//Nova Scotia’s Secret Star Wine Power with Benjamin Bridge’s Jean Benoit Deslauriers

Nova Scotia’s Secret Star Wine Power with Benjamin Bridge’s Jean Benoit Deslauriers


Where can you find one of the Canadian wine industry’s best-kept secrets? How does the dynamic Bay of Fundy impact the flavours you taste in wines from the Gaspereau Valley? Which Benjamin Bridge wine will you find on Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant wine list? Why do regional pairings of food and wine work?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Jean Benoit Deslauriers, Head Winemaker at Benjamin Bridge.

You can find the wines we discussed here.



  • Where can you find one of the Canadian wine industry’s best-kept secrets?
  • How does the climatic dynamic of the Bay of Fundy impact the flavours you’ll taste in wines from the Gaspereau Valley?
  • Which Benjamin Bridge wine would you find on Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant wine list?
  • What creates the bubbly effect you experience with sparkling wines?
  • Is there a specific role that you’ll see sommeliers play in the wine world?
  • Which process is responsible for the consistent, signature style you expect from Champagne?
  • Can you tap into some of Benjamin Bridge’s oldest wines in an affordable way?
  • What flavour profile can you expect from Benjamin Bridge Non Vintage Brut?
  • Why should you aim for regional connections when pairing food and wine?
  • Why is Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 a great choice for you to match with foods that are difficult to pair with wine?
  • What makes the Benjamin Bridge Riesling a great example of their signature foundation of freshness?
  • How do Nova Scotia wines achieve both the richness and freshness you taste in their wines?
  • Why should you think of Nova Scotia as “the little wine region that could”?
  • What makes Tidal Bay an appellation wine?
  • What sort of profile should you expect from Benjamin Bridge Brut?
  • Why should you join the BB Club?
  • Which wine motivated Jean-Benoit to break his piggy bank as a fifth grader?
  • When did Jean-Benoit realize he wanted to have a career in wine?


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About Jean Benoit Deslauriers

In 2008, Jean-Benoit joined the Benjamin Bridge winemaking team in time to release his first Canadian wine, Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge. Since then he has crafted all of the winery’s classic method sparkling wines and its still wines, in consultation with Peter Gamble (the winery’s lead consultant) and the late Raphaël Brisbois (its sparkling wine specialist and former chef de cave of Piper-Heidseick).

Originally from Québec, Jean-Benoit began his winemaking apprenticeship at VOE (Vinedos Organicos Emiliana), a biodynamic vineyard/winery in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, which was created by one of Chile’s largest producers, Vina Santa Emilina, to produce exceptional wines.

Having mostly worked in California, he made wine at Casa Barranca (2004-2008), the first certified organic winery in Santa Barbara County. In California, his winemaking efforts garnered accolades and standout reviews from Robert Parker and Steven Tanzer (90+). Since 2008, Jean-Benoit’s winemaking has elevated Benjamin Bridge’s wine programs to new heights with consistent 90-95+ scores and unanimous high praise from the nation’s leading wine critics along with growing international recognition.

About Benjamin Bridge

In little more than a decade, Benjamin Bridge has distinguished itself by its dedication to time-proven techniques, expert guidance, and most importantly its acclaimed, distinctive wines.

The Benjamin Bridge vineyards are located in the heart of the Gaspereau Valley on the Bay of Fundy, where the cool climate bears an uncanny affinity with the Champagne region of France. Our experienced winemakers work in collaboration with international experts to produce world-class Méthode Classique sparkling wines and limited edition luxury wines.

Their innovative sparkling wines display the hallmarks of classic prestige cuvées from Champagne, but with a Nova Scotia signature. “They are, without question, the best sparkling wines I have tasted in Canada,” says Tony Aspler, Canada’s most renowned wine authority. Their collection of handcrafted fine wines, including perennial sell-out Nova 7, together with our sparkling wine program, have helped raise the profile of Nova Scotia terroir and its winemaking in Canada and internationally.




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Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 102!

Where is Canada’s best-kept wine secret? How do the highest tides in the world affect the vineyards around them? How did a small Nova Scotia wine get listed on the wine list of the prestigious UK restaurant, Gordon Ramsey? What is one of the best wines to pair with Thai and Indian food, and why?

That’s exactly what you’ll discover in this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m chatting with Jean Benoit Deslauriers, Head Winemaker at Benjamin Bridge.

You can find links to the wines we tasted, the video version of this chat, where you can find me on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm, and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class — that’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/102.

Now on a personal note before we dive into the show…

My ex-husband used to say that salad is what food eats…

That’s not the main reason we’re divorced 😉

But I must say, the delicious range of flavours in modern vegetarian recipes is amazing.

That’s why my first online tasting with the LCBO was sooooo popular!

I teamed up with the food and content editors of Food & Drink magazine to pair wines with some savoury, mouth-watering dishes.

My favourite?

Baked Mushroom Parmesan…. yum!

You can watch the video replay of the tasting, plus get the list of wines and recipes. I’ll include a link to all of that in the show notes.

Okay, on with the show!


You can also watch the video interview with Jean-Benoit that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.


Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my chat with Jean Benoit Deslauriers. Here are my take-aways:

  1. I loved Jean Benoit’s story about being fascinated with wine and wine labels as a child. The force was with him very early.
  2. I’m fascinated with the Bay of Fundy, with the highest tides in the world that rise and fall 17 metres or 55 feet, funneling 160 billion tons of seawater in and out of the bay twice a day. This has a profound effect on the surrounding vineyards, and warming and cooling air streams that flow up through the vines, much like the lake does in Niagara.
  3. I agree with Jean Benoit that Nova 7 is an incredible match with both Thais and Indian food, it has the flavour intensity and the touch of sweetness to handle the flavour and heat of those dishes.

You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Melanie Young and David Ransom on their podcast, The Connected Table. The couple interviews those around the world whose work has helped shape the food and beverage industry, such as chefs, artisan producers, vintners, master distillers, authors, farmers, food/beverage industry thought leaders, and in this case, yours truly.

In the meantime, if you missed my chat with Vikram Vij & Sean Nelson, episode 72, go back and take a listen. We take an even deeper dive into pairing wine and spicy dishes from Vij’s Restaurant. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wine tips that Jean Benoit shared.

You can find links to the wines we tasted in the show notes, the video version of this chat, where you can find me on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm, that recent tasting of wines paired with vegetarian dishes, and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class — that’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/102.

Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a Nova Scotia wine!



Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 0:00
Bay of Fundy that is the point industry’s best kept secret as well

Natalie MacLean 0:03
as those Connect. So you’ve got high tides, you’ve got more water flowing. But how is that directly impacting on the vines and the grapes.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 0:11
It’s funny that you use the word Connect because we are in two valleys, they actually connect to the Bay of Fundy. As the water goes up and down below 17 metres a day. It acts as an air pump. And it pushes the air through those valleys, so it transforms those valleys into corridors or channels of moderation, this unbelievable moderating effect coming from that constant influx of hair. It translates into a ripening context that is absolutely unique, because our grapes can write them in a way that will protect the acidity and unspoiled fashion and also ensure that the sugar content doesn’t creep up too fast.

Natalie MacLean 1:00
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? That’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 102. There is Canada’s Best Kept wine secret. How did the highest tides in the world affect the vineyards around them? How did a small Nova Scotia wine get listed on the wine list of a prestigious UK restaurant? Gordon Ramsay’s to be precise. And what is one of the best wines to pair with Thai and Indian food and why and that’s exactly what you’ll discover in this episode of The unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m chatting with Zhong Anwar delorey a head winemaker at Benjamin bridge winery in Nova Scotia. You’ll find links to the wines we tasted the video version of this chat, or you can find me on Facebook Live every second Wednesday at 7pm and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 102. Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show, my ex husband used to say that salad is what food eats. That’s not the main reason we’re divorced. But I must say the delicious range of flavours in modern vegetarian recipes is amazing. That’s why I think my first online tasting with the lcbo was so popular. I teamed up with the food and content editors of food and drink magazine to pair wines with some savoury mouthwatering dishes. My favourite, they ate mushroom Parmesan. Yum, My mouth is watering even as I think about it. You can watch the video replay of this tasting plus get the list of wines and recipes. I’ll include a link to all of that in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 102. Okay, on with the show.

We’re going to talk to the winemaker from a small Nova Scotia winery whose wine just got listed on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant lists in the UK that three star Michelin restaurant and that is Gordon Ramsay, he of master chef and Hell’s Kitchen. Jonathan wha deloria is going to tell us how that happened. And share some other stories and some deeper insights into what’s happening with Nova Scotia wines. I better bring in my guests. It’s Sean than la deloria. And he’s joining me from the winery. Nova Scotia. Hi, Jonathan. Wha. Hi,

Unknown Speaker 4:19

Natalie MacLean 4:19
So good to have you here. Now you have made wine in top notch wineries around the world, including Chile, in California. And since 2008. Now, Benjamin bridge, you’re making wines that consistently get scores of 90 to 95. I mean, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind and now the Gordon Ramsay announcement. Tell me what I’ve left out of your bio, maybe share a little bit about your personal life.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 4:43
Well, I was born and raised in Quebec. For some reasons I can’t quite explain. I was always passionate about wine ever since I was a little boy. I remember there was an anecdote that I was reminded of by an old babysitter, unfortunately passed away about a year and a half ago and she reminded us That, when I was I think in fifth grade, I broke my piggy bank. And my favourite thing to do at the time was to go at the SA q weather wine store and look at the wine labels. And so, one day I broke my piggy bank and dragged her by the hand and insisted that we go to the SA q so that you would buy my parents a bottle of corporate tea from Marcel de gallo. And I don’t know how old I would have been with me. But

Natalie MacLean 5:26
you know, the Cobra tea in fifth

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 5:27
grade, like I was kind of that fascinating label that had the drawing, I guess, the Rhone Valley on it. That’s antique fields that I thought was really compelling. And yeah, so for some reason, wine was always an object of fascination for me. I can’t quite explain why that is. I don’t have a disciplinary formation for it all. But yeah, ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been fascinated by wine. So

Natalie MacLean 5:53
you were destined to make wine, JV? We’ll get into that. So chapter one, can you remember the exact moment when you do that you wanted to make wine if it wasn’t in grade five, breaking out the piggy bank? When was it

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 6:09
that probably would have been in my early 20s. So I was working as a wind advisor for the NDS aq, like a product specialist. And that’s probably when I knew that there was a career that I wanted to pursue. So what I did is, I actually went back to school and studied chemistry, so that I would have an opportunity to, you know, like, perhaps pursue a degree in analogy. And so what I did after that is I moved to California, and started working at cc Ws in Santa Maria for a small winery down there, and that’s how kind of it all began. So that would have been in 2004. Then I moved to California from Quebec, you know, with the sole intention of you know, like starting a career in the wine business as a, I was convinced that that’s what I wanted to do.

Natalie MacLean 7:00
Wow. Okay. So you’re in the gaspereau Valley now, and we know that has great soils in a nice cool climate and you’re right on the Bay of Fundy tell us something we don’t know about that particular region that would surprise us?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 7:16
Well, I think it’s definitely known right that the Bay of Fundy has very high and strong tides actually the highest and strongest tides on the face of the earth,

Natalie MacLean 7:25
How high are they do you know,

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 7:27
so the water would fluctuate about 17 metres a day, he metres and there’s more fresh water going through the Bay of Fundy on a daily basis than all the fresh water rivers of the world combined. So like that is actually in salt water. Okay, but they are funded. And so it is definitely a force to be reckoned with and absolutely unique entity in the natural world. And I think that not everyone has realised maybe like up until maybe some of the Nova Scotia wines I’ve started shedding a light on this is that there is a growing environment surrounding the Bay of Fundy that is equally as unique as the bay is in the natural world. So there’s a very linear logic there. And that probably is one of Canada’s best kept secret and believed like one of the wine industry’s best kept secret as well,

Natalie MacLean 8:23
those connects so you’ve got high tides, you’ve got more water flowing. But how is that directly impacting on the vines and the grapes?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 8:31
Yeah, well, it’s funny that you use the word Connect because we are in a little valley called the gaspereau Valley, which is a sub Valley within the Annapolis Valley. And those two valleys, they actually connect to the Bay of Fundy they go straight into the bay at the very end in the minus basin and the Annapolis Valley goes straight into the Bay of Fundy at the very beginning, they can depict the area as well. And so what that does is that it creates a dynamic that goes like this as the water goes up and down 17 metres a day, it acts as an air pump. And it pushes the air through those valleys that go straight into the bay right. And so it transforms those valleys into corridors are channels of moderation. And ultimately we happen to this unbelievable moderating effect, you know, coming from that constant influx of hair, and it translates into a ripening context that is absolutely unique, because our grapes can write them in a way that will protect the acidity and unspoiled fashion and also ensure that you know the sugar content doesn’t creep up too fast so that it gives us an opportunity to stretch the growing season in the later stages and then pitch at no sugar content, but with a level of phonetic maturity so much grape skins the exact flavour compounds. Yeah, yeah, and I can give you an example. So for example in Sonoma County, For traditional method sparkling, and they make beautiful wines, they’re

Natalie MacLean 10:03
California just north of Napa.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 10:05
Yes, you know, the last like three vintages have been, you know, quite warm. And so oftentimes they will be forced to pitch for traditional method sparkling, which requires low sugar contents, because there’s a secondary fermentation down the road that will add about a degree and a half of alcohol. So the rates have to be modest and sugar content. So because of the warm climate, like they are fours, you know, like the pics often like the third week of July, because their sugar content and fruits will increase in a way that is proportional to the heat units. And they will respond to the you know, the units, the temperature, and the overall kind of solar context in a way that is yet very, very linear. So because of that incredible moderating effect, and that unbelievable climatic dynamic that we have as a result of the proximity of the bay, we can pick up the same parameters as the third week of July in California. first week of November.

Natalie MacLean 11:04
Oh, wow. So is this at all the same as Niagara is lake effect? Or is it a bit different?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 11:09
It is it’s the same, they call it the hot water bottle or something but you’re talking about like an air pump setting through corridors of power. And so a dynamic of moderation usually will shave off the extremes on both sides, that hot bottle would apply in the winter months, right where that large body of water is going to moderate the temperature so it doesn’t get too cold for some sensitive like European varieties, for example, yeah, but then in the summer month, the moderation effect will actually cool the temperatures right. So everything will be brought to like a median reality everything will be brought back to the middle and it is similar in Nova Scotia in the sense that it is also a dynamic of moderation that shaves off the extreme. But it is not more dramatic, because, for example, our winters would actually be proportionally warmer, and our summers would be proportionally cooler. So it is just a little bit more extreme in terms of you know, like the moderating impact.

Natalie MacLean 12:11
Wow. Okay, so, Jonathan, why tell us first of all, which wine got listed on Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant list? And then how did that happen?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 12:21
So the wine that was listed at Gordon Ramsay reserve 2008. That is a our flagship line within our sparkling programme. So I have a model here you have

Unknown Speaker 12:33
that one, you have the 2008 view?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 12:35
That’s a 2010.

Natalie MacLean 12:36
Oh, I’ve got the 2011.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 12:39

Unknown Speaker 12:39
What were you saying I might be one of the first human beings to try this.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 12:44
That was sports only recently. And so

Natalie MacLean 12:46
let’s tell what discourse means just for the folks who might not know what discourse means when it comes to sparkling

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 12:50
wines. Yeah, so a sparkling wine and we will go back to Gordon Ramsay, like right after, that’s what this person won. So the effervescence of bubbles, the co2 comes from a secondary fermentation that happens inside the bottle. That’s where the ship is. So a fermentation is the transformation of sugars into alcohol and co2 as a byproduct. So for example, during harvests when we ferment here at the winery, like in open fats, the sugars are transformed into alcohol, but the co2 escapes through the top of the tanks and goes into the environments for still lights, yes, sir wines. But if that fermentation was to happen in a sealed bottle, so a closed environment, ultimately, there would be no way for that co2 to escape the bubble stand there, they stay in. And ultimately what happens is they are integrated in solution. And they are part of the product. And that’s the effervescence that we see. But also what a fermentation does is it creates a lot of solids, a lot of sediments, and a lot of cloudiness and turbidity, and the wines and so what we have to do in order to present a sparkling wine that is clear, is we have to separate those solids from the clear wine. So when we decide that the wine is aged on its sleeve, so all those solids that are created by the fermentation for enough time, so in our case, that can mean a lot of time because we have some wines here at Benjamin bridge from the 2002 vintage that are still ageing on the leaves after 15 years. That is one of the traits of our sparkling programme is that we have a tendency to age our wines for quite some times. And it’s also I think, a testament of like our willingness to, you know, come up with something, actually, that’s quite unique. And also that illustrates those wines potential for longevity.

Unknown Speaker 14:39
You must be all into delayed gratification. There is a

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 14:43
weight the age quite well and we can talk about this later. But one of the fundamental traits are a signature of you know, like our wines and our wine region is fire and heat this eternal use, but that’s a

Unknown Speaker 14:57
good tagline. It really is.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 14:59
Wow, well To release the line of beauty products that are going to be quite revolutionary,

Natalie MacLean 15:04
such a killer, you know, you could though with the great promise and everything anyway

Unknown Speaker 15:09
to get ready

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 15:11
real quick. So what we do when we decide that the wines have aged for long enough is we put them upside downs and racks, okay further. And although sediments are ultimately going to go down the very end of the bottle, they’re going to be collected in the neck just by gravity. And so we opened the bottle upside down. Yeah, this up real quick. So that injects all the solid and leaving behind only the clear wine. Nice, clear, muddy. Yeah, it’s at that point that we apply the champion motion for the foil. And that is called this gorgeous just gorging.

Natalie MacLean 15:42
All right. Thank you. Back to the celebrity news. Yes. Does that happen?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 15:49
Well, we’ve been in the London market for about a year and a half. And we’re working with an agency there by the name of friar wood, Canadian, Ben and his. His French partner, Eduardo, have been doing amazing work for us. And we’ve done a couple of events, the Canada White House alongside other Canadian wineries. We’ve been featured in the counter magazine,

Natalie MacLean 16:13
you’ve got some great scores into cancer. That’s Britain’s sort of Wine Spectator magazine.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 16:17
Yeah. So ultimately, all those seeds that were planted, there was an event as well a blank piece thing at 67 Pall Mall where our wines were tasted alongside some legendary champagne. And that was the topic of a story like in the drink business. And so there were a street magazine

Natalie MacLean 16:35
and lots of Somalis. Were there, right at this sort of blind taste Off with you and benchmark champagnes

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 16:41
correct. And so ultimately, what happens is all those things, they all plant the seed and they create a situation where you know, like the name like Benjamin bridge, and traditional method parkings from Nova Scotia. So it’s people start, like hearing more and more about those sparkling wines made alongside the Bay of Fundy those those Canadian sparklings from the east coast. And so little by little, we have a presence right in the unconscious of wine, the wine community. And I think that that was the context that led to the connection between the some of the at Gordon Ramsay James Lloyd and our agency. And, wow, yes. Because, yeah, like it was, you know, maybe as a result of all those little things that maybe were done to set the state.

Natalie MacLean 17:25
Yeah, at this restaurant, folks, if you had not had the pleasure I have, fortunately, a meal can easily cost over $1,000. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Three, Michelin, of course, is the top rating you can get from the Michelin Guide for restaurants. And here is Benjamin bridge, sparkling wine on the list. How did you find out like, do you remember where and how you found out the news?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 17:47
Well, we’ve known for quite some time. But I don’t think that we appreciated the reach and the magnitude of the story, because we’ve known for two months. And it was really a casual post on social media. When I believe we were provided with a photo of the wine list.

Natalie MacLean 18:04
Someone just took a picture while they were there.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 18:06
And so that was like, Oh, yeah, that’s true. They were there. Like, that’s neat. We’ll post that on social media like and then we were quite Yeah, quite casually, unsuspecting of like, any potential reaction really like beyond what we get for, you know, like normal post on social media. And it really snowballed into been to a national news story. And throughout that process, we realised that the extended beyond just around the line and that’s what made it so powerful because I think that you know, Gordon Ramsay has definitely a name and the reputation and pop culture and it goes, it goes beyond just the, what we call the internally like kind of the wine geeks right then right with which we all are most definitely. But I think that that was a story that had like a reach that was a little bit more

Natalie MacLean 18:58
extreme culture. Yeah. People know about Hell’s Kitchen and how hard he is. He’s kicked people out of his restaurant for not wearing the right thing and all sorts of things. But he just has this sort of indelible mark on food culture. Have you been to his restaurant Are you going to go now?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 19:17
Well, I’ve been quickly for a visit, like I haven’t sat down for a full meal, I think Benjamin bridge will have to grow into a wine Consortium.

Natalie MacLean 19:27
To for that for you to have an expense tab with that on on.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 19:33
And I haven’t met him personally. And coincidentally, last Monday and Tuesday, I was in Vancouver for the Canadian some of the championship were elected the Canadian representative, the Canadian, some of you competing at the international level and representing his country. And it was that competition was a celebration of the trade as well and really shed a light on the importance of December gay like in the restaurant called And so they have a very defined role which is to curate, maintain, and upgrade the wine list and so, as much as of course you know we would love to meet Gordon Ramsay in person but most wine additions will happen through the professional that is in place especially in highly organised establishment such as a Michelin three star star, there are very defined roles and that would be the role of the some of the, the select the wines. If maybe we were a lobster fisherman, maybe we would present our lobsters to Gordon.

Natalie MacLean 20:33
You never know they may be next, maybe you can do some sort of combo deal. But to me, it’s like as a violinist being asked to play at Carnegie Hall. I mean, it’s just like, bring your wine to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant. Pretty amazing.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 20:47
There’s no question that it’s great for the Nova Scotia wine industry. And it’s a good news story, especially from a visibility standpoint, to tell our story and kind of showcase the things that we do best not just across adventuring bridge, but everyone here pushing the boundaries for traditional method sparkling

Natalie MacLean 21:05
and as they say the rising tide lifts all the boats, which is quite apt for fishermen, lobster in Nova Scotia

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 21:12
is in the other day of funding. That’s right. Yeah, the metres a day like we really during the day, we were listed on board and I think it went up 19 metres. Gosh, Okay,

Natalie MacLean 21:24
now let’s taste, you’ve sent me a number of wines. Is there one you’d like to start with that you have with you?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 21:31
I think we should start with the nonvintage. You

Natalie MacLean 21:34
were saying that this is really appealing to you now. All your wine children, you’re really loving this one. This is why

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 21:43
there’s so many reasons. But first, if you look at you know, like traditional methods first thing as a category, it’s fair to say that, you know, like the standard, especially from an historical standpoint, and also qualitative is champagne. And in champagne, about 85% of the global offering is are non vintage wines.

Natalie MacLean 22:03
That’s right tend to be the signature of the house, right? The non vintage. Absolutely. So

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 22:07
for us like we were founded Benjamin bridge as a sparkling wine house. nonvintage wines were always on the radar, right? They were always on our mind. But how they’re able, for example, in champagne, other able to maintain stylistic consensus, consistency and create that house style is they offset the variation, how they do it is they offset the variations between the vintages by blending? Many years, yes, having enough lending flexibility on the account of a strong inventory of reserve wines that the Add to always come up with a blend that is stylistically within the territory of the balance, right, the signature.

Natalie MacLean 22:50
And so how many vintages are in this non vintage wine?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 22:53
That’s a great question. That’s where I was going. So before we were in a position to have a true non vintage programme, we needed to accumulate that library, that inventory of reserve lines to be able to make a proper non vintage wine that would have that signature. So we only released the non vintage going on two years now. But it was a little bit like a soft lunch, where we were kind of testing it out. And now as of this year, it is officially like a very important fundamental product within our sparkling offspring. And it’s an incredible wine, because it has reserved wines in a perpetual reserve system going all the way back to 2002. And so there’s basically 15 years of winemaking history like in those bottles. And I don’t know if you pick up on that smokiness Can I get otter lytic does that mean yeasty

Unknown Speaker 23:45
ready, like our scrape bread,

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 23:48
which again, is a byproduct of you know, the time that was invested in ageing,

Natalie MacLean 23:53
sits on its leaves or the East De Santis still, so you get that creamy, rich, this toastiness. It’s so beautiful.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 24:00
And so it’s those reserve lines coming in and providing that additional complexity. And for that reason, it’s a wine that’s unlike any other, you know, vintage wines from Benjamin bridge. And the price of the Nv will vary probably between 28 and $30, which is also significantly less than our other traditional method sparkling and so there lies also another fascinating proposition because for less, you can actually tap into some of our oldest wines and get all that smoky toast, the profile and all that complexity that can only come from those reserve lines that image for a while. So it’s altogether probably kind of our Yeah, one of our most like fascinating products. And you just answered these questions she was asking about the price of it. So that’s excellent. We think that that non vintage wine is primed in position to ultimately become somewhat the face of traditional method sparkling there was an investment that was made by by Benjamin rich by the family then they called Warren’s in holding on to an inventory of reserve wines and older vintages. And because that investment was made over the years, for the last 15 years now we’re in a position where we have the potential to make a significant amount of nonvintage. And so that really is a product to that is positioned to support you know, like a demand that would be substantial. So I think that ultimately, it’s positioned to be the face of mobile social Sparkman that’s great.

Unknown Speaker 25:35
What would you pair with this JV?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 25:37
So I think that most perfect hearing Enix pairings, if there’s a regional connection, it makes it all the more powerful, because those wines are highly impacted by you know, the Bay of Fundy. And it just so happens that there are lobsters actually in the Bay of Fundy No. boxes and scallops, I would say, particularly lobsters. To me, like that makes it the most organic natural pairing that you could think of, and you’ll see that right, like, you know, in the Loire Valley with, you know, some of the local cheeses right then. Yeah. And there needs to be that regional connection. And that’s a very powerful regional connection, I think. So our owner here are one of the owners the Jerry McConnell. So Jerry started the project started Benjamin bridge in 1999, with his late wife, Sarah, and he has a proprietary recipe for cooking lobster. Yeah. And so he harvests seaweed, right and sea vegetables that he’ll put like, in the actual salt water, and then boil the lobster in, in the seawater in the seaweed. Voila. Yeah, with the scenery with the Dolce and you know, the other sea vegetables that he harvests are the forages

Natalie MacLean 26:55
just to give it a more briny taste to the lobster flat?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 26:57
Oh, yeah, it’s unlike anything else. It’s so good. And they came for a lobster boil. And Jerry was working the burner. And yeah, he worked his magic. If you have a chance to come to Benjamin bridge, you can ask for a lobster made by Jerry himself.

Natalie MacLean 27:14
And see if I can get the recipe.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 27:16
We’ll see if we can accommodate those requests. Okay,

Natalie MacLean 27:20
you’re gonna have a lineup.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 27:22
Trouble right now. I’m

Natalie MacLean 27:23
sure everybody’s going to be clamouring after that, and the recipe. So conversely, what’s the actual weirdest pairing you’ve ever had, it could be with one of your wines, or just another wine with something that was just really weird.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 27:39
Well, if we go to this guy here, which, again, is Nova seven, and Java seven, that’s a pivotal products. For us. It was a bit of a renaissance wine within the Nova Scotia wine scene and wine industry. And there’s something absolutely unique about Nova seven, that is a combination of our medic intensity, a little bit of residual sugar and a tremendous amount of freshness. And it’s an illustration of like the power of, you know, that stamp that we have here, like alongside the Bay of Fundy because it is so powerful. And so presence that it completely changes the style. Whatever is electric, you know, bright, energetic about mobile seven completely changes the dynamic because usually mosquito style wines are going to that much sugar centric. And then in the case of Noah seven, everything is centred around the freshness and the drinkability of the wine because it’s super bright and crisp. But the aromatic intensity makes it a great pairing with things that are actually really difficult to pair like Indian food lifestyle, right? They have, like on a scale of aromatics, like the spices and whatnot, I can get pretty high right on that scale. You know, like same with, like the richness and so, I would say something a bit eccentric is like oftentimes people are like, Oh, you know, like, I really like spicy food. so spicy that when I cook it, the neighbour upstairs, you know, like his eyes are crying. What can we use? Like do something you know that I can bear with that. And oftentimes, we have no like just what they need in the form of the note seven because it has the aromatics to match. And so if you’re ever clicking something that would be overpowering, or maybe overwhelming to maybe some more neutral lines, like the number seven certainly has the ability to expand. That’s great.

Natalie MacLean 29:30
Nova seven is generally available across Canada, isn’t it like in just about every province?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 29:38
Yes, every province and territories. Ah, okay. That’s not to say that if you go to the store, you know, like, corner that Nova seven will be there. Sure. In every province, you know, with a little bit of research, you can find out where it can be found and then go from there.

Unknown Speaker 29:58
And you guys have a direction Mail club for across Canada, right?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 30:02
I would say asking us like sending us an email at was it Benjamin bridge? y at Benjamin bridge calm winds with an S aligns with an S.

Natalie MacLean 30:14
Okay. So because there are a number of people in your wine club already, but I’m sure people love to just get it directly without having to hunt.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 30:21
Yeah. So wines with an S at Benjamin bridge calm is the best way to inquire on where the wines would be available. And maybe we might be able to send directly to you as well, with lobsters with lobsters and a side package of sea vegetables. Yeah,

Natalie MacLean 30:39
yeah. All those meal prep companies that are fashionable. Okay, so what should we taste next?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 30:46
I think that we should probably. So you have a rosae, though, right?

Natalie MacLean 30:51
I don’t have the rosae. But I have two more sparkling I have your recently entitled day.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 30:57
So okay. Let’s try to read them. Okay. All right. Tell

Natalie MacLean 31:01
me about the recently.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 31:03
So I think if like I was maybe like summarise what’s most fascinating about like wine in general, it would probably be that ideal that a wine as a fundamental ability to tell the story of a very specific growing environment. And knowing kind of how unique ours is, there has to be a common denominator stamp, you know, that will be a common thread between all of our products. And that is a foundation of freshness. And I think the reasoning is also a great example of that. So in 2015, what you have is for reasoning that has all those vital traits right on the nose. So the petroleum, the white flowers, you know, a little bit of topicality. And then on the pallets, kind of our specialty, which is that foundation of freshman’s though, you know, something kind of bright, very energetic, but combined with a tremendous amount of richness as well, and some substance and some structure. And that’s really the key. And that’s also, you know, the combination that is at the base, or the core of all of our traditional method sparkling. And I can explain a little bit how we can do that. As we were talking a little bit earlier about genetic maturity. What it does is it allows like when you can pick later in the season, after sugar content that is still moderate and an acidity level that is still you know, quite high almost unspoiled what happens is there’s a fundamental difference between like those later harvest dates, you know, those parameters and the early harvest dates that those parameters because, let’s say in August, even if the sugar contents already high, the fruit is still a little bit green, because there are no substitute for time when it comes to the ripening of all the components of the berries, so the skins, the stems, the seeds, and we can pick with unspoiled acidity later in the season, but the stems are brown and dry and crunchy, and so are the seeds. And so it is the gateway to combining freshness and richness. Because in a warmer climate, the two are going to tend to go away from each other because as the ripening progresses, the sugar content goes up, but then she acidity personally go down so they are away from each other while in our growing environments. Because it is moderated by the unique dynamics of the Bay of Fundy, like the two have an ability to go hand in hand. And so we can actually, instead of like proposing the stereotypical crossroad between freshness and richness that fork in the road, we can actually merge the two. Okay. And that’s the reason is a great example of that saw our traditional methods.

Natalie MacLean 33:51
Now, are you saying stems that dry out and seeds? Is that happening to yours or not? Oh, yes, very much shall be drying out in is that adding the richness that you’re talking about?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 34:01
Yes, because the acidity does not come like at the expense of maturity, we can have like an acidity that is still unspoiled but with a level of maturity and the richness that is also very desolate and very mature. So the two go hand in hand and can be merged as opposed to a warmer climates where as the ripeness progresses, the acidity plummets and so to get one or the other direct

Natalie MacLean 34:27
trade off,

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 34:28
yeah, freshness and richness, they go away from each other. And so ultimately, that will force like a choice often between one or the other. And that choice does exist you know, for consumers. And I believe that even the the liquor jurisdictions like have like, little kind of sensory guides right to help people decide what wine they’ll pick, and they’ll provide some information this is fresh and crisper, this is Rich and troll. That is the stereotype like usually there is somewhat of a choice between one or the other. The beauty of the growing environment in Nova Scotia is that we actually have the power to combine those two sensory categories together. And that’s exactly what our sparklings do. because on one hand, they will always be built on that foundation of freshness. So there were always electric and vibrant press, but then they’re also full, and they have lots of substance and structure. And so it’s what great. There are some examples of that. In Europe, like I think maybe chagny can be a great example of combining freshness and richness at a high level champagnes. They also do that quite often. Yeah. All right.

Natalie MacLean 35:40
I still want to ask you more questions, but I want to also taste the wines that I have in front of me. Oh, and these said, how would you characterise this dry, medium, dry?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 35:51
dry very much. And it’s not because there is no residual sugar. There is a little bit of residual sugar. But at the same time, from a sensory standpoint, that sugar does not show because the acidity is such that it does not show us perceptible sweetness. Yeah. Now it’s very fresh, very dry. Yeah. And also from a sensory standpoint, then on paper, but

Natalie MacLean 36:14
Rochelle, Nova Scotia girl as well living here in Ottawa. Hi, john denwa. With all your great talent and knowledge, where do you see the future for wineries in Nova Scotia? It’s certainly an exciting time. So yeah. Talk to us about where Nova Scotia is heading. We know there’s more wineries qualities going up all the usual press release stuff. But what is something we don’t know about? What’s happening with Nova Scotia wines, wineries?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 36:40
That is a great question. And oftentimes we get asked that question and as to like maybe do a little bit of a forecast on where the industry is going? Yeah, there are like two blueprints. And two examples of Canadian wine regions that not that long ago, were pretty small, you know, both in size and stature. And that was kind of the VC industry, they can be opened up in the area, and then the Ontario industry and the Niagara area. And so, is it possible to speculate, you know, that, you know, we will experience like a growth curve, you know, that will take us into that territory, right, that critical mass of wineries? Probably not, I doubt that we will see, you know, like 300 wineries, for example, I can no exposure. Right now we’re at about 15, which is very small in comparison. But you said something, I believe in your intro like the little winery that could well how about the little industry that could because oftentimes now like we are going to be featured, right, like in national events, like almost on par with those two regions, because there is something about Nova Scotia wine that is absolutely unique, there’s a sense of unity. And then there is a focus that is very, very different, perhaps from the very diverse offering right now like the very diverse, like stylistic explorations happening in both Niagara and BC in the Okanagan, we have that sense of alignment, where our terroir ordering environment is not a jack of all trade, growing environment, we could not do everything at a high level think in France, champagne or alzette. And a lot of wine regions have align their efforts, you know, like behind styles that are fundamentally compatible with a specialty or highly specialised growing and wet environment that they have. And there is a similar dynamic at play in Nova Scotia, which creates a situation where in terms of size, we are likely to remain rather modest. in coming years, we’re going to remain rather modest compared to Niagara or the Okanagan in terms of critical mass. But in terms of recognition for a specific product, I would say the sky is the limit. And our ceiling is you know, as high as any other emerging, you know, excellent emerging or very promising emerging regions into the world at large. Because there is that sense of alignment and a great example, you know, to maybe like segue into a tasting here is title bait. Yes, I thought that’s where you’re going. All right, the blue which is an Appalachian wire. What do you mean by that Appalachian

Natalie MacLean 39:22
one in this sense for title bake assistance unique?

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 39:26
It is unique and four out of the 15 wineries in Nova Scotia 16 commercial wineries. 12 of them are making a title day that a full title date. And so a little bit like a European appellation, like Sancerre. There’s a geographic element right to the equation. So the grapes has to come from Nova Scotia. And then there are also some technical guidelines that must be respected. So the blends for title Bay must be made from specific varieties like so on and so forth. There’s an independent tasting panel that will try all the aspiring title based on Make sure that there is stylistic consistency. And so ultimately, the title Bay is always a white wine. Always fresh, it’s always bright. There’s always like an aromatic quality that is very distinctive. And so all title bays are going to have that common denominator. So if you buy a title Bay, although there will be variations from wineries, to wineries, just like you know, like if you were a Chevy and it goes from producer to producer, there can be some significant variations but it’s always tend to be within a range that is possible within the Appalachian right. And so our Appalachian and Nova Scotia that is closer to the European model than it would be from CQA for example, that would be an appellation Yes, but more like an all inclusive umbrella that can include different styles title bait, as a stylistic appellation, first and foremost. And Ours is a very bright press live Nam aromatics. Good acidity to exactly for shellfish, shellfish. jello.

Natalie MacLean 41:07
Absolutely all of it. Okay, I am cognizant of our time, which has just run away on us. But we’ve talked about the other two sparkling wines. Yeah, I also wanted to just mention this one, which looks like it’s been recently bottled, because we don’t have the fancy label here. But it’s the 2012 booth. Tell me a little bit about this one.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 41:26
So what we wanted to do is we wanted you to be the very first to review some wines, right. And these are upcoming sparkling releases. Yeah. So that you have the 11 reserves, you’ve got the 12 root. So the 12 is a blend of 60% Chardonnay, 40%, Pinot Noir. And again, that’s fascinating combination of freshness and richness, which is hard to describe, but there’s an energy there’s an electricity, there’s a brightness a liveliness to the wines, and at the same time, a tremendous amount of structure substance, you know, like power length, and it’s those two poles merged in a very classic offering. So

Natalie MacLean 42:07
it’s like the ocean coming in. So you’ve got the froth in the Ocean Spray the liveliness. And then you’ve got the dead calm of the ocean on a calm day. The depth, the richness.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 42:18
That’s right. I like the coastal analogy very fitting.

Natalie MacLean 42:22
Well. I’m a nova scotia girl, so I can’t help myself. Are you? Oh,

Unknown Speaker 42:26
I didn’t know that.

Natalie MacLean 42:27
I am. My parents are from Cape Breton. What else do we have to? He asked us he turned around the interview. I’ll just tell you briefly but my mom’s from the decades. Yeah, she’s the deck where Alexander Graham Bell made his home. And my dad’s from Malibu. He’s passed away. But all my cousins are down there and I grew up just outside of Halifax and lower sackful. So I went to Mount St. Vincent University. I have relatives have gone to Acadia Beautiful, beautiful University and area of course,

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 42:56
yeah, that’s great. There’s a fantastic restaurant in bedeck, just outside the deck now called the byte house.

Natalie MacLean 43:03
I think my mom was telling me that,

Unknown Speaker 43:05
yeah, about it. So I gotta get down there again. And so the family pilgrimage, yes.

Natalie MacLean 43:10
And we’ll stop in for lobster. I’m gonna bring all my cousins all 36 of them. Okay, so this is a gorgeous, bubbly, but you know, tasting them side by side, as I’ve had the rare privilege to do tonight, going from the non vintage which is got that heastie character now to this, lots of depths. And of course, to the 2011 Brut reserve, which has great long term ageing potential, it’s really interesting to see what you’re doing with your sparkling wines, really impressive as well, that really asked which of your white wines has less acidity, I would think all of your white wines pretty much have fairly good acidity. That is, in a way, much like, for example, if

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 43:51
you if you take France, right, like, as a very diverse country, you know, that can yield some radically different styles. Depending on where you’re located. We are specialising in the styles that are fundamentally compatible with the growing environment that we have. So all of our wines are can have that, that stamp of like electricity, you know that they’re all going to have like an element of acidity to them. And that’s what makes them kind of unique and connected to the growing environment that we’re trying to showcase. So they have a tendency to say yeah, like most of our wines kind of have that energy, that brightness. But if I had to choose the one wine, perhaps that maybe would be a little bit softer, like Nova seven telling because it does have all that that acidity, but also, you know, aromatics

Natalie MacLean 44:43
that soften the perception of the acidity. Yeah. Well, champagne, well, I could talk another hour if my voice didn’t give out. And so we’ve covered a lot of ground. But what Haven’t we covered? Is there anything we’ve left out that you’d like to mention as we sort of wrap things up here? Yeah,

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 44:59
well There was a BB club member that joined. And so that’s a very good reminder that for those that are curious about what we do, and what we do on the edge, right, more kind of at the research level, we have a club, where we basically use the membership, not necessarily as guinea pigs, but like masturbation wines, orange wines, like natural wines, pity on natural, all kinds of maybe like, more exploring, or exploratory efforts, right. They all go to a wine club for the VIP club. And so that’s the kind of a fascinating programme to stay current on, you know, what we’re working on. And you know, what we’re thinking and how we’re trying to, you know, kind of affect change. So that’s the fascinating programme to inquire on. And

Natalie MacLean 45:45
we’ll post some links so people know where to go to sign up for that club for the regular wine club and anything else and how we can reach Jerry and his seafood lobster recipe. We will hunt you down, Jerry.

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 46:00
And yeah, the the nonvintage, the envy, the Benjamin bridge envy, I guess would be making its way across Canada this year. So also, it is fabulous. It is a year a reintroduction of DMV, and most Canadian provinces nicely are also starting, like we started this year, like opening our doors a little bit more as well. So we had a reputation of being open by appointment only. And so it’s still possible to make an appointment. But as of this year, we started welcoming visitors like on a drop in basis. That’s right. And so don’t assume that it is impossible to come visit Benjamin bridge as of this year, it is actually a distinct possibility.

Natalie MacLean 46:43
Awesome. Well, Shannon, well, thank you so much for sharing with us all these terrific wines, your insights about Nova Scotia wines. We’ve learned a lot tonight about your vision but also Nova Scotia wines in general. So thank you, john, while I’m going to wrap it up with you now and I wish you good luck. I know you’ve just started harvesting grapes. So good luck with the harvest this year. Thank you,

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers 47:05
Natalie, for having me. Alright.

Unknown Speaker 47:07
Terrific. Thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker 47:08
Take care. Bye. Bye.

Natalie MacLean 47:16
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat was john Danwon deloria. Here are my takeaways. I love Jonathan was story about being fascinated with wine and wine labels as a child. A force was with him very early on, and fascinated with the Bay of Fundy especially having grown up in Nova Scotia myself. It has the highest tides in the world that rise and fall 17 metres or 55 feet, funnelling 100 and 60 billion tonnes of seawater in and out of the bay twice a day. This has a profound effect on the surrounding vineyards, warming and cooling air streams that flow up through the vines, much like the lake does in Niagara. And I agree with john Belvoir, that Nova seven is an incredible match for both Thai and Indian food. It has the flavour intensity and touch of sweetness that can handle the bold flavours and heat of those dishes. You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Melanie young and David ransom on their podcast, the connected table. The couple interviews those around the world whose work has helped to shape the food and beverage industry, such as chefs, artists and producers, vintners, distillers, authors, farmers, food and beverage industry thought leaders, and in this case, yours truly. In the meantime, if you miss my chat with Vikram Vich and Shawn Nelson on episode 68, go back and take a listen and we take an even deeper dive into pairing wine with spicy dishes from vigeous restaurant. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Unknown Speaker 49:02
Bone dry Rieslings can work really well in basic stuff like sparkling wine where you need to cut through that fattiness, the richness of fried foods or cream or anything heavy. And you have a wine that’s got a little bit of sweetness like this one does. You can play it off and things that have some chilli, have some extra spice have a little bit of each that needs taming. The best thing about this wine is that it’s not just about the sugar. It’s also about the acidity. It’s about how it balances itself. It walks this tightrope of sweetness and acidity that keeps it very, very fresh and very balanced. And a lot of people talk about the birds Demeter as a parent for spicy food. And while Kurt’s demeanour has one side of that tightrope, it has the sweetness it has the aromatics, it doesn’t always have enough acidity to play off of that sweetness. So I generally find Riesling to be a better pair for more spicy dishes, more complexity and freshness than Kurt’s demeanour or other aromatic whites. This week.

Natalie MacLean 50:05
If you like this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone who be interested in the wine tips that john Ben was shared. You can find links to the wines we tasted the video version of this chat, where you can find me on Facebook Live every second Wednesday at 7pm. That recent tasting of wines paired with vegetarian dishes, and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 102 Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a nova scotia wine.

You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash subscribe. We’ll be here next week. Cheers