Award Winning Wines of Nova Scotia

When I was growing up, I used to think Nova Scotia was boring and  I dreamed of moving to Europe. I longed to live in a place surrounded by works of great art and incredible architecture; all while dressing the part, eating well and drinking delicious wine. My dream actually came true, and for awhile, I did get to experience the European sweet life and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  Despite the great experiences I was having in Northern Italy, I missed Canada.  When I finally came home, I had a new appreciation and love for this province.  I realized that there was a lot more to Nova Scotia than I had given it credit for; there is a living arts community here, in lieu of grand architectural masterpieces we are surrounded by natural beauty and the ocean, plus we have great local food and, I am proud to say, we have some great home-grown wines to go along with it.

In the current issue of the top international wine magazine, Decanter, renowned wine critic Steven Spurrier recommends Benjamin Bridge’s Methode Classique 2011 Rose, giving it a score of 91.  This is huge news for the Nova Scotia wine industry at large as it puts us on the map as an important producer of unique, cool climate sparkling wines.

2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia Wines

This past June I had the opportunity to participate as a judge for the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia Wines.  The award was launched in 2014 with great success and I have sat on the judges panel twice now, alongside other wine professionals working in various areas of the business.  All of the judges chosen have a particular understanding of Nova Scotia wines and I was thrilled to be able to lend my expertise in the selection process again this year.

The judging was held in the dining room of Government House in Halifax; there were ten judges and 40 wines to taste in a semi “blind” fashion.  There were 7 sparkling wines, 20 white wines, 6 roses, 6 reds and, surprisingly, only 1 dessert wine this year. It’s nice to see that we are confident in our other wine styles.  

How the judging works

Prior to the actual judging, all of the judges were given a calibration wine to taste, evaluate and score on our own before sharing our observations with the other judges. This was to ensure that we all have a baseline to judge upon. From there it was pretty much head down and nose in glass for the next couple of hours.  You have to be observant, efficient and confident as you move along.  We had about four minutes per wine to taste, make notes and tally up our scores.  Once we turned in our scores for a wine, we were not able to go back to make changes.  I’ll admit that I find this type of judging a bit challenging; there is no room for doubt or changing your mind.  This is how the judging remains impartial and effective. It may feel easier to assign scores to wines when you can evaluate them in relation to each other or taste a few side by side, however, in the end, the winning wines all won by a significant margin.  I was also told by those who tallied up the scores that there was consistency amongst the judges as well.  

And the winners are….

2015 Avondale Sky Tidal Bay (now sold out!)

2015 Gaspereau Vineyards Riesling

2014 Lightfoot & Wolfville Ancienne Chardonnay

In the past we have seen sparkling wine, late harvest and ice wines win this award as well.  The award highlights the fact that our climate is well suited to making white wines and that there is a future for quality wines made from vinifera grapes on our home turf!

Nova Scotians love to drink and I am happy to say that we can now drink good local wine!  To stay up to date on the growing local wine scene, I recommend picking up the latest read on the subject,  Wine Lover`s Guide to Atlantic Canada, written by local wine writers Moira Peters and Craig Pinhey with photographs by Jessica Emin.  

The future of NS wines is as bright as these summer days have been and I am looking forward to the 2016 vintage, which has all the makings of being a winner.

Cheers,

Alanna