Wine Talk

Snooth User: queendom

Eiswein

Posted by queendom, Jan 28, 2010.

I'm finding an interest in icewine. I don't know very much about it, but what qualities am I to expect in an icewine?

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Replies

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Reply by zufrieden, Jan 28, 2010.

Icewine is really nectar of the gods to a lot of folks. I live in Vancouver, BC so have access to some of the best in the world from the Okanagan Valley. In general, these wines - if made well and there is sufficient frost to freeze the grapes on the vine prior to winter harvesting (and the bears and the crows don't get them) are magnificent.

Flavour will depend on the grape utilised to make the wine. Reisling is the classic, but Ehrenfelser - even Chardonnay is sometimes used. If the base is Riesling, you have fruit preserve (especially pear and peach) topped with wild honey, floral notes that slide off your tongue in super-sweet layers. (There are icewines from Merlot and other red grapes as well, but I tend to be a traditionalist).

Magnificent, but not meant for over-indulgence - unless you are also a fan of fine sweets. For some reasonably informed local reviews of BC icewine (which may or may not be hard to obtain) you can can try:

http://www.gismondionwine.com/

For German examples, you could try your local wine merchant. I'm pretty sure there will be more commentary and suggestions from others as well.

Cheers!

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 28, 2010.

Hi Queendom!

The only ice wines I've tasted were up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New york. I guess they are pretty popular there.. I am not one to advise, as they are too sweet for me, but you may want to try that area...

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Reply by zufrieden, Jan 29, 2010.

I see icewine in much the same way - more of a "special occasion" wine - like Champagne (at least, for most of us). Icewine has become a bit of a holiday tradition in Canada - if you can find all the bettter producers you might want. Much of the best is exported to Japan, China and Southeast Asia.

Finger Lakes icewine is a rare find in Canada but has a good reputation.

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Reply by queendom, Jan 29, 2010.

Great! I will start my search in my local wine shops. I do enjoy sweeter wines at times. You guys almost make it sound like a dessert wine.

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Reply by amour, Jan 29, 2010.

ICEWINE is a dessert wine.

PELEE ISLAND WINERY (CANADA)has great icewine.
I personally suggest it, based on my tastings of it over time.

Cheers!

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Reply by RichD, Jan 29, 2010.

Icewine is a dessert wine. The wineries on the north fork of Long Island, New York make wonderful icewine.

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Reply by annhird, Jan 29, 2010.

Icewine is sweet. Never serve a wine that is not as sweet as the dessert...with this wine , think ..creme brulee for a great pairing.

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Reply by Metodi K, Jan 29, 2010.

Just go ahead and try Inniskilline....its such and amazing dessert wine.I would say one of the best:)

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Reply by RichD, Jan 29, 2010.

Inniskilline is fantastic!!! Totally agree.

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Reply by queendom, Jan 29, 2010.

Well I definitely have my homework cut out for me. I'm in NC, and I find that most vineyards here produce muscadine or scuppernong wines.

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Reply by cigarman168, Jan 29, 2010.

Eiswein will normally associated more with Germany. For those icewine, the balance between sweetness and acidity is crucial to choose good quality one.

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Reply by amour, Jan 29, 2010.

Unctuous elixir
Gently squeezed by spiritual hands
OH! its ethereal qualities!
Icy liquid gold!

Icewine is always semi-sweet to sweet,
light yellow to yellowish green in colour.

It does not require aging. However,
I am told that it will improve slowly with age
and will not pass its prime for decades.
It should be served chilled to 6 degrees centigrade/42.8F.

It is suggested that icewine goes well
with subtle sweets such as Sachetorte or similar items,
also with aromatic desserts and blueberry flavoured desserts,
tarragon flavoured items have also been said to go well.

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Reply by queendom, Jan 29, 2010.

Liquid gold, huh..now I'm really anxious. I see amour has a way with description. Very nice.

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Reply by gregt, Jan 29, 2010.

Queendom - as others have mentioned, it's generally associated with Germany, because in recent history that's where the first commercial production was, but it's also made in other parts of the world, mostly in North America. Because it doesn't require botrytis, it's a more reliable method of making a sweet wine and it can also be made with a wider variety of grapes. Consequently you find it in white and red versions.

Because the grapes are left on the vines, you get a late-harvest effect anyway. That means that the grapes get super ripe and the sugar content goes way up. When the weather gets cold, the water wants to freeze but as you know from your high-school chemistry, when the water has a lot of stuff dissolved in it, the freezing point drops. So what happens is little molecules of water freeze and the sugars and other things dissolved in the water get pushed out into the liquid water, and that happens until the remaining little bit of liquid is so full of dissolved compounds, mostly sugars, that it's just too thick to freeze. Then the grape can be pressed and that syrupy juice squeezed out. The ice of course, is solid so it remains behind.

It's a way of concentrating the flavors because you take out a lot of water. In Germany, they also make wine by drying the grapes, or letting the grapes get botrytis, and those are probably more famous and more expensive. But the flavor is really different. Eiswein has a lower sugar content than the highest level of German sweet wine but it's also got a completely different flavor profile.

Because there is no botrytis, the flavors brought about by that are absent. You usually have a more crystaline kind of sweetness combined with an intensity of the particular grape flavors. And sometimes a bit of a raisin quality because after all, the grapes are very ripe. And it's thicker than your normal wines.

People also make it by simply freezing the grapes artificially, rather than letting them freeze on the vines. I suppose it doesn't really matter, but the traditional way was to let them freeze in place.

I generally don't serve any of those sweet wines with dessert. They are dessert. Maybe with something like nuts or a pastry that isn't particularly sweet. But I avoid chocolate desserts and most sweet things with those wines.

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Reply by queendom, Jan 30, 2010.

Great info. Greg. I am not crazy about sweets, but I enjoy a sweet wine ocassionally. I don't think I would drink it with dessert either. Nuts or pastries would be my choice.

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Reply by morevinoplease, Jan 30, 2010.

Hi queendom - what part of NC are you in? I am in north carolina too :) One of our fellow snooth's suggested Inniskillin out of the Niagra area, which I highly recommend. In addition to their whites, they make a very interesting cabernet franc icewine. I would also suggest Jackson Triggs - from a similar region, that would be a little be more inexpensive then the Inniskillin. While you are on the ice wine kick - I would suggest giving a late-harvest riesling a try - this would be a riesling where the grapes have been affected by a naturally occurring rot "botrytis" - it causes higher residual sugar.

Hope you enjoy the experience!

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Reply by queendom, Jan 30, 2010.

Thanks@morevinoplease. I did look up Inniskillin on the net. If Jackson Triggs is less expensive, I might wanna try that first. I'm in Shelby, little town about 40min. out of Charlotte. Of course, all of the action is in Charlotte.

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Reply by zufrieden, Jan 30, 2010.

No, northern USA and Canada have the best. I don't have the time here to explain, but we will convince you that Northern USA and Southern Canada are the best - as most would now agree. What I would suggest is doing a blind tasting, I know North America would win against any German enrties.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 31, 2010.

Herr (doktor?) zufrieden and I are going to have to agree to disagree that the best icewines and late harvest rieslings are from the USA and Canada rather than Germany. But on a different subject, any good places you (and morevinoplease) can recommend to eat and drink in the Triangle? I have family in the area, and may actually visit them one of these days....

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Reply by queendom, Jan 31, 2010.

Well dmcker, you should definitely swing through Charlotte. It's a restaurant mecca. Too many to suggest, but I do have my personal favs. Zufrieden, your right..a blind tasting would be best. I do fancy rieslings though.

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