Born and raised in Quebec, winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers is soft-spoken, but don’t mistake his quiet manner for lack of passion for his craft.
In 2008, Deslauriers joined the winemaking team at Benjamin Bridge in Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau Valley and he’s been racking up accolades ever since. Europe’s prestigious The Drinks Business publication named the sold-out 2008 Méthode Classique Brut one of the world’s top 14 sparkling wines.
Why did you become a winemaker?
I’ve always been fascinated by wine and wine bottles, even as a little kid. I remember buying my parents a bottle of wine when I was in elementary school, with the help of the babysitter.
How do you approach winemaking?
Traditional-method sparkling and aromatic whites are about 98 per cent of what we make. Still, every year, we experiment with little projects for fun and to explore and be curious. Today, we’re pressing a small-lot, still Chardonnay, which is a table wine.
Why is Nova Scotia such an ideal place for making wine, especially sparkling wine?
The climate here has everything to do with it. The Gaspereau is a sub-valley of the Annapolis Valley, which is a tunnel of moderation because of the Bay of Fundy. [That allows] us to preserve a low sugar content, high acidity and achieve tremendous phenolic maturity in our grapes.
What do you love about sparkling wine?
One of the most fascinating traits in sparkling wine is its ability to combine great freshness and richness.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I love playing ice hockey. [Plus], we have a growing community of passionate wine aficionados. We often get together to stay on top of the trends: the rise of the natural wine movement, orange wines, all that stuff. It doesn’t mean we’re going to follow them, but it’s good to know what’s going on in the rest of the world.
Wine pairing tips from Jean-Benoit Deslauriers
“A great match for spicy dishes such as Thai or Indian food. I would also recommend this white with light, fruit-based desserts.”
“Our icewine has all the decadent attributes—residual sugar, viscosity—that one would expect from an icewine. Try it with dark chocolate.”
A white blend of hybrid grapes. “Try it with seafood that’s indigenous to the Bay of Fundy, such as Digby scallops or lobster.”
NV (non-vintage sparkling wine)
Open on special occasions or any time you want bubbles. “It’s one of the most food-friendly wines out there.”