[These wines were provided as samples for review purposes.]
If you have a passing familiarity with the Canadian wine scene, you’re probably pretty comfortable about what’s where. You know that the two big players are the Okanagan and Niagara. You know where to look for dynamite Riesling, Gewurz, Gamay and Cab Franc. You may know about the potential rise of Syrah out west, about new possibilities in the Similkameen and a focus on subregional quality in Prince Edward County and the Golden Mile Bench.
But did you know that the best sparkling wine in Canada may well be made in…Nova Scotia?
Despite only being in existence for just over a decade, Benjamin Bridge definitely deserves a place at Canada’s bubbly head table, and to my mind they are already the cream of the crop. Located in the Gaspereau Valley northwest of Halifax, in north-central Nova Scotia (bordering the Bay of Fundy as opposed to the Atlantic), Benjamin Bridge is without question the most acclaimed and well-known winery east of Niagara, producing a wide range of bottlings but focusing heavily on traditional method sparkling wines. The Gaspereau, with its (unsurprising) cool climate and maritime breezes, delivers a colder, shorter growing season promoting leaner ripening and lower yields, one remarkably similar to bubbly’s Mecca, Champagne in France. The marginal conditions and harsh winters mandate partial reliance on hardier and earlier-ripening hybrid grapes, which are not usually known for their complexity and delicacy in the bottle, but somehow the winery makes them sing, embracing rather than hiding them and adding a unique sense of intrigue to the wines as a result. Read the rest of this entry »