L'Acadie Vineyards Blog
Welcome to the L'Acadie Vineyards blog and winery news
We are releasing our first Tidal Bay in May! Joining a legacy of almost 10 years of previous releases from our Nova Scotia vineyard friends. And we couldn't be more excited about our inaugural blend and new label. If you're a lover of wineries in Nova Scotia you know what I'm talking about, if not, here is a Tidal Bay primer on the Wines of NS website
Why have we not joined the bandwagen in the past? We were not members of the winery association for the past seven years and Tidal Bay is an association initiative. We left the association because of issues with other winery board members in their refusal to protect our region's traditional method sparkling wine image from the growing number of artificially carbonated wines. We wanted better wine standards, they didn't. There are now new government-led wine standards being developed that will protect the image of sparkling wine, resulting largely from our lobbying.
We have built our winemaking reputation on sparkling wine with the first releases for the province and many international awards and accolades. Prestige Brut Estate was even shipped to the embassy in Moscow recently...for the second time! We are a winery that didn't set out to be everything to everybody. But we have been quietly researching and experimenting new styles beyond sparkling, always with the ethos of sustainability and suitability to our climate. Releases that have reflected those efforts are appassimento reds (Passito) and dessert wines, carbonic maceration red, and wines fermented with wild yeasts such as Pet Nat and Orange wine. And we have been doing the same meticulous planning and trial ferments for our new Tidal Bay program.
Our approach - dry and organic. To make sparkling wine you first have to be talented with making base wines that have a sense of place. Our many years of releases of Estate L'Acadie and Prestige Brut Estate show my winemaking style of showcasing our terroir - dry and clear. We planted predominantly L'Acadie blanc on our estate because we were impressed early with its flavours on our many investigative trips to Nova Scotia, Pauline's home province, and saw the potential of matching the unique gravelly terroir of our Gaspereau vineyard with Nova Scotia's signature variety. In fact, enhanced minerality and slight saline from schist, sandstone, an ancient seabed, is our own terroir signature, and getting stronger each year as the roots reach deep, over a metre presently. We approach Tidal Bay with the same lens - dry and the blend is predominantly L'Acadie from our estate.
Organic viticulture has been practiced at our Wolfville winery since inception and our Tidal Bay is a certified organic wine. The blend also has 15% organic Seyval blanc from the Windsor area on typical heavier soils- clay, loam. We are familiar with it from years of blending with Vintage Cuvee and it brings acidity and citrus flavour to the blend, fully complementing the richer tropical notes from L'Acadie. Living soils are prominent in both vineyards, a foundation of organics, with fungal populations helping the vine accentuate its uptake of not only nutrients but also flavours from the soil. A perfect match for a terroir-based wine like our Tidal Bay.
Releasing May 1 on our website and later in May in our wineshop.
UPDATE: As of May 1 you can buy Tidal Bay here
Is wine vegan? Yes, all L'Acadie Vineyards wines are vegan and organic, and we also follow vegan viticulture. So what can makes other wines not vegan? We all know that wine is grown in the vineyard, that practices and weather can play a significant role in ultimate wine quality. So let's start there.
Vineyard management varies depending on varieties, vineyard location and philosophy. Our location is deeply rooted in Gaspereau, Nova Scotia and we grow several varieties - L'Acadie blanc, Leon Millot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Click here for more about our terroir. The latter varieties are in the vinifera family and are more sensitive to disease so require more attention. Strategies include hilling the trunks in winter, leaf removal next to clusters and shoot positioning for air circulation, periodic sulfur applications on the leaves and plant residue teas. That brings us to philosophy, which really has two camps - conventional and organic. We have been organic since first planting our estate in 2005/2006 and our nutrient management includes beet extracts for a nitrogen source rather than animal manure. Synthetic inputs are not allowed in organic systems and these include petroleum-based fertilizers, glyphosate weed killer, and a host of systemic and contact pesticides that ultimately make it into your wine.
Winemaking is the more direct source for non-vegan inputs. The most prevalent is gelatin, derived from animal slaughtering. It is a protein fining agent that is routinely added to hard press juices to reduce the bitter tannins that were squeezed from the skins. And there are other proteins used to similarly reduce bitterness and astringency in wines - egg whites for barrel aged reds, casein (cow milk) for correcting oxidized wine, and isinglass from fish bladders. So what do we use? Bentonite is a clay that has amazing clarification and stabilization benefits, and a riddling aid to help the yeast slide down the bottle for traditional method sparkling. For tannin management, we only make reds when the season gives us ripe tannins and phenolics(don't bother looking for 2018 and 2019 vintages), and after careful maceration techniques and aging in barrels we don't need to reduce astringency.
Organic winemaking is low intervention. And as Heather Rankin at Obladee Wine bar in Halifax said it once, "You have to know a lot to do a little". So very little inputs and essentially nudging the wine along its evolution path to become what it was meant to be in the vineyard, a wine with soul and transparency. Organic certifiers audit our grape sources and all our inputs, and the Canada Organic logo on our bottles is your assurance.
Join our organic wine clubs! Click here for more information
Top 2021 Wine Trends compiled by Natural Merchants - Family Produced Organic Wines
Timely article by Natural Merchants that points to many aspects of our own wine portfolio. I never thought I'd be saying that we are trendy, we've been at this too long to suggest we are bandwagon jumpers, but our wines check the boxes on many of the trends mentioned:
- "Sparkling wine, and Prosecco in particular, has spearheaded the diversification of wine’s consumption occasions. The category has steadily moved away from its one-dimensional image as a special celebratory drink to align with more regular occasions, such as the aperitivo hour."
- “As a result of the pandemic, the importance of sustainability has been reinforced in the minds of consumers. In tandem with increasing the focus on environmental concerns, the pandemic has amplified the trend towards health and wellness. Together, these issues have acted as major drivers of the organic, biodynamic, and low-intervention wine movement.”
- Bio-hacking: "In the wine world, this refers to wines that are low in sugar and alcohol that can be incorporated without dire effects into a diet such as Paleo or Keto. The wines have low-enough sugar (under 1 g/l) and alcohol to keep the body from going out of Ketosis, when consumed in moderation." ~Nova Scotia wines are naturally lower alcohol, and we don't add sugar to sweeten our still wines - all are under 1 g/l
- "Online sales will continue to boom, up for small wineries by 154% in 2020." ~We launched our new online store in August 2020!
- “To put it simply, rosé has exploded in popularity in the last few years, but it also has a lot more versatility and seasonal range than most people realize,” ~ Check our rose wine lineup - Rose, Vintage Cuvee Rose, Sparkling Rose, Rose Brut.
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
Ferments are finishing and vintage is winding down, making this a good time to review vintage through a winemaker’s lens. Vintage 2020 was a shining star in contrast to the dismal pandemic backdrop, and Nova Scotia winemakers needed it after the 2018 June frost and very cool 2019 season. A mild winter and record heat units in 2020 made it a growing season to remember, the most grapes we have had from the Estate. Many days shattered the 30C window and it was dry, but with enough well-timed rain for our established blocks of L’Acadie and Leon Millot. These 10 year old vines have worked hard over the years to extend their roots metres deep in well drained gravels of schist and sandstone, depths that show fair resistance to drought conditions. In contrast, new blocks of two year old Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Pinot Noir needed irrigation almost every two weeks.
We pruned sparkling blocks to 20-24 buds/vine last winter and yields were 8 tonnes/hectare…if you are comparing us to Champagne (which we happily encourage) their yields are up to 10 tonnes/ha. A hurricane forecast jump started harvest on September 17 but luckily we were not affected, and we continued the sparkling pick for four weeks with an awesome group of local pickers, many that have been with us since the beginning. During that time acids only decreased minimally in true Nova Scotia fashion and the happy result is that we have many tanks of diverse sparkling bases to create our sparkling blends – some with steely acidity, some richer with more of a citrus direction. As always, seeds were brown and lignified, physiologically ripe, and bragging rights to other sparkling wine regions We pruned other blocks for Estate L’Acadie and picked ripe golden sun exposed grapes before Thanksgiving and either crushed for skin contact, or pressed whole cluster for a Tidal Bay blend, our first! The blend will be about 15% Seyval from one of our growers in Falmouth on heavier soils. Appassimento techniques for a small amount of red continue in the cellar and we expect to finish pressing this week. Yields were low in the Leon Millot block and birds outsmarted our netting - wish we had more. Be prepared to be wowed with Nova Scotia 2020 reds, released in a couple of years. It was a pleasure to have an intern from the NSCC Cool Climate Wine and Viticulture program with us for vintage -she helped with small lots, did most of the lab work and press loading and emptying. Very passionate about wine and a keen learner...expect to see more of her in our industry in the future.
Vineyard activities will continue into December with Caitlin busy rock picking and hilling the lower blocks, turning the soil under the L’Acadie and starting to prune. You might have noticed us renewing our cover crop if you visited this year. Timothy was chosen for its shallow roots and compatibility, and we will continue planting it every other row in the spring. Organic principles are to avoid bare soil for extended periods and cover crops are significant. Vegan agriculture is a part of our certified organic ethos and excludes all commercial livestock, harming of animals and inputs of animal origin. Stay tuned for more blogs about that!
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
2020 Decanter World Wine Awards in London, England awarded new release 2014 Prestige Brut Estate silver AND 92 points!! By our count, it is the highest scoring sparkling wine across Canada (tied with Fitzpatrick Winery in British Columbia) And succeeds the sold out 2013 Prestige Brut Estate that also earned silver and 92 points at the 2018 competition.