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Tidal bae: the best three Tidal Bays of the 2017 vintage

We blind tasted the latest round of Nova Scotia’s wine sweetheart.

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JESSICA EMIN
  • JESSICA EMIN

You pull a bottle out of a cooler of mostly melted ice, water drips down the label and onto the dock. You pour the almost clear, cool liquid into glasses for you and your friends jumping off the floating raft in the lake. The sun is behind the trees. Apple blossom petals float on the edge of the water. Your feet dangle off the dock, you take a sip and your nose is filled with rhubarb and grapefruit. Your tongue feels prickly, your mouth waters. Not even the leeches, surely dancing around your toes, could ruin this. The new vintage of Tidal Bay is here, as fun and approachable as a Nova Scotian summer.

Every spring the 12 Tides event and tasting marks the release of the previous summer’s Tidal Bay. Each winery producing Tidal Bay blends and bottle their grapes, releasing them to the masses in the month of May. These are usually some of the first bottles that Nova Scotia wineries open from their previous vintage. Tidal Bay is a style of wine unique to our province, and reflective of our growing climate. These wines are fresh, crisp and light, with aroma that jumps out of the glass and a lively, mouthwatering acidity. When you pick up a bottle of Tidal Bay you can expect the consistency of the style, but each winery’s take will have different notes and subtleties.

Any of the province’s wineries can make Tidal Bay, as long as they adhere to the guidelines of the style. There is an allowable blend of several grape varieties that highlight the best of what our wine regions can produce, and the wine must be made from 100 percent Nova Scotia grapes. Although a tasting panel evaluates the wines each year to make sure that they fit the style, that doesn’t mean that each winery can’t make theirs unique with their own special blend.



Every year, to pick my top three bottles I taste all of the wines blind—with the help of the Bishop’s Cellar staff at the 12 Tides event—and rate them based on balance, complexity and how they live up to the style. Meaning the wine should taste like Tidal Bay, but the real winners are those that balance acidity and sweetness, and show multiple layers of flavour and aroma.

When should I drink Tidal Bay?
It’s a ready-to-drink wine—so enjoy now and while it lasts, because the best of each year usually sell out fast. It’s very versatile because of its low alcohol and easy-going profile, so whether you’re drinking it on a beach, patio or with some seafood you’ll likely be pleased. It’s sold at the wineries, the handful of private wine shops, the Seaport Farmers’ Market and the NSLC.

And what should I eat with it?
Light white wines that are aromatic and high in acid are very versatile for food pairing. You can pair to match the wine, or to contrast the wine. To match the wine you want foods that are also light, bright and full of life—think salads with citrus or berries, ceviche, or trout with vegetables like asparagus or fennel on the barbecue.

To contrast this beautifully acidic wine, it can be nice to use it to wash away or refresh your palate after something fatty, or rich. So you could pair Tidal Bay with buttery lobster rolls with charred lemon, deep-fried fish burgers with creamy slaw or oysters Rockefeller. It’s a friend to vegetables, fruit and especially seafood.

JESSICA EMIN
  • JESSICA EMIN

|1. Luckett Vineyards
(11% ABV)

Grape blend: l’Acadie Blanc, Ortega, Seyval, Vidal, Traminette
One of the most complex and layered offerings of Tidal Bay that I have had in recent years, from winemaker Mike Mainguy. With notes that are most reflective of its terroir, too, it transports me to the Gaspereau Valley almost instantly. This wine has aromas of apple blossom, apple, lemon juice, rose and some minerality, like that smell after it rains. On the palate, grapefruit, tart green apple, gooseberry, rhubarb and grass. The best of the year: Dry, interesting and vivacious.

2. Planters Ridge (11% ABV)

JESSICA EMIN
  • JESSICA EMIN
Grape blend:  l’Acadie Blanc,
Frontenac Blanc, Frontenac Gris,
NY Muscat, Seyval

Planters Ridge is definitely making the prettiest Tidal Bay of this vintage, especially for those lovers of NY Muscat, which brings on a cotton candy and lychee aroma typical of the grape. Although there is only a small amount of Muscat in the blend (grape varieties listed above are by prominence in the blend) it really makes a significant difference in the aroma of the wine. On the nose there are strong notes of cotton candy and lychee, followed by strawberry and melon. On the palate, those NY Muscat notes carry over, along with strawberry, lemon, passionfruit and apple. Slightly sweet on the finish, but lifted by the acid.1.

3. Avondale Sky Winery (9.6% ABV)

JESSICA EMIN
  • JESSICA EMIN
Grape blend: l’Acadie Blanc, Vidal, Geisenheim 318, Petite Milo, Ortega
This small winery and its winemaker Ben Swetnam consistently make one of the best Tidal Bays. This is the freshest, and greenest of the new vintage with a nose of lime, green apple, chalk and honeydew melon. On the palate, more lime, tart apple and passionfruit.

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