Nova Scotia's Signature White Wine
Since 2011, Nova Scotia wineries have been producing the region’s signature white wine style known as Tidal Bay. Tidal Bay is an appellation of origin wine, created by the Winery Association of Nova Scotia (WANS) in the model of fine European wine regions. To create a wine labelled as Tidal Bay, not only must the wineries adhere to a long list of production standards and craft their wines from a curated list of varietals, each wine must pass the judgement of a panel of experts to ensure the wine has the characteristic aromas and flavours of Nova Scotia's terroir. The wines must be “fresh, crisp, dryish, still, white with a bright, ‘signature Nova Scotia’ aromatic component”, and the results have been phenomenal!
What’s an Appellation?
In the wine world, the term ‘appellation’ refers to both a geographical boundary and a set of rules governing the production of wines within that region. In most New World regions, the appellation simply ensures the grapes are sourced from the place indicated on the label. Tidal Bay, like its European counterparts, is much more than simply an assurance of the source of grapes. Tidal Bay is governed by a strict rules of production including the grapes allowed to make Tidal Bay and the techniques used to produce it.
How Tidal Bay is Made: The Rules
- 100% Nova Scotia – all grapes used to make Tidal Bay must be grown in Nova Scotia
- Signature Grapes – the majority of the wine must be made individually or from a combination of Nova Scotia’s signature grape varietals including L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval, Vidal or Geisenheim 318. Other varieties are permitted to add aromatic seasoning but cannot dominate the final character of the wine.
- Vinification – the wines must be vinified in an inert container such as stainless steel to preserve the freshness of the wines. The wine can be aged in up 20% new oak but if the wine tastes oaky, it will be rejected by the tasting panel.
- Concentration – to ensure the concentration of flavours, the yields (amount of grapes as measured in tonnes) per acre of vineyard has a threshold. For Tidal Bay it is four tonnes per acre.
- Balance – To ensure the wines strike the right balance of body, acidity and fruitiness, wineries must adhere to minimum and maximum alcohol standards, minimum acidity levels and maximum sugar levels.
The Tidal Bay Judging Process
Every wine that earns the right to name itself Tidal Bay must first pass a tasting panel analysis. The yet to be released wines are sent to a third party that hosts a blind tasting for the judging panel consisting of wine writers, educators and sommeliers. The group is presented wines in a blind format meaning the judges are completely unaware which winery’s products they are tasting. Over the years the members of the tasting panel have trained their palates to focus on the flavour profiles they believe best represent Tidal Bay. Wineries have up to four attempts to present their wines to the tasting panel each year, while they never want to fail any samples, the judges take the responsibility of ensuring consumers are guaranteed of the quality and consistency of wines labelled as Tidal Bay and score the wine from one to five:
- A score of one indicates the wine is faulted as a result of an error in the winemaking process
- A score of two indicates the wine isn’t faulted but has failed the tasting. Usually this means the panel feels the wine does not represent the qualities of Tidal Bay
- Wines receiving scores between three and five have automatically passed the tasting, with five being reserved for wines the judges feel best represent Tidal Bay