Some Tidal Bay for you city rollers

Nova Scotia's signature sip is back with its latest vintage. Here's what to expect from the 2019 crop.

click to enlarge Some Tidal Bay for you city rollers
From left to right: Lightfoot, Benjamin Bridge, and Mercator Vineyards 2019 Tidal Bays

icture yourself in mid-June. The first wave of COVID-19 has passed (hopefully) and you’re allowed to be with your friends again (or at least your family bubble).

You’ve booked a cabin for the weekend, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, on a quiet lake in rural Nova Scotia. It’s Friday night, the sun is setting and the smell of barbecue is drifting across the front lawn to the tree line, where you’re laying in a hammock, glass of wine in hand. (Dreaming is good for the soul, hold on with us here.)

Sure, this summer is slightly different than most–staycations instead of travelling and only seeing a limited group of pals–but at least you’ve still got your trusty Tidal Bay.

The province’s first appellation wine (meaning it’s from a specific region, like Champagne or Chianti), Tidal Bay was first created in 2012.

“It’s pretty, if you can call a wine pretty. It smells really clean and fresh, you can tell it’s from a colder climate,” says sommelier Alanna McIntyre, who oversees the annual Tidal Bay judging panel.

To be approved—and therefore, to be an official Tidal Bay—a wine must meet a variety of production standards (including growing 100 percent of the grapes in Nova Scotia, ageing the wine in stainless steel barrels rather than oak and passing a taste test from a panel of judges).

Although the wines always have a similar overall vibe, McIntyre says they change year to year and vineyard to vineyard. “It’s a wine that tastes of place, and I think people have to accept that, too. Like, this is what the climate gave us this year,” she says. “This year with Tidal Bay the acidity level is definitely higher than in the past. So embrace the acid, embrace the freshness.”

This year, the Wines of Nova Scotia 12 Tides Event—where the annual Tidal Bays from vineyards across the province that pass the test are released—was scheduled to be held on May 8. But like many other events this spring, the unveiling was cancelled due to COVID-19.

“The 12 Tides event was a great way to promote and get excited about the latest vintage,” McIntyre says.

The sommelier adds the latest bottles are often the best when it comes to Tidal Bay. “These wines you don’t want to hold on to them for years and years. They’re not going to get any better, you’re going to want to consume them when they’re fresh,” she says.

An announcement on the Wines of Nova Scotia website says the industry is “working together to come up with an exciting new concept that will focus on Nova Scotia’s wine country and involve a safe celebration of the 2019 vintage at a later date.”

One option? Bishop’s Cellar (where McIntyre works) will be selling pre-set cases of the 12 available Tidal Bays from their online store for home delivery on May 27, ‘Tidal Bay Day,’ with coordinated online tastings and education from experts.

But McIntyre is worried this could mean reduced sales and an uncertain future for some wineries, who depend on tourist season to sell much of their stock. She’s hopeful they can find innovative ways to market their new releases.

“If the wineries and private stores are up with their social media, then it’s another way to draw people in and to spend money,” says McIntyre. “People do want to support local, so I think that local wine, beer and spirit sales will go up. We want to keep the money in the economy.”

And many wineries are shifting to online business models, as well as planning for soft re-openings with social distancing measures in place later this summer. In the meantime, there are still Tidal Bays to get your hands on. Here's three to get you started:

1. Benjamin Bridge (9% ABV, $22)

This pale gold variety is made with l’Acadie, Riseling and Ortega varietals of grapes, grown on south-facing hills along the Gaspereau River. This refreshing blend has an aroma of apricots, lemon and mint and brings in salty undertones to emphasize the Nova Scotian terroire. Benjamin Bridge is offering free shipping across Canada on orders over $50, delivery in HRM and Wolfville, and “drive-thru” service at the vineyard until they can re-open. BUY IT HERE

2. Mercator Vineyards (11% ABV, $25)

The Mercator Tidal Bay this year incorporates the usual fresh apple, peach and lemon rind, but also has subtle spicy notes and an off-dry finish. Using several of grapes including L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, New York Muscat, Petite Milo and Chardonnay, this wine was also finished with New York Muscat grapes. Right now it’s available to be shipped (minimum 1 case but you can mix and match to your heart’s desire), or picked up at the other vineyards owned by Devonian Coast, Jost and Gaspereau. BUY IT HERE

3. Lightfoot & Wolfville (10% ABV, 21$)

This bottle, with a sleek, vintage-looking label, contains a blend of L’Acadie blanc, Chardonnay, Geisenheim-318 and Vidal Blanc grapes. Because of last year’s cold growing season, it’s super fresh and has classic Tidal Bay notes like citrus. Lightfoot is doing free home delivery in HRM on orders with three bottles or more, free Canada-wide shipping ($150 minimum) or pick-up at their store on Saturdays if you’re up for a weekend drive to the Valley. BUY IT HERE

About The Author

Victoria Walton

Victoria was a full-time reporter with The Coast from April 2020 until mid-2022, when the CBC lured her away. During her Coast tenure, she covering everything from COVID-19 to small business to politics and social justice. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College...

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