Results of the 2017 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

Tidal Bay

Intro by Craig Pinhey

What is Tidal Bay, you might ask? Many people think it is a brand when they hear of it and/or taste it for the first time. It’s not. It’s an appellation, in the same way that Chateuneuf du Pape, Chianti Classico or Vinho Verde are appellations.

This means it has very specific rules about where it can come from (wineries that are members of Wines of Nova Scotia only, at the moment), what grapes can be used and in what proportion (there must be a minimum percentage of base grapes like Chardonnay or Acadie Blanc, and aromatic varieties like New York Muscat are capped to avoid overtly floral wines), and the minimum acid and maximum sugar levels, amongst other things.  It also means that wines must be submitted to an experienced tasting panel to ensure that they meet the requirements for Tidal Bay.

Those of us on the tasting panel look for several things. The intention of Tidal Bay, as laid out by the team that developed the appellation, was to produce a white blend that was indicative of our cool climate terroir, with fresh acidity and perfect for pairing with local seafood.  This means the wine should not be perceived as too sweet or too tart. It should not have too much floral character, but it should not be thin and flavourless, either. It must be balanced, but fresh and food friendly.

A typical Tidal Bay wine exhibits citrus, green apple, white flowers and wet stone minerality. The body is medium and the acid is fresh, with enough residual sugar to balance. It should definitely finish with enough acidity to cleanse the palate after an oyster, mussels, scallops, haddock, or lobster.

Now that the appellation has been in place for several years, the wineries and the tasting panel are pretty much in sync, and the resulting wines reflect the intention of the appellation. They are all similar, but there are individual differences owing to the base grapes used, the percentage of aromatic varieties, and the differing winemaking styles. That’s as it should be.

When you taste the medal winning Tidal Bay wines from 2016, they won’t all taste the same, but there should be a commonality, just as there would be for Napa Cabernet, or Spanish Rioja, or white Burgundy from France. To wear Tidal Bay on the label, these wines must evoke the feeling of sitting on a beach or restaurant patio by the shore, drinking wine while enjoying fresh seafood or just enjoying a delicious drink while observing the tidal ebb and flow.

That’s the Tidal Bay appellation, in a seashell.

Silver Medal

Gaspereau 2016 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Domaine de Grand Pré 2016 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Planters Ridge 2016 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Lightfoot & Wolfville 2016 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Jost 2016 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia

Bronze Medal

Annapolis Highland 2016 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia