Spotlight on Nova Scotia, Canada: tasting some of the top wines

Jamie Goode tastes some of the top wines from this eastern Canadian wine region.

I’ve visited Nova Scotia three times, and each time come away impressed by both the charm of this eastern Canadian region, and the quality of the wines.

It’s quite a marginal region, with a very cool climate (average GDDs are 1000), and for this reason hybrid grape varieties have been a key feature of the viticultural landscape. The most widely planted grape is L’Acadie Blanc, a hybrid, with 32% of plantings.

The first commercial vineyard here was Domaine du Grand Pré in 1979, but things have really progressed more recently as Vitis vinifera varieties have joined the party, and received international acclaim for making some very convincing traditional method sparkling wines.

Bay of Fundy behind the vineyards

The two main regions are the Gaspereau and Annapolis Valleys, both benefiting from the Bay of Fundy, which has the world’s largest tides. There are now 19 wineries working with wine grapes, and some 485 hectares under vine (as of 2020, up by 200 hectares since I first visited in 2016).


Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique Brut 2017
12.5% alcohol. This is Chardonnay with 6 g/l dosage. Disgorged May 2022. Focused and refined with citrus and green apple notes, and a hint of pear. Fine toasty notes add interest with a hint of spice and crystalline citrus fruit. This has delicacy and refinement, with sweet lemon and some mandarin. 93/100

Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique Brut Rosé 2018 Nova Scotia
12% alcohol. 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier. Disgorged May 2022 with a dosage of 5 g/litre. Pale salmon pink with some orange. Bright, crisp and fruit driven with mandarin, orange peel and some lime. Lovely focus with a bright acid line and lovely purity. Very fruity with some seriousness. There’s a fine sappiness here: very expressive. 92/100

Benjamin Bridge Brut NV Nova Scotia
12% alcohol. Lovely balance here: focused fruit with pear and green apple as well as energetic citrus, showing good acidity and a twist of pithy bitterness. Lovely tart finish with a hint of almond. 91/100

Benjamin Bridge Rosé NV Nova Scotia
12% alcohol. Golden orange in colour this has aromas of strawberry, mandarins, herbs and lemons, as well as some wax and apple richness. In the mouth, it’s lively and fresh with lovely fruit and good acidity, as well as flavours of apple and cherry. 91/100

Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge 2021 Nova Scotia
6.5% alcohol, screwcapped. Full yellow gold in colour, with some pink/orange, and lightly fizzy. Zesty, citrussy nose with a hint of marmalade. Lovely crisp fruit on the palate with orange peel and herbs, and a touch of mandarin. Nice balance between the sweetness and the acidity: this is such a pleasurable, innovative wine. 87/100

Benjamin Bridge Piquette 2021 Nova Scotia
5% alcohol. Grape must, hops, sea salt and citrus fruit in the mix here. Lightly petillant, it’s lemony and zesty on the nose. In the mouth this is deliciously fruity with a nice lemon peel twist. Just joyful fun: light, fruity and so drinkable, with a nice saline twist. Like an alcopop. 83/100

Blomidon Extra Dry Sparkling Rosé NV Nova Scotia
12.5% alcohol. A blend of L’Acadie Blanc and Léon Millot. Lovely red/pink colour (and it’s good that this isn’t bottled in clear glass). Lovely fruit quality here: bright and vivid with juicy cherry and cranberry notes, as well as a fine herbal hint. There’s lovely dense fruit on the palate with some sweetness and moderate acidity, making for a real mouthful of rich, balanced, joyful red fruits. Lots of flavour here, with a touch of toastiness on the finish. 90/100

Blomidon Chardonnay 2020 Nova Scotia
13% alcohol. A blend of stainless steel and barrel fermentation. Complex with nuts, peach and toast with some fine citrus and pear fruit. There’s a sweetness to the fruit, with some pear and melon, and subtle toastiness from the oak. Lovely weight and depth here, with bready and toasty detail. 90/100

Blomidon Reserve Chardonnay Unfiltered 2020 Nova Scotia
This is fermented and aged in French oak, and it’s only made in the best years. It’s complex, refined and finely spiced with bold citrus fruit as well as hints of pear and white peach. Crystalline and finely spiced, with the oak very much in the background. Beautiful poise and balance here: this is really good. Lovely acid line, and great oak integration, with a core of fine lime. 93/100

Blomidon Blanc de Blancs 2011 Nova Scotia
11.5% alcohol. Chardonnay from the old block on the estate, bottled August 2012, disgorged February 2022 with a dosage of 6 g/l. Lovely aromas of toast, cream, wax and citrus. The palate is lively and taut with lovely complexity showing lemon and lime, with apple, a touch of honey and some salty hints. It’s bracing and intense with keen acidity and a crisp citrus character on the finish. This is complex and quite serious. 92/100

Blomidon Brut Réserve 2016 Nova Scotia
11.5% alcohol. Estate-grown Chardonnay. This is bright and fruit driven with lemons, as well as some mandarin and pear. Lovely texture and acidity. Some saline hints, subtle toast and wax, and a lovely acid line. This is so impressive. 92/100

Blomidon Grande Réserve Extra Brut 2008 Nova Scotia
11.5% alcohol. This is from the old block of Chardonnay, and it was disgorged in Febraury 2022 with 4 g/litre dosage. Very fine, expressive and supple with a core of citrus fruit. Saline with subtle toastiness and lovely acidity. Real precision here. 94/100

Lightfoot & Wolfville Brut Rosé 2020 Nova Scotia
11% alcohol. Full pink/orange in colour this has lovely flavours of strawberries and redcurrants with some taut citrus, and also a bit of structure. There’s a hint of plum and damson, too, adding richness, and it finishes with lovely acidity. Very fine, with nice precision. 92/100

Lightfoot & Wolfville Brut 2017 Nova Scotia
12% alcohol. Real finesse here: sweet pear, green apple and citrus fruit with a sense of harmony, showing good acidity but also lovely balance. There’s a sweet core to the fruit. So refined with some subtle toast and real depth. 92/100

Lightfoot & Wolfville Tidal Bay 2021 Nova Scotia
10% alcohol. Organic. Extremely fruity and lively with good acidity, some lemony notes and a bit of table grape and melon richness. Energetic and joyful with a touch of sweetness on the finish balancing the keen acidity. 88/100

Luckett Vineyards Tidal Bay 2021 Nova Scotia
11% alcohol. L’Acadie, Seyval, Chardonnay and Ortega. Lively, fruity and grapey with nice lemony fruit, good acidity and a really nice juicy quality. Pure and fun, with just a touch of sweetness. 88/100

Luckett Vineyards Chardonnay 2021 Nova Scotia
12% alcohol. Lovely pure, delicate fruit here with some pear and green apple, as well as a touch of peach. There’s a fine mealiness, with lovely texture and good acidity. Lovely balance to this wine. 90/100

Luckett Vineyards Riesling 2020 Nova Scotia
11% alcohol. Lovely lemony limey fruit here with a hint of pithiness and some wet stone minerality. Nice sour lime on the finish offsetting the slight sweetness very well. Shows poise and balance: essence of cool-climate Riesling. 90/100

Luckett Vineyards Traditional Method NV Nova Scotia
11% alcohol. L’Acadie Blanc is the variety here, and there’s no dosage. 3.5 years on lees. This has nice herby, toasty complexity. Bold apple and pear fruit with some nice depth, and then some appealing complexity from toasty autolytic notes, with good acidity. There’s a nice balance between the sweet fruit and savoury notes here, and nice grapefruit and bitter orange notes on the finish. Lovely depth to this wine: you’d never say this was made from a hybrid (although I think L’Acadie is a really good hybrid). 90/100

Planters Ridge Winery Tidal Bay 2021 Nova Scotia
11% alcohol. This blends together L’Acadie, Frontenac Blanc and Gris, Seyval, New York Muscat and Chardonnay. Highly aromatic with elderflower and lime, leading to a fruity palate showing zesty citrus fruit, some pear, a touch of melon and some nice juiciness. Great balance between the acid and the sweetness. 89/100

Planters Ridge Winery Elevation Frizzante 2021 Nova Scotia
11% alcohol. This lightly sparkling wine has lovely fruit, with notes of pear, lemon and peach, as well as some grapey richness. Good acidity keeps things focused, and there’s a nice breadth to the fruit in the mouth. Very stylish and accessible. 88/100

Planters Ridge Winery Sparkling Riesling 2021 Nova Scotia
10.5% alcohol. Gently sparkling, this is fresh, fruity and delicious with lovely bright lemon and pear fruit, with some grapey depth. This is all about pure fruit and massive drinkability. Relatively low in alcohol, and with fizziness adding a freshness, this is fruity and fun. 87/100

Planters Ridge Sparkling Mead NV Nova Scotia
11% alcohol. Made from wild clover honey from Wolfville in Nova Scotia. Honey and herb aromatics, and then a sweet palate with a rounded, finely spiced, herby, honey flavour. Really appealing: a deliciously sweet slightly fizzy wine that would work with desserts. 88/100

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