L'Acadie Vineyards Blog
Welcome to the L'Acadie Vineyards blog and winery news
Have you ever imagined that those playful bubbles in your glass of sparkling wine are like stars? Dom Perignon thought so too. He was the blind French monk that is credited with the discovery of fermenting wine in the bottle and was quoted as saying, "I'm sipping stars!". And they have been the iconic symbol of Champagne ever since, including sparkling wines from other regions.
We associate stars with our sparklings based on these traditions. And our relationship with the style is strong: an experienced sparkling winemaker from British Columbia, the first release of traditional method sparkling in Nova Scotia and the province's first international awards. We were honoured when Beppi Crosariol wrote in the Globe and Mail, “Bruce Ewert released Nova Scotia’s first Champagne-method sparkling wine back in 2008. The local industry owes much to his foresight” Our present logo boasts one proud star, and our first logo back in 2008 had five stars.
You'll recognize this logo on our road sign at the winery as a continuing homage to sparkling wine and our commitment to its craft in Nova Scotia.
Always chill sparkling wines to fridge temperatures (4C) to enhance retention of bubbles. A flute is ideal but larger glass bowls better coax the aromas from well-aged wines like Prestige Brut Estate . Make sure the glass is clean and doesn't have soap residue. A full serving is 4 ounces (120ml) and to enhance enjoyment of aromas only fill to 1/3 to 1/2 full. No need to swirl - the bubbles will bring the toasty aromas to your nose.
Many seafoods pair well with sparkling wine. Think mussels, lobsters and oysters. But don't stop there - consider any food that has a salty component like potato chips and popcorn. Of course mild chesses are always a hit with guests, especially an assortment of soft cheeses. For curried and spicy dishes, choose our most aromatic sparklings like Rose Brut, or consider trying our traditional method cider, Duncanson Brook Cider
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
Full article click here
Making sparkling wines on the fringe of possibility has its rewards and risks. On the positive side of the equation is world class sparkling wine with ripe grapes at enviable acid levels and moderate sugars. We are right on the cusp of not being able to do what we do, but grapes seem to react to the stresses and reward us with our signature cool climate flavours. It’s been 15 years since planting our estate vineyard with L’Acadie blanc and we have seen remarkable adaptation and resilience to the rigours of a cool climate. And those risks are many – winter damage if temperatures dip below-20C , frosts on either end of the growing season and attaining enough heat units to ripen in our short growing season.
But is our region being affected by global warming? Is it getting easier? That’s a question posed to me recently by a wine writer. My answer: A guarded yes. Yes, when you look at how our climate has warmed over the last 50 years when research scientists at Agriculture Canada in Kentville determined it was too cold in Nova Scotia to support a wine industry. And yes, to the possibilities of vinifera growing here. But our region’s cooler personality can still rear it’s ugly head, like the 2018 spring frost, or described by many as a spring freeze. Temperatures dropped to -2.8C at our estate on June 4 and damaged 80% of our young primary shoots. This was a first for the region’s relatively young grape industry and affected some crops levels severely. We had a second bud burst in late June and those secondary shoots made up for lost time and showed remarkable growth, racing to achieve flowering and verasion at the historical benchmarks and ripening grapes for sparkling wine. An amazing adaptation to a 120 day season compared to our normal 180 frost free days. Crop levels were low, which was beneficial for future growth considering the stresses that the vines endured. We had to adjust distribution for our small production of 2018 still wines and NSLC was accommodating to allow us to restrict their shelf space for a year, so that we could sell direct.
So should we expect more fluctuations in weather, more extreme events? Is that the compromise to the benefits of a warming trend? A look at historical harvest information for sparkling – dates, sugars, acids, is an interesting exercise to see the effects. Champagne has heaps of data for this type of analysis and they have shown that harvest dates have been getting earlier to achieve optimal balance of moderate sugars and enough acidity in their warming climate. I experienced this when I was making sparkling in BC’s Okanagan Valley where the sugar accumulation outpaced ripening in +35C heat and I had to pick before sugars were too high and acid dropped out. But unripe grapes are not ideal for quality sparkling wine and just picking earlier in not always the answer. We’ve had enviable ripeness at our estate for 10 years, including last year. The seeds are lignified, brown, and there are ripe flavours. And harvest dates don’t seem to be trending earlier significantly, as shown in the 10-year harvest record below. And not major fluctuations either. It’s a small sample set compared to Champagne’s 100+ years of data, but significant for our emerging region. Hopefully these enviable quality indicators will continue for many future vintages, in our “cooler climate”.
Recently disgorged, RD, is a term coined by Madame Bollinger in Champagne in the 1960’s and is very popular in Europe where larger Champagne houses are not as capable as smaller grower wineries. L'Acadie Vineyards also offers recently disgorged sparkling wines, usually a month or a couple of weeks on the cork- fresh, fruity and lively. Buying direct from the winery is your best access.
Disgorging or degourgement is the act of removing the yeast from the bottle, adding a dosage of wine and sugar to balance natural acidity and corking the bottle. Like smaller grower Champagne wineries we are able to disgorge in small batches and have a small radius of distribution, compared to larger companies that have equipment to process large numbers of bottles and then ship to all points of the globe, on the cork for sometimes many years.
Bubbly ages like a white wine after the yeast is removed, fresh, fruity, vital style in the first several months, and rich and biscuit after one or more years. Look at the cork next time you open it – if it maintains that mushroom shape, it’s been in the bottle over a year, and if not, it is recently disgorged.