Throughout 2014, I am featuring a wine and its story from wineries I have visited. In week 1, I celebrated New Year with L’Acadie Prestige Brut, Week 2, dinner parties finished with Karlo Estates’s Van Alstine White (port). This week, as the wind howls and the temperature drops, I think of icewine, the best thing to come out of a Canadian winter. There are a lot of sensational Canadian icewines but this is my absolute favourite.
The wine: Benjamin Bridge Borealis Icewine ’09
The wine is made from predominantly Vidal grapes with just a touch of New York Muscat. Benjamin Bridge only make icewine in years they consider consistent with the highest quality of grapes. Their vintages so far are ’04, ’07, ’09 and ’12. However ’09 is the vintage currently on sale. It has been aged four years before release. $35.98 /200 ml 9.8% alc. Brix 37 at harvest.
The winery: Benjamin Bridge
Located in the Gaspereau Valley of Nova Scotia, Benjamin Bridge has brought the attention of the world to this often overlooked wine region. It uses organic practices for its estate grown vines and works closely with the other vineyards which are its suppliers.
The owners: Gerry McConnell and his daughters Devon and Ashley McConnell-Gordon
Gerry MacConnell brings deep pockets, international experts, enduring patience and a commitment to wine excellence to ensure that all the conditions are right for the wines his winery produces. Both of his daughters are an integral part of its operation. It was a business especially close to the heart of his late wife Dara Gordon.
The winemakers: Jean-Benoit Deslauriers is the on-site winemaker but internationally known wine consultants, Peter Gamble and Raphael Brisbois, have closely mentored other BB releases. The ’09 vintage of Borealis is totally Deslauriers.
A new triumph for winemaking in Nova Scotia.” 3 out of 3 stars – Sean Wood
Why I chose this wine:
Benjamin Bridge is far better known for its premium traditional method Reserve Brut sparklings, and its “sexy” moscato d’asti style Nova 7. There are almost no reviews written about their Borealis Icewine but it is a favourite with many Halifax chefs when planning special dinners.
All Nova Scotia icewines are excellent, but this one stands out because it has been aged in the bottle for four years before it is released.
According to Peter Gamble, “We love the amazing brilliance that the Nova Scotia climate can bring to Icewine, with piercing levels of acidity and vibrant fruit clarity and the spectacular age-ability that results. Very classic. That’s why we release it so long after harvest; so it has a chance to harmonize in bottle, and gain complexity. ”
Jean-Benoit’s tasting notes say it all:
In the glass, a deep golden colour with a subtle orange hue. On the nose, the wine displays a myriad of dried apricot, peach confit and sweet cream. On the palate, the wine is opulent, with notes of honeydew, lemon tart and a hint of caramelized apples. Like its celebrated predecessors from the ’04 and ’07 vintages, this icewine remains surprisingly bright and elegant despite a most decadent personality.”
I bought my first bottle as a Valentine’s Day gift to my husband. It’s a lot of money for a very small amount of icewine, but like fine Belgian truffles it’s worth the extra cost . This should only be shared with a lover, otherwise enjoy it all by yourself, one small glass a day till it’s gone.
Borealis icewine is available through the NSLC, PEICC, LCBO Vintages and select retailers in Alberta and can be ordered online at from the winery
Other blogs I’ve written on Benjamin Bridge
Welcome in 2014 with Nova Scotia Bubbly
Examiner.com 20123 Benjamin Bridge rosé to celebrate Canadian Athletes
Fall 2013 issue of Saltscapes magazine, Raise a Glass!
For more information on the making of Icewine see my 2009 Examiner.com blog. The Icewine Harvest is Complete