A few weeks ago one of the most highly regarded and well known sommeliers of the US was visiting Montréal. He had his priorities straight: poutine, bagels, smoked salmon and get his hands on a bottle of sparkling wine from Benjamin Bridge. He had read about this producer who supposedly makes stunning sparkling from Nova Scotia. How can this be possible? I could see the skepticism in his eyes. A part of me understood. Another snowstorm (in April!) had just hit the city and Nova Scotia was further east. Wouldn’t it take until the summer for the snow banks to melt? How can vines grow successfully?
Gerry McConnell and Dara Gordon did not decide to go into this venture blindly when they founded Benjamin Bridge in 1999. Internationally recognized, the winemaking consultant Peter J. Gamble along with winemaker and partner Ann Sperling were hired as early as 2000 to help with the project. Their work coupled with the expertise of the highly regarded Champagne consultant Raphaël Brisbois led Benjamin Bridge to achieve the most improbable: real world class sparkling made from Nova Scotia. Parallels were made between the cool climate of the Gaspereau Valley in the Bay of Fundy and the esteemed region of Champagne; one of the key ingredients to their success.
Those who know these wines well have all been fooled before. One of the things wine geeks like to do when they get together is blind taste each other on wine. This summer, when about 20 of us were reunited for a friend’s birthday, we were put to the test. This stunning and elegant sparkling wine could not be from anywhere else then Champagne. The searing acidity and the complexity was the give away. Wrong, wrong and wrong. All of us! It was the 2008 Brut Réserve from Benjamin Bridge that left us begging for more. A blend of 61% Chardonnay and 39% Pinot Noir, the quality justifies the price ($74.50 at the winery).
Mother’s day is not that far away. Why not spoil your mum with something special and local this year. Share the 2011 Rosé with your mum and give her a bottle of the 2008 Brut so that she can spoil herself later. The wines are worth every penny and your mother deserves the best. Santé!
Try these MWC favourites from Benjamin Bridge. Plus, get these wines and more with Free Shipping from Benjamin Bridge. Mix up a pack of 6 bottles or more and the shipping is free for a limited time!
2011 Rosé - Light rose in colour, this beautiful sparkling rosé has delightful aromas of fresh strawberries, cherry, raspberry and lemon fruit. A superb wine that will have you coming back for more. Perfect to enjoy this Spring with Mom! ($49.95)
2015 Nova 7 - A gorgeous sparkling blend of seven grape varietals. Captivating aromatic notes of jasmine and white rose, citrus and passion fruit come off the nose. A fan favourite and the perfect accompaniment to any celebration! ($26.95)
2014 Tidal Bay - Elegant and refined, you can expect crisp aromas of lemon, green apple, and orchard blossom with crisp acidity on the palate. An excellent afternoon white to enjoy with Mom! ($23.95)
Michelle Bouffard is a wine educator and journalist who splits her time between Montréal & Vancouver. She is the president of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. She Tweets @michellebwine and Instagrams @michellebouffard.