Diaries from the vines #1: Turning the tides

As Lily mentioned in a previous post, you often find wineries in the most beautiful places, so if you love alcohol and pretty scenery then a vineyard is the perfect place to visit. There are vineyards in all pockets of the world, from England, France, and Macedonia; to Georgia, Chile, Greece and even Tenerife. The list goes on and, as Lily mentioned, you don’t have to break the bank or go too far afield to take in a glass over a picturesque backdrop.

I currently find myself taking a glass, looking over the sights of The Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, Canada. I’m working for Luckett Vineyards; a local winery situated on the steepest fucking hill I’ve ever had the displeasure of cycling up (although the view from the vines makes the bike ride worth it). I’ll admit that when I decided to go back to Canada I had no idea that Nova Scotia produced wines and, to be honest, had no desire to even visit the province but, already, after only a short time here I can tell that taking a leap of faith was the right decision.

As someone who is forging their career in wine, I feel so excited to be part of an emerging industry. As mentioned in previous articles, I have worked and spent a lot of time in France, visiting amazing places in Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne. These places are like a mecca to any wine enthusiast as they have been producing wine for hundreds of years, Clos de Vougeot in Burgundy has actually been producing wine for nearly 1000 years!

It’s great to visit these places and soak up the tradition, but there is something incredibly exciting and rewarding about being part of a young/emerging wine industry. Because the Nova Scotia wine scene is so young, it has incredible potential and is still forming its identity. In such a short number of years the number of vineyards has increased and, through working together along with the Wine Association of Nova Scotia, the region has developed its own appellation wine called Tidal Bay. Using certain grapes and methods of fermentation, Tidal Bay wines represent the terroir (essence) of the province. Any vineyard in Nova Scotia can attempt to produce a Tidal Bay and has to submit their attempt to an Independent Tasting Panel (ITP) who will blind taste and judge if it meets the criteria they have set out. This year 12 Tidal Bay 2016 vintages were passed by the ITP.

The whole concept of Tidal Bay as Nova Scotia’s appellation wine is just like that of Champagne. So Champagne can only be called Champagne if it is produced in that region, uses specific grapes and goes through a natural secondary fermentation. Tidal Bay can only be called Tidal Bay if it is created in Nova Scotia, uses certain grapes permitted by the guidelines and it has to be fermented in stainless steel. There are other guidelines such as the amount of sugar permitted but that’s the basic premise of the Tidal Bay specification. A Tidal Bay wine will taste different from vineyard to vineyard but the overwhelming characteristic should be that it’s aromatic, crisp and fresh.

I was recently at an industry event at Blomidon Estate Winery and tasted all 12 Tidal Bays being released this year. One of the things I loved about this event was that there were representatives from every winery in the area there, I was even talking to people from a local cider company. The atmosphere wasn’t necessarily competitive, it was more like a celebration of the industry and everyone working together in order to develop it.

Each Tidal Bay I tasted was slightly different, some more sweeter than others, others more fruity, depending on the combination of grape varietals used. Benjamin Bridge winery even artificially added CO2 in order to make theirs slightly sparkling. They all had their own identity but, upon smelling them, all had similar characteristics. They were all aromatic, minerally, crisp and fresh.

The whole tasting evening and what it symbolised represents everything I love about wine, and everything we are trying to achieve at Wined Up. This was just a group of normal people, most of them from the local area, drinking and chatting. There wasn’t any snobbery or any of the elitism that you might think of when you imagine a wine tasting. It was just fun and I can’t wait for the next one!

– James

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