L’Acadie Vineyards: An East Coast Sparkling Pioneer

Ah, Nova Scotia. As one of Canada’s maritime provinces, this part of the country conjures up images of cool sea breezes, high tides, salt water taffy and delicious, buttery lobster rolls. For us, however, first and foremost are… drumroll, please… the amazing sparkling wines! 😍🍾

Today’s COVID reality has prevented us from visiting and enjoying Canada’s Atlantic Coast (which is under a sensible but taxing two week minimum quarantine for Ontario residents). Thankfully, we have some great bubbles from L’Acadie’s latest release to enjoy (more on those in a moment!), and tide us over until it’s safe to visit (or we have 4 weeks of vacation to spare). For a deep dive regarding their sparkling wine production, check out our visitor’s guide from 2017.

L’Acadie Vineyard: A Pioneer

Today, we’re honing in on one of Nova Scotia’s original sparkling wine producers: L’Acadie Vineyards! L’Acadie Vineyards (310 Slayter Rd, Gaspereau, RR1, Wolfville, NS) is located in the centre of the temperate Gaspereau Valley. 

The winery is located on a pronounced slope, allowing for natural earth insulation for their wines and benefiting from the moderating effects of the Gaspereau River and the surrounding valley. On top of that (no pun intended – as the valley is at the bottom of a slope), the winery is famous for embracing the namesake grape – L’Acadie Blanc – which is a complex hybrid of several Vitis genus grapes and is sometimes referred to as Nova Scotia’s answer to Chardonnay. 

A Grape That Inspires

Originally created in Ontario, where it was too warm for L’Acadie to truly prosper, it was taken out to Nova Scotia where the terroir and climate proved to be a perfect match. 

L’Acadie Vineyards uses the grape to craft exceptional traditional method sparkling wines, including the Prestige Brut, Sparkling Rosé and Vintage Cuvée, which we tasted back in 2017. Our personal favourite was the 2007 Prestige Brut, which is aged on the lees for 4-5 years and displays complex toasty characteristics and elegant, bright aromas that helps create an appreciation for the use of hybrid grapes in traditional method sparkling wine. It’s no surprise that this wine has received many accolades, including the Silver Medal at the 2011 Effervescents du Monde, Best Sparkling Wines in the World in Dijon, France. Needless to say we were incredibly excited to taste the latest vintage of this great wine!

A Spark, An Idea, then Sparkling Wine

Bruce Ewert,  L’Acadie’s founder, proprietor and head winemaker, had the vision to turn organically grown L’Acadie Blanc grapes into hand crafted, bottle fermented sparkling wines.

An Organic Love Affair

By now, we’ve probably hammered home that the winery specializes in traditional method sparkling wine, made from the eponymous L’Acadie grape. Good, that’s what we’re here for.  But did you know that the winery is also Nova Scotia’s first organic winery? That’s certainly something worth celebrating!

Speaking of celebrating, the winery is doing just that in support of Organic Week, a cross-Canada celebration of organic growers in many industries. To celebrate, we had the pleasure of tasting three wines, one of which is a pre-release. More on that in a minute, bear with us, as we make a small note about how L’Acadie is leaving its own organic imprint.

According to a recent interview with Bruce for Organic Week, Environmental initiatives in the winery include a geothermal heat pump for heating, cooling and hot water, a building construction with sustainable material (i.e.wooden timber frames, cedar exterior doors, and concrete insulated walls). The winery also features an infrared reflecting roof and it built into the slope (which we mentioned before) to take advantage of natural earth insulation, keeping the tirage cellar at a constant temperature for optimum aging of their sparkling wines.

A Few Words on the New Release

If there is sparkling wine, you know we will be there to talk about it. All this to say, it’s a pleasure for us to share with you three wines, one of which was a pre-release. 

One of the interesting elements of L’Acadie’s story is their dedication to hybrid grapes – whether the eponymous L’Acadie grape or others, such as Seyval Blanc. As lovers of high acid sparkling wines, we have learned to embrace the acidity and unique salinity of Nova Scotia’s wines, as well as the place they hybrid grapes have in (very) cool climate winemaking regions. Created to be cold hardy, early ripening and other factors contributing to balanced wines, hybrid grapes can offer sparkling winemakers high acid but balanced base wines, resulting in bubbles that are finessed and enjoyable.

The 2017 Vintage Rose is immediately pleasing, with its beautiful salmon colour. The wine is made in the Traditional Method, from a blend of hybrid grapes –  36% L’Acadie Blanc, 55% Marechal Foch, 7% Leon Millot (Cape Breton), 1% Luci Kuhlmann (Cape Breton), 1% Seyval. If you’re curious, the Luci Kuhlmann – despite the low percentage in the overall blend – adds significant acidity to the blend. Brut in style, this wine strikes a balance between red fruit notes common for pink bubbles and autolytic character. We often find the latter gets lost in Rosé Sparkling Wine, so we were very happy to see these persist in this beautiful sparkling. The wine is characterized otherwise by tart red fruit, white cranberry and field berry, as well as a hint of black cherry.

The 2017 Vintage Cuvee is what we’d call a crowd pleaser. This wine is made from mostly L’Acadie, rounded out by Seyval Blanc. The nose and palate are defined by white tree fruit, citrus, lemon zest, juicy apple, honeydew and tropical fruit (think pineapple). Made in the Traditional Method and aged sur lie for two years, this wine is well balanced and characterized by a lovely mousse.

The 2014 Prestige Brut Estate is a premium offering from L’Acadie. We are always curious about the impact of terroir on our bubbles, so we dove deep on the details. The Prestige Brut Estate was grown on the winery’s estate on the south side of Gaspereau Valley, planted in 2005 on a deep schist, with a sandstone and sand base on what was once an ancient seabed. We recall making a quick visit with Bruce to this beautiful spot several years ago. According to Bruce, a multi year terroir study conducted by experts from the Bordeaux revealed that the grapevine roots are three feet deep. The roots work hard to feed the vines and produce exceptional fruit. Made from 100% L’Acadie aged sur lie for almost three years, the wine is characterized by toasty notes (think brioche), honey and nuts and ripe apple, together with minerality and salinity that reflects vineyard’s ancient seabed origins and proximity to the Bay of Fundy.