The year ahead in wine

Danny co-owns Innovative Beverages, is an importer of fine wines and is a CAPSAC-certified sommelier. Photo: Tammy Fancy

It’s going to be an exciting year for wine in Halifax as selection continues to grow, and more great restaurants open. This, along with an increased awareness of the importance of quality wine as part of the experience of dining, is increasing. More Nova Scotia wineries are opening in 2014, and we will continue the embracing of all things local.
So what else is in on the horizon in the world of wine?
Blended wines. Winemakers love being able to take the best characteristics of different grapes and combine them to make a wine that is stylistic and tasty. This year will see more traditional blends like GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre) increase in popularity, as we continue to explore this trend. In white wines, look for blends of Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gewurtzraminer. The Nova Scotia experiment of the Tidal Bay blends has been successful, and the quality of these wines gets better with each vintage.
Rosé and Sparkling. When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt make a rosé you know there is a trend happening. The selection of rosé wines in Halifax has been pretty poor up to now, but 2014 will be the year that we get to explore more of these fun and delicious wines. Let’s hope we see the great rosé of Provence side by side with local ones.
Sparkling wine, like Prosecco from Italy, is starting to show up on more restaurant and bar menus. It is refreshing to see young people drinking wine responsibly in downtown Halifax. I wish I had been that sensible and smart.
The everyday sommelier. You don’t need to read a wine critic’s review anymore with the wealth of wine information on the Internet and social media. There are now more than 500 wine apps available for the iPhone alone. This wealth of information has made us all able to be mini-sommeliers, or at least more educated on our choices. This trend will continue to take the snobbishness out of wine. With one touch you can find information on almost anything wine-related. Social media allows us to share our choices instantly. How great is that!
Wine tourism grows. Isn’t it lucky for Nova Scotia that just as we are coming into our own with the local wine culture, the term “winecation” is suddenly prevalent. This a great way to see a region of a country, experience the culture, and eat local food paired with wine. Whether you are in Tuscany or the Annapolis Valley, this is a trend that is not going away soon. Let’s hope we capitalize on it here as a way to grow tourism.
Calorie-conscious consumers. As much as I cringe when I see products with the label Skinny Girl, this is a trend that is gaining momentum. We are analyzing more and more of what we put in our bodies, and wine is no different. Low-calorie or “healthier” wines are now available in many markets. How long until we see them in Halifax?
Pop culture in wine. As evidenced by the above Brangelina rosé, this is a trend that continues to grow. There is an attraction to celebrity-endorsed wines, and we still seem to embrace everything they do. Dave Matthew’s wine launched in Nova Scotia to some success in 2013, and other celebrities with deep pockets are lining up to endorse more wines. Let’s hope that we never, ever see a Rob Ford wine.
Wine as a shared experience. We all like to gather with friends and family, and wine gives us the perfect reason to do this. As a wine professional, nothing pleases me more than hearing a personal experience about wine that one of my friends has had. The sharing of wine, especially with food, is a trend that will never die, and that is the best trend we can hope will continue to grow.

The under-$25 wine review

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2012, South Australia, $17.99, NSLC

In the vein of unique and fun white grapes I would like to see trend upward, Viognier is near the top. It has unique characteristics that stem from its roots in the Rhone Valley of France. This Australian version has the typical varietal characteristics of floral notes and a rich, lush character that hits your palate right away. That character continues through the finish and the note of alcohol is apparent. This wine demands attention. A tasty winter white. Pair with a curry dish of chicken and rice. 89/100

La Bascula, Turret Fields Monastrell and Syrah 2011, Spain, NSLC, $16.99

Here is a delicious blend in the Spanish section, where most of us don’t spend enough time looking for great values. Plummy notes and ripe Bing cherries are complemented with a touch of Anise. Lovely richness but still feels balanced. A young wine with a depth that usually comes from age. Try with beef short ribs from the slow cooker. 91/100

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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