season leads to wine grapes that are high in acid but lack the sugar to be considered of very high quality.

One of the most successful methods that Canadian winemakers have historically used to achieve balance in their wines is the mixing of different wine grapes to achieve balance. This process allows for many different wine grapes, which each bring unique qualities to the blend.

Jost Vineyards Tidal Bay is one of the most successful and famous white wine blends from the province of Nova Scotia. This wine helped to put the Tidal Bay subregion on the map for many wine enthusiasts, which is considered by many to produce the best wines in the province.

Pinot Noir

pinot_noir

Pinot Noir is an extremely popular French wine grape that is thin-skinned and produces delicate wines with high acidity and many layers of flavor. While not the most popular wine grape in Nova Scotia, it is fairly common and used in blends and on its own.

Winegrowers have been planting Pinot Noir in the Nova Scotia area for decades, though for the majority of the time it was used in both red and white wine blends. Single varietal bottles of Pinot Noir from the area have become increasingly popular and prevalent over the past few years.

Benjamin Bridge is one of the most prevalent wine producers in Nova Scotia, and they make a fantastic bottle of Pinot Noir that is labeled by individual vintage. It is aged in delicate oak for one year to allow the wine to fully develop and soften in the barrel.

Red Wine Blends

red wine blends 

Red wine blends are very popular across North America, and some of the most popular wines in Canada and the United States today are red blends. Winemakers often use a blend of different grapes to achieve balance and flavor profiles not possible with only one grape.

Red blends are especially popular in the Nova Scotia region due to the elevated acidity levels and frailty low levels of residual sugar naturally present in local wine grapes. Some of the most recognizable and popular red wines from the province are a result of careful blending.

Jost Vineyards 4 Skins Red is one of the top-selling red wine blends in all of Canada. It uses a combination of four different locally grown wine grape varietals to achieve a deep and complex flavor profile that is not usually present in Nova Scotia.

Wines of Nova Scotia – Conclusion

Nova Scotia is a quickly growing and exciting region when it comes to bright and fresh acid-driven wines.

L’Acadie Blanc is the specialty of the region, and this hybrid wine grape is not produced anywhere in the world outside of this coastal Canadian province.

Be sure to leave a comment below if you have been lucky enough to try a bottle of wine from Nova Scotia, and let other wine enthusiasts your thoughts and tasting notes!

Also, check out our list of wine regions to help deepen your wine knowledge!