It’s Nova 7 Time – across Canada!
I discovered Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 when I visited Nova Scotia back in 2013, The friendly folks at Bishop’s Cellar, one of the province’s four private wine stores, described a marketing campaign for the Nova 7 annual release that is similar to that of Beaujolais Nouveau.
They told me all about the publicity that leads up to its Victoria Day Weekend release and banners proclaiming “it’s Nova 7 Time!” festooning an entire wall of their wine store stocked high with bottles of Nova 7. It’s routinely sold out as the enthusiastic customers rush to purchase a summer supply.
Every year since, Benjamin Bridge, the not so secret weapon of the Nova Scotia wine industry, is taking on the country selling their Nova 7 across Canada.
On a wine tour of Nova Scotia in 2013, I went to unravel the mystery of Benjamin Bridge. Although its wines were sold through the Liquor Commission or online, their winery was only open to the public by appointment. They rarely ever competed in wine competitions. This has since changed and they are open to drop in visitors.
Their rationale back then was understandable, their icewine and table wines are more expensive than most Nova Scotia wines They are best known for their sparkling wines which at that time started at $44.50 for their rosé and rose to $74.50 for their more recent Brut Reserve. Their earlier and limited edition and late disgorged sparklings had ranged between $119.50 for their 2004 Blanc de Noirs and $275.50 for their 2004 Blanc de Blanc Reserve. The price was easily justified by the supervision of the late Raphael Brisbois, a world-famous sparkling winemaker and consultant.
They have since become more competitive in the local market with the development of an NV Brut and NV rosé which is a blend of vintages and predominantly popular hybrid vines including l’acadie, seyval, vidal blended with chardonnay and pinot noir which sold for under $30.
People who want their table wines can easily find them at the wine stores, but wineries’ don’t like to crack open a $74 bottle of wine for every casual drop in. For the same reason, you will not find Benjamin Bridge wines in the national wine competitions. Leading wine writers and critics across the country have already raved about their wines at special tasting events and they simply don’t need the affirmation of a bunch of medals to attract their target market of high-end wine connoisseurs.
BB’s business consultants include Ann Sperling and Peter Gamble whose names are golden in the Canadian wine industry, Its onsite winemaker, Jean-Benoit Deslauriers, has gained his winemaking experience in a number of the world’s great wine regions.
It takes a lot of money and patience to succeed in the wine business. Fortunately, its owner, Gerry McConnell, well known in Nova Scotia for his business acumen in the mining field and his international philanthropy had plenty of both. The winery had been a dream he had shared with his late wife Dara as well as their daughters, Devon and Ashley.
Nova 7 was fashioned by Peter Gamble to resemble a Moscato di Asti style of wine that he and Ann enjoy for summer sipping with friends. One of its major ingredients is New York Muscat an aromatic hybrid with pink grapefruit, lychee and citrus notes. The winemaker’s tasting notes add jasmine, white rose and passion fruit to the nose and hints of mango and candied green apple on the palate. The wine is fragrant, with a mist of bubbles and pale salmon in colour. It pairs well with seafood, salads and spicy foods and at only 7% alcohol works well as a light aperitif wine.
While many Nova Scotian wineries still only sell half of their wines through the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission NSLC and are still waiting for the interprovincial barriers ton wine sales to come down, Nova 7 and several of Benjamin Bridge wines are available at premium wine stores across Canada.
The impact of Nova 7 has had a huge national and local impact evident by the fact that a Nova Scotia wine made predominantly from hybrids not allowed by Ontario’s Vintage Quality Assurance (VQA) standards can sell out across Canada and, at the same time, close to 200,000 bottles will be bought in Nova Scotia alone at a price $5.00 higher than comparable Nova Scotia table wines.
The Nova Scotia, I left in 2010 was only just waking up to the fact that it had a wine industry. Thanks to Gerry McConnell and Nova 7, the rest of Canada got the wake-up call in 2014.
Pick up a bottle of Nova 7 at a premium wine store near you. You never really have to say farewell to Nova Scotia.
Previous blogs that I’ve written on Benjamin Bridge winery