News

Loose the snobbery and try some N.B. wines

Wednesday, December 7 2011

This post relates to Richibucto River Wine Estate

In his weekly column, Bob Osborne pays a visit to Richibucto River Wine Estate in N.B. and tastes some great wines.

Bob Osborne has also tasted marvelous wines from Magnetic Hill Winery in Moncton, Mott’s Landing in Cambridge Narrows and several others. We need to encourage this new extension of agriculture in New Brunswick and support the efforts of these pioneers. You can check out New Brunswick vineyards at the New Brunswick Grape Growers Association website.

The best part of this process is losing that wine snobbery. Sure I’ll still love malbec from Argentina or a cabernet from the Napa Valley, but I’ll also be stocking bottles from our very own terroir.

Read whole article :

Grapes have now lost their leaves.

Wild sprawling vines have turned deep brown – notice that they have gone into a deep dormancy that will not break ‘til the warmth of mid-May summons them again. Only a few decades ago most gardeners would tell you that grapes could not be grown here; far too cold and with a season that shuts the vines down before the sugars can temper the acids. One would never have guessed back then that the Atlantic provinces would be awash in vines by 2011.

Nova Scotia now boasts fine vineyards that have made use of recent developments in short season hardy grape varieties. There are a plethora of high sugar varieties that can suffer temperatures of -35C and still produce the following year.

I have to admit to being a wine snob in the past. My first tastes of locally made wine made my mouth cringe as the acidity made its way to the back corners of my tongue.

I have come full circle and a recent visit to the Richibucto River Winery has solidified my induction as an appreciator of New Brunswick-grown wines. Alan Hudson has taken a laudatory plunge into the financially precarious world of wines by planting 5 acres of vines.

This vineyard is situated in an ideal location on a slope above the Richibucto River. Air travels through the vineyard on cool nights, reducing the chances of early spring and late fall frosts. The tempering effect of the nearby ocean means a longer growing season than many of us have. The soil is well-drained, even gravelly in places. Vines like such soils, as it allows their roots to go deep for nutrients and minerals. Such vines are less likely to suffer in dry years.

Alan grows Frontenac, a new red grape from Minnesota with the ability to survive cold winters and short seasons. It has wonderful flavours and a deep rich colour. Another variety is an older one, Marechal Foch from France. This hybrid has been used for decades in the colder regions and produces red wines of great character and depth.

There are white grape varieties that are new on the scene such as Prairie Star. This hardy vine is used both as a varietal and as a blending grape.

The biggest hurdle for cold climate growers has been acidity. A wine can have great flavour but if there is too much acidity no one will notice. The winemaker must find ways to treat acidity yet there must be balance. Too much will make even a sip a bad experience; too little will make the wine flabby, uninteresting.

Alan’s shop looks like the chemistry lab of a mad scientist. He must keep track of the amounts of several acids, sugar content, pH and a host of other factors that will influence the end result. It is that end result I tasted.

I sipped wines that were fruity, very approachable and inviting. A good wine is soft yet has enough acidity to be refreshing. Here the balance was achieved.

The Frontenac is a variety in its own right. You know you are not tasting a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon. It is distinctive with wonderful cherry overtones. I loved it. The Marechal Foch was rich and heady. He even had made a Valiant rosé that would be welcomed on any wine lover’s table. Valiant is not considered a wine grape but here one could not argue with the successful result.

Richibucto River is not the only winery producing good wines. I have tasted marvelous wines from Magnetic Hill Winery in Moncton, Mott’s Landing in Cambridge Narrows and several others. We need to encourage this new extension of agriculture in New Brunswick and support the efforts of these pioneers. You can check out New Brunswick vineyards at the New Brunswick Grape Growers Association website.

The best part of this process is losing that wine snobbery. Sure I’ll still love malbec from Argentina or a cabernet from the Napa Valley, but I’ll also be stocking bottles from our very own terroir.

  • Bob Osborne is the owner of Corn Hill Nursery Ltd., a member of Landscape New Brunswick, an author, farmer and gardener.

News archives

Share this page