Meet Nova Scotia's newest winery, Planters Ridge. Nova Scotia's wine scene has been gaining more attention recently, which we can chalk up to a rise in the number of great quality wines and a more unified vision and marketing around the wines (see Tidal Bay). But don't think just because you haven't heard much about Nova Scotian wine until recently that it's a new region. Vines have been grown here since the 1600s—among the first cultivated regions in North America. Planters Ridge is embracing the history of the land; the name references the fact that the farm was part of an original land grant by the Lieutenant Governor offered to the New England Planter families in 1760.
The property is in the stunning Annapolis Valley, near Port Williams, and you can see the Minas Basin at high tide. A tidal airflow off of the Bay of Fundy is important for the region—it moderates temperatures, discourages pests and mildew, and safeguards against frost in spring and fall.
John McLarty and Lisa Law purchased the 7.5-acre farm with a 150-year-old house and barn in 2010 and planted vines in 2011. They stuck to the grapes that others have been finding success with in Nova Scotia's cool climate: L'Acadie Blanc, Frontenac Gris, New York Muscat, Riesling, Marquette, Lucie Kuhlmann, and Castel. John and Lisa brought Natalie Spytkowsky aboard as a consulting winemaker—known best for her long and highly awarded stint as winemaker at Rosewood Winery.
I recently got the chance to sit down and taste a few of their wines for the first time and I can't wait to taste more in the future—especially their Tidal Bay which is an appellation I've yet to be disappointed with.
2014 Chardonnay - Even thought I'd never tasted a Nova Scotian Chardonnay, I was amazed at how distinctly 'Nova Scotian' this wine's characters were. The first smell immediately transported me back, spurred by the freshness of green fruit and citrus: melon, grapefruit, lemon, and lime. There is a little creaminess on the palate with almond, pineapple, and some restrained vanilla characters from the oak coming through. This is very much a lighter and fresher style of Chardonnay— it's delicious and my favourite from the group. ($24.99, 12% alc.)
2013 Quintessence Red - This is a juicy and concentrated blend of hybrid grapes Marquette, Castel, and Lucie Kuhlmann. Characters of black currant with subtle herbal, leafy notes and a lifted cinnamon heart spice come through. (13% alc., $23.99)
2015 Valley Nectar - This is mead made from Nova Scotian honey sourced from Brandt's Bees in Wolfville. It's lifted and bright with floral and aromatic spice notes. It's rich and sweet without being syrupy or cloying. I imagine this would be a lovely pairing with a spread of cheese. (11% alc., $17.99).
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.