It was a great year in Nova Scotia for wine, spirits, and beer. We saw the opening of an amazing wine store by the NSLC (The Port on Clyde Street). The selection, design, and layout of this store puts it amongst the top specialty wine stores in Canada. The number of products available at a wide range of prices has put Halifax near the top for great selection as compared to most of Canada. Next we had the explosive growth in the local beer industry, with the Craft Brewers Association website now indicating 34 members. We are also seeing many new craft distilleries opening as well. They’ll keep going strong in 2017.

As demand for local creations and interesting selections from around the globe grows, we’re seeing a proliferation of tasting events. Just look at the growing success of the Devour Festival in Wolfville, which continues to attract top chefs from around the world along with the interesting food films they showcase every fall.

These are heady times for those of us who love trying new products!

It was also a fun year writing for Halifax Magazine, as we continued to branch into a number of new and interesting topics, such as “Pairing films and wine” (January), “Wine for beer lovers” (April), and “Great value wine at any price” (November).

Our wine reviews had a record number of wines scoring 90+ points. The Saint Cosmé Cotes du Rhone from Bishop’s Cellar came in at 92 points, along with the Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from the NSLC. The Anciano Tempranillo Grand Reserva 2004 was our top wine of the year, scoring 93 points—an impressive value at $17.99.

Here’s what else was on our radar this year.

Rosé Wines. Sales of rosé in Nova Scotia have reached record numbers. Little wonder, as these wines are versatile, not just summer sippers. What better drink to remind us of summer when the snow flies? Rosé is the number-two selling wine in France after red, with the delicious rosés of Provence leading the way.

Sparkling Wine. Who doesn’t know that Nova Scotian producers make great sparkling wine? We had more local offerings than ever this year. And it’s hard to find a bad bottle in the bunch. All have the refreshing Nova Scotian acidity that makes them a perfect complement for oysters and other fresh seafood. And it’s not just Nova Scotian sparkling wine that continues to grow. Prosecco, the lovely and affordable sparkling wine of Northern Italy, is becoming a local favourite.

Quality versus Quantity. We are buying less but we are buying better. The quality of what we drink continues to grow, while we drink less. This is a good thing for both health and for enjoyment.

Packaging Innovation. To target the ever-more-lucrative Millennial market, vintners are placing more importance on both the packaging and stories behind the products. This generation wants authenticity, innovation, and products made with the environment in mind.

Social Media. If you want your product to succeed, you had better have it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Instagram makes and breaks new wines.

2017 is going to be an exciting year as the above trends continue, and Nova Scotia grows into a powerhouse for all things craft. So join me in toasting the end of the year with some Nova Scotian bubbly—cheers!

The under-$25 wine review

Painted Wolf, The Den,
Chenin Blanc 2015

South Africa, $14.99, NSLC

I’ve always had a fondness for Chenin Blanc, whether from its original home in the Loire Valley of France or from South Africa. A good one at this price is rare. Chenin tends to be flabby and oily but this one has lovely aromas of honey and apples. Rich and layered without being cloying. Ripe nectarine and pineapple, along with baking spice. A nice cold-weather white. Great value. Pair with fettuccine carbonara. 91/100

Garnacha de Fuego
Spain, $17.99, NSLC

There are couple of new listings for Garnacha from Spain at the NSLC. They’re great additions to our wine scene. This grape offers a nice contrast to the lighter Tempranillos we usually get. Dark-berry flavours, with soft tannins to balance and spicy notes throughout. Minerality balances the rich flavours. The finish is just more and more ripe berries. Another great value. Pair with roasted pork back ribs. 91/100