Many wine region have wines that stand out and are recognized for their defining qualities and characteristics. Nova Scotia wines have consistently been known for their fresh, crisp and bright style. Nova Scotia winery owners and winemakers worked to develop a signature wine that reveals these characteristics, this hard work and creativity gave birth to Tidal Bay. Tidal Bay is a wine with unique character that brilliantly reflects the terroir, coastal breezes, and the cooler climate of its place of origin.
Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia and was officially launched in June 2012. It is a crisp, aromatic white wine that displays the unique characteristics of Nova Scotia's cool climate region and pairs perfectly with the local seafood. The name Tidal Bay was inspired by the influence of the ocean on the wineries located across the province. Unlike most other wine regions, where the appellation is defined by a localized geographic region, the Tidal Bay appellation applies to Nova Scotia as a whole.
To obtain the Tidal Bay designation, the wine must be made from specific grape varieties, consist of 100% Nova Scotia grown grapes, follow a strict set of standards and be approved annually by an independent blind tasting panel. These standards were created by a committee of winemakers, sommeliers and wine experts and are strictly enforced throughout the winemaking process, that is, from growing to bottling. Thus, while Tidal Bays can be made from different combinations of approved grape varieties, they must demonstrate the distinctive taste profile that reflects the classic Nova Scotian style: lively fresh green fruit, dynamic acidity, and characteristic minerality. Furthermore, Tidal Bay wines must also be relatively low in alcohol, more specifically no more than 11% Alc/Vol.
The Appellation wine is to be composed of grape varieties as follows:
"PRIMARY VARIETIES (which must, alone or in combination, make up a majority of the final blend): L'Acadie, Seyval, Vidal, Geisenheim 318.
SECONDARY VARIETIES (optional, but must not, alone or in combination, make up more than 49% of the final blend): Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chasselas, Auxerrois, Kentville White Varieties, Ortega, Siegerebe, Siegfried, Geisenheim 319, 322 or 6495-3 Cayuga, Minnesota Muscat, Petit Milo , Frontenac Gris .
TERTIARY VARIETIES (For reference, these are highly aromatic varieties nevertheless capable, within prescribed maximums, of displaying uniquely Nova Scotian aromatic traits in a blended wine.) (optional, but must not, alone or in combination, make up more than 15% of the final blend; and must not, as determined by the Independent Tasting Panel, overshadow the terroir-based aromatics or flavour of the wine): Gewürztraminer, Perle of Csaba, Traminette, New York Muscat, Valvin French-hybrid, or vinifera Muscat varieties."
Although all Tidal Bay wines must follow the same set of standards, each wine is slightly different, and wineries are able to uniquely express their individuality within their Tidal Bay wines. There are 12 wineries in Nova Scotia that currently make Tidal Bays. We plan to do a blind taste test all of these. As it would be a bit much to test all 12 wines at once, the first installation of the "Tidal Bay Challenge" include wines from four wineries: Blomidon Estate Winery, Luckett Vinyards, Domaine de Grand Pré, and Avondale Sky Winery. The blind tastings resulted in us separating the wines into two categories of Tidal Bays: one better for sipping on its own as the wines were a bit fruitier and the other much better paired with food as the wines where a bit crisper. When we revealed the bottles, we discovered that The Domaine de Grand Pré, and Avondale Sky Tidal Bays fell into the first category, while the Blomidon Estate Winery, Luckett Vineyards Tidal Bays fell into the second.
The 2015 Grand Pré Tidal Bay is a blend of five different varieties: L’Acadie Blanc, Vidal, Ortega, Muscat, Seyval. All grapes are 100% grown in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. It contains 11% Alc/Vol.
It has a distinctive brightness in the glass. The nose is fresh yet complex, with a body and fullness that lingers with every sip. According to their website: "It is the perfect complement to Nova Scotia seafood or to share with friends."
The Avondale Sky Tidal Bay is a blend of 54% L’Acadie Blanc, 27% Vidal Blanc, 12% Geisenheim, 4% Osceola Muscat, 3% Petite Milo. It contains 10.1% Alc/Vol.
This wine won Double Gold - Best in Category at the All Canadian Wine Championships. The nose shows notes of citrus, melons, gooseberry, and peach, with a hint of spice. The palate is soft, yet fresh, with ripe fruit and mineral notes. The finish shows lingering spice and clean mineralogy. Their website suggests that "to experience this wine at its best, try it with; seafood, spicy or BBQ chicken, mushroom or lemon risotto.
The 2014 Tidal Bay from Blomidon Estate Winery is a blend of L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc and New York Muscat from their seaside estate vineyard. It contains 10.2% Alc/Vol.
The 2014 vintage won a bronze medal at Wine Align National Wine Awards. This Tidal Bay has a distinctive brightness in the glass, with a fresh yet complex nose of green apple, pear, and tropical fruit. The palate is dryishly crisp, with body and fullness that lingers with every sip.
Luckett Vineyard's 2015 Tidal Bay is a blend of 57% L'Acadie, 20% Ortega, 14% Osceola Muscat, 9% Traminette. It contains 11% Alc/Vol.
This wine is superbly fresh with an electric pear nose and a mouthful of lemon zest and grapefruit. They suggest pairing this wine with Nova Scotia scallops, local goat cheese, or sushi.
Because Tidal Bay is light, crisp, zesty and very refreshing, it can be enjoyed as an aperitif or with seafood. I imagine this can be said of all Tidal Bays. We happened to hold our first Tidal Bay blind tasting before and then paired with bacon-wraped Digby scallops with a side of creamed-corn grits. At least for this meal, The Blomidon and Luckett Tidal Bays were the best pairings with the food. We fully enjoyed sipping the Grand Pré and Avondale Sky Tidal Bays on their own. Perhaps the greater challenge within the challenge is to find the perfect food pairings for the other two lovely wines.
Of the Tidal Bays we tested, all maintain a style that is light, clean and slightly aromatic, yet each winery has its own individual style when making Tidal Bay. We will be tasting and comparing all the Tidal Bays from Nova Scotia vineries this season. Please come back to visit our blog for our next installation of "The Tidal Bay Challenge." We look forward enjoying each wine's uniqueness as well as finding lovely food pairings.