Yesterday, or was it the day before? Janice, one of my readers, mentioned Ice Wine in her comment from, ‘Researching Wine Before Pursuit or Purchase’:
”On a recent tour through wine country in Niagara Falls, Canada I was given a sample of Ice Wine. What makes ice wine so different from the rest. I know it was very sweet and not to my liking just wondering the difference.” (Janice)We later met in the chat room and discussed ‘eiswein’ briefly
AveVine: ice wine?
Janice: yes, didn't really like it. Served in really tiny glasses like a liqueur because it is soooooo sweet, sickly sweet actually
Janice: All I could get from the vineyard is that it is made from grapes that are allowed to freeze on the vine before picking
AveVine: yes, is the way it's made--makes it so sweet
AveVine: yes, a good example of ice wine is
AveVine: like take a coke
AveVine: stick it in the freezer for awhile
AveVine: like 30min.
AveVine: when you open it will form ice crystals all the way down to the bottom
AveVine: careful--it tends to expand, too
AveVine: anyway what you’re left with is just the un-frozen sugars and color
AveVine: that's kind of what you’re getting w/ice wine
Janice: It is very very expensive too
AveVine: yes, takes a lot of grapes to make a little wine
AveVine: remember all the water's froze out of the cycle
Janice: cool, thanks for checking that for me
AveVine: ok, I'll put together an article about ice wine for the site and you, tooAs promised--here’s the short version to start
“Ice wine, direct Anglicization of the German EISWEIN, Sweet wine made from ripe grapes picked when frozen on the vine and pressed so that water crystals remain in the press and the sugar content of the resulting wine is increased. This sort pf true ice wine is a specialty of Canada where it is written Icewine and where more is produced each year than in any other country (50,000 cases in a good year by the late 1990s) It is also increasingly made in Luxenborg, Oregon, and in Michigan in the United States. The term has also been used in other English speaking countriesfor wines made by artificial freeze concentration, or cryo-extraction.” (Robinson)Ok, now let’s go for a long look
Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, so the result is an unusually concentrated, often very sweet wine. The effect is comparable to the freeze distillation that was traditionally used to make applejack and similar beverages, but in the case of ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwards. Unlike other unfortified dessert wines, grapes for ice wine tend not to be affected by Botrytis cinera. When the grapes are free of botrytis, they are said to have come in "clean."
The most famous (and expensive) ice wines are German Eisweins, but ice wine is also made in Canada and the United States. Eiswein is part of the QmP category in the German wine classification. Ice wine production in Canada is regulated by the Vintners Quality Alliance.
Natural ice wines require a hard frost (roughly -9 ̊C, 15 ̊F) to occur sometime after the grapes are ripe, which means that the grapes may hang on the vine for several months. If a frost does not come quickly enough, the grapes may rot and the crop will be lost. If the frost is too severe, no juice can be extracted. Bird losses and dropped fruit will also reduce yield the longer it hangs on the vine. Since the fruit must be pressed while still frozen, pickers often must work at night harvesting the grapes within a few hours, while cellar workers must work in unheated spaces.
Some winemakers use cryoextraction to simulate the effect of a frost and typically do not leave the grapes to hang for extended periods as is done with a natural ice wine. Perhaps the most famous of these is Bonny Doon's "Vin de Glaciere" (icebox wine). In Germany and Canada the grapes must freeze naturally to be called ice wine.
Because of the lower yield of grapes and the difficulty of processing, ice wines are more expensive than table wines. The high sugar levels lead to a slower than normal fermentation. They are often sold in half-bottles (375 ml).
Typical grapes used for ice wine production are: Riesling, Seyval, Vidal Blanc, and, interestingly, the red grape Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc ice wine is a light pink color, like most rose wines.
, the free encyclopedia.)
This process first developed in Franconia, Germany in 1794. It is highly priced drinks mostly available Germany, Austria and Canada. The Niagara region of Ontario, Canada is currently the leading producer of ice wines. In Ontario and in Germany, ice wine called as naturally frozen. This means that here as in Germany, no other method of making ice wine is allowed other than the natural method. No artificial freezing method constitutes ice wine by definition or label.
Temperature Sugar Content
To make Ice wine, the grapes are left on the vine until after the first frost hits. These grapes are harvested after being frozen in the vineyard and then, while still frozen, they are pressed. They must be picked early - mostly before 10 a.m. During both of these processes the temperature cannot exceed -8 degrees C. At this temperature (-8 degrees C) the berries will freeze as hard as marbles. While the grape is still in its frozen state, it is pressed and the water is driven out as shards of ice. This leaves a highly concentrated juice, very high in acids, sugars and aromatics.
Typically Ice wine is made of Vidal and Riesling grapes. After this long harvest process, the grapes go through weeks of fermentation, followed by a few months of barrel aging.
Ice wine generally tastes sweet with fruity (apricot, peach, mango, melon ) and usually drunk as a dessert wine. Chilled for one two hours before consuming it.Then there’s the regulatory thing–never seams to fail--Inniskillin ...:
Originally developed in the cool wine regions of Germany in the mid-1700s, Icewine is ideally suited to the Niagara peninsula and the Okanagan Valley's climatic conditions.
Grapes are left on the vine well into the winter months. The resulting freezing and thawing of the grapes dehydrates the fruit, and concentrates the sugars, acids, and extracts in the berries, thereby intensifying the flavours and adding complexity to the wine made from it.
Genuine icewine must follow VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) regulations that prohibit any artificial freezing of grapes. The grapes are painstakingly picked by hand in their natural frozen state, ideally at temperatures of -10 to -13 degrees C -- sometimes the picking must be done at night to take advantage of the temperature. Yields are very low, often as little as 5-10 percent of normal.
The frozen grapes are pressed in the extreme cold. The water in the juice remains frozen as ice crystals, and only a few drops of sweet concentrated juice is obtained. This juice is then fermented very slowly for several months, stopping naturally.
The finished icewine is intensely sweet and flavorful in the initial mouth sensation. The balance is achieved by the acidity, which gives a clean, dry finish. The nose of icewine recalls lychee nuts. The wine tastes of tropical fruits, with shadings of peach nectar and mango.
Icewine is winter's gift to the wine lover: one of the best-kept secrets of the wine world that garners gold medals in virtually every competition in which it is entered.
The greatest of international accolade for Canadian Icewine was bestowed on Inniskillin 1989 Icewine at Vinexpo, Bordeaux, in June 1991. This wine, judged by an international panel, was accorded the fair's highest award, Le Grand Prix d'Honneur.
And here’s some Icewines, recent Inniskillin releases I beleive, discribed:
2002 Oak Aged Vidal Icewine
An enchanting integration of fresh tropical fruits, mango, litchi, apricot and papaya with intermingling layers of buckwheat honey and ginger. Superb sweet / tart interplay featuring flavors of apricot and honey. Outstanding complexities and length deliver pure refined elegance, which will only improve with age.
2002 Cabernet Franc Icewine
This wine is both intensely aromatic and varietally distinct, from an incredible Icewine vintage. Portraying aromas of herbs, eucalyptus, strawberry, baked rhubarb and spiced apple. Rich echoing flavors of cranberry, apple and strawberry are enlightened by a refreshed acidity, creating a truly vibrant and invigorating experience!
2001 Riesling Icewine
This wines’ intense aromas range from fresh blossoms and apricot to tangerine andj candied lime. Rich up front flavors are enhanced with a lively fresh acidity that is both harmonious and refreshing, providing promise for excellent cellaring.
2000 Plut Vineyards Vidal Icewine
Displays a deep yellow gold color. Intense honey and tropical fruit aromas. Concentrated rich sweet honey flavors with a long lasting finish.
2002 Vidal Icewine
The nobility of this vintage shines with an alluring assortment of fresh nectarine, papaya, litchi, tangerine and orange blossoms. These exquisite fruit flavors, combined with invigorating acidity offer multi-layers of balanced pleasure.
2001 Sparking Icewine
Fine elegant bubbles with pure focused northern fruit aromas, of fresh apricot, nectarine and peach. These wonderfully enlightened flavours both enchant and delight your palate offering incredible length, finesse and balance.Guess we better talk a little about “Serving Icewine:”
Icewine unopened and stored on it side in a cool (55-65 degrees F) place, away from vibrations and strong smells, can keep up to 25 years. The aging is also affected by the Growing Season, some years were better than others and therefore the wine will age differently.
If you have a specific year, we can advise you on how long you can store it for. Icewines as they age, darken in colour as well as increase in price! If you save it for a special occasion, you certainly will not be disappointed!
Once an Icewine is opened, you have 3-5 days to finish it up... but that is usually not a problem! Once a wine of any type is exposed to air, it begins to oxidize slowly and if left open too long, it tastes and smells bitter.
Icewines can be enjoyed in their youth or aged for many years. Icewines in their youth offer fresh fruit and are crisp and clean. Older Icewines tend to have a greater degree of depth, complexity and wide range of intense aromatics. As Icewines continue to age, the naturally concentrated acidity present lingers and follows through for a unique and harmonious balance.
Use discretion when pairing Icewines with food. Also, dishes or desserts that tend to be quite sweet may take away from the luscious experience and leave a cloying effect on your palate. Neutral desserts, such as pear tart, apple and peach based sauce desserts; strong cheeses and foie gras tend to create a harmonious balance.Hope that covers it for you! :)