Yesterday, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, marked the beginning of this calendar year’s TNT events (Tuesday Night Tastings), those first Tuesday evenings of every month during the wine season (and a bit beyond) in Nova Scotia when local wineries and vineyards showcase their oenological talents and compare and contrast some of the excellent wines their labours have produced. Each month, there is a theme. This month, April, it was vinifera, vitis vinifera, aka old-world grapes. It was hosted by Benjamin Bridge in the very palm of the Gaspereau Valley where, as we arrived toward dusk, we were greeted with a flute of Nova 7 and roaring wood fires as the sun began to set over the ridge ... .
This beautiful location was a great selection to kick off the TNT season. The 140-acre property on the Gaspereau River boasts a vineyard of over 40 acres, with an enviable diversity of local varietals (the de rigueur L’Acadie blanc and Maréchal Foch), and such high-quality vinifera as Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. You will notice that those last three mentioned are the essential ingredients for classic Champagne. Since Champagne can only be produced in Champagne, we in Nova Scotia are legally restricted to boasting about our traditional method sparkling wines that have begun to hold their own against the best of the Old World wines. The excellent wines being produced with our own L’Acadie blanc are justifiably beginning to take over the wine world, including that of sparkling wines. Benjamin Bridge is at the forefront of this confident stride toward staking out a foothold in the wine markets of the world.
Although considered the new kid on the block of the wine world, Nova Scotia can justify a bit of swagger when you consider that the oldest vines in all of Canada were planted here. As I mentioned elsewhere, shortly after the 1606 establishment of the Order of Good Cheer (L’Ordre du Bon-Temps), founder Louis Hébert (apothecary, pharmacist, and possible alchemist) planted the very first vines near Port-Royal in 1611. These, of course, were vinifera. Given the conditions (and understandable lack of preparedness on the part of these early French colonists), these poor vines did not last. However, approximately four hundred years later Nova Scotia is roaring back with some dynamite vinifera that is making the world take notice.
It seems fitting that this TNT evening devoted to old world vines should showcase awesome Ortegas, superlative Chardonnays (1 sparkling, btw), colossal Cabernet Franc, rockin' Rieslings, and, of course, some sly and seductive Pinot Noir.
With last year’s fantastic growing season, this was an appropriate start to what looks to be a banner year for local wine!