Tim Pawsey aka Hired Belly, Vancouver - L’Acadie Vineyards: Nova Scotia’s Sparkling Stalwart
L’Acadie Vineyards: Nova Scotia’s Sparkling Stalwart
I’m intrigued (and inspired) by winemakers who really do ‘push the envelope.’ And Bruce Ewert is one of those winemakers. Ever since Ewert left BC for Nova Scotia to make wine in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley I’ve been following his progress—and, in particular, L’Acadie Vineyards’ success in sparkling wine.
Born in Prince George, and a graduate of UBC, Ewert cut his viticultural teeth working across the country in various winemaking capacities for Andrés Wines. He started out in Port Moody, BC, before heading to Winona, Ontario and Truro, Nova Scotia. Along the way he worked vintages in Australia and California and returned to BC in 1995.
In those early days Ewert consulted to Sumac Ridge and Hawthorne Mountain (now SYL Ranch) and went on to explore sparkling wine at Summerhill. His wife, Pauline Scott, hails from Nova Scotia. Hence, he says, when it came to looking for affordable land on which to launch L’Acadie Vineyards (in 2004), then still emerging Annapolis Valley was an obvious choice.
Ewert was determined to follow the mantra “the right grape for the right site.” In this case he felt strongly that the right grape was l’Acadie Blanc. It’s a Canadian, cold-hardy hybrid of Seibel and Villard which is now widely planted in Nova Scotia. And he knew that the ancient seabed of the Gaspereau Valley—defined by schist and sandstone—was the perfect site.
The winemaker was also drawn to L’Acadie Blanc’s higher acid, less fruit-driven profile. Noting at the time that nobody in Nova Scotia was making bubble he was convinced it would make “a wonderful sparkling wine.” Moreover, when it came to sparkling, Bruce was definitely bullish on Annapolis Valley rather than the Okanagan. There he reckoned (even over a decade ago) that consistently higher sugars were proving too challenging for sparkling.
As it turned out, he was likely witnessing the early signs of what we have now come to understand more urgently as climate change. On an already brief cycle of the vine, no one is immune to its impact, he notes. “Bud break now sometimes comes later than usual, and first frost possibly earlier. And even though winters may be getting milder, it’s not a certainty.”
Overall, though, his observation that Nova Scotia has considerably less heat units more than paid off in terms of consistently seeing more moderate sugar levels and good acid retention. And the L’Acadie grape has adapted, he says, “amazingly well, shortened its cycle through flowering and veraison, and still ripens for sparkling.”
In conclusion, it’s truly rewarding to see L’Acadie Vineyards making a name for itself—especially building the reputation of Canadian Traditional Method sparkling. It’s surely one of our most under-appreciated styles with plenty of potential—and sites not yet explored.
L’Acadie Vintage Cuvée 2017 (Annapolis Valley)
[L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvée 2017]
This blend of 92% estate-grown L’Acadie Blanc with 8% Annapolis Valley Seyval Blanc is certified organic and aged on the lees for before its first disgorging in June 2019. Here the L’Acadie and its suitability to sparkling truly shines through. Forward citrus, apple and toasty notes with anise hints, a stream of fine bubbles with persistent mousse, quite creamy and citrus on the palate with mineral undertones, excellent structure and zesty notes to close. Excellent now but also should evolve nicely in the bottle. 92 pts. $30.26 (winery). Also at some BC private stores.
L’Acadie Vintage Cuvée Rosé 2017 (Annapolis Valley & Cape Breton)
[L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvée Rosé 2017]
A blend of L’Acadie Blanc (36%) and Marechal Foch (55%), with 7% Leon Millot and 1% Luci Kuhlman from Cape Breton, plus 1% Seyval. Pale to medium salmon coloured with inviting, vibrant red berries and some sage and earthy hints. Fine bubbles and a gentle mousse lead to a crisp palate wrapped in appealing acidity, with rhubarb, strawberry and cherry notes, with some minerality in the background and that lively acidity—which just keeps on going, makes it very food flexible. Certified organic. 90 pts. $30.26 (winery). Also at some BC private stores.
Prestige Brut Estate 2014 (Annapolis Valley)
[L'Acadie Vineyards Prestige Brut Rosé 2014]
Made entirely with estate fruit from the initial 2005 plantings on schist, sandstone and sand, the soils really come through on this very Champagne-like sparkling wine, which lures with definite brioche, almond and toasty notes before a textured, mouth-filling palate of stonefruit and apple, above mineral undertones. Almost six years on lees delivers impressive but elegant heft and full-bodied character through a lengthy end. Certified organic. 91 pts. $43.30 (winery) BCLS (2013) $55.99.
[The Ewert family]
The Ewert Family
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