Wine Talk

Snooth User: jamessulis


Posted by jamessulis, Dec 3, 2015.

Tried my first Ice wine. It was a bottle of 2007 Inniskillin (Vidal) produced and bottled in Niagra on the Lake Ontario Canada.

This bottle was sent to be by a friend in the Midwest. It is certainly one of the sweetest wines  that I have ever tasted. "There's incredible depth of both flavor and texture in this golden icewine from Inniskillin. Initially, it's rich and creamy on the tongue with notes of honey, waxy florals and apple. The, bright flashes of acidity bring forth tones of tangerine and Meyer lemon. Long and langourous on the finish, it's a gorgeous wine all around."

I paired it with some of my favorite Blue Cheese chunks on rice crackers. The only thing better than this experience would be winning the lottery so I can buy few cases.  It's a bit pricey at between $50 and $60 per half bottle (375 ml.) Yum didty yum yum!


Reply by dmcker, Dec 3, 2015.

So why'd it take so long to try one?  ;-)

Have you had any or many other kinds of desssert wines (botrytised rieslings, tokaji, port, madeira, etc.)?

Reply by JonDerry, Dec 3, 2015.

I believe I've tried a few Ice Wine's on various "dessert lists" while out at restaurants, but have never committed to buying a bottle at a shop, etc.

Sounds like this bottle about lived up to the price point. Good friend!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 3, 2015.

Hey, Lefty, welcome back!

D, I haven't had Ice(Eis)wine(wein) yet, and I drink like a fish.  There's a lot of ground to cover. And if you really love your Malbec like Lefty does, it's hard to break away.  My sweet wine explorations are pretty recent, but I'll say that I have bought a bit of Sauternes (it's a bargain in half bottles, unless you insist on Yquem).  Give me the right Madeira, port, Tokaji, and I'm happy to sip away.  Not all sherries are sweet, but I've enjoyed some that are like liquid burnt caramel (JD was not so hot on those).  Beerenauslese will probably have to wait, as it's quite a bit more expensive than those Eisweins usually are.  If you get down this way, Lefty, I'm happy to share some of my Sauternes with you.

 I also haven't tried any DRC, but if some friend here wants to help me out....

Reply by dmcker, Dec 3, 2015.

As it happens I have three bottles of Vidal icewine in my apartment's wine cooler right now (2008 Cristalli which is a red, 2011 Peller Estates Blanc, 2011 Wayne Gretzky Estates No. 99, none of which I've had before) and one Casas del Bosque Late Harvest riesling from Chile. The only sherry in the house is fino, though occasionally I'll buy olorosos or even Pedro Ximenez. Last bottle of port in the house got finished a week ago. No Madeira or Marsala or Vin Santo or others for awhile. These bottles are part of a six-cases-of-wine and three-cases-of-sake allotment I received in kind for help with a wine auction.

The eiswein I've bought and consumed in the past has been German, not from the Niagara bench, so these should be interesting. Though I have had Canadian and New York Ice Wine that others have poured. My daughters like such wines, so there will be no doubt they'll get consumed. These are all 375s, while the eiswein and sauternes and tokaji and port and sherry and madeira, etc. I've bought in the past were usually 750s (or the slightly smaller Hungarian bottles). As has been commented on elsewhere, I also prefer balanced wines with good acid zip to them, rather than treacle. I have no trouble finding vintage ports that offer up that effect, though there rare plenty of rubies and tawnies and lesser ports that are problematic. Sauternes and Barsacs and Tokajis and German ausleses, beerenausleses and trockenbeerenausles almost never seem to be a problem in that regard, but that may be because of the labels I've purchased rather than a universal.

Fox, saw a good deal on Suduiraut halfs just recently. Have had plenty of that label over the years.



Reply by GregT, Dec 3, 2015.

The sweet wines are very different depending on the production method. I'm kind of a sugar slut so I like them all were someone to pour them, but as far as what I'd buy, that's a different story.  Top of the list for me are the botrytized wines and top of that list has to be Tokaj Aszú for the reasons mentioned - the poise between acidity and sugar. Those are probably the most delicate and refined of all the sweet wines, probably because they have such high levels of acidity in spite of the sometimes astronomical levels of sugar.

The TBAs and BAs from Germany and Austria can be wonderful too, but it depends on the grape used. If it's Riesling, that's a good bet. Wines from Sauternes and Barsac are different from the Hungarians. The Hungarians do in fact make wines similar to Sauternes - it's a cheaper way to do it and it's increasingly done, but those types of wines are clunkier than the aszú wines - thicker, more viscous, and while often delicious, not as delicate. 

Icewines depend on the acidity level in the grapes when they freeze. They're already late harvest, so you always hope for a year when they didn't get overly ripe. It's harder to get those right. James made the perfect pairing however - wonderful with a good, savory blue cheese! The Inniskillin is a good one. Those guys started out trying to make "regular" wine back in the 1970s but trying wine in Ontario was a bad idea because they'd lose their harvest to snow or animals, so eventually they figured they'd try to make ice wine. It was dismissed initially, partly because they were using grapes like Vidal, which is cold hardy and really doesn't have high acidity. I dismissed it for years until I had a bottle. Then I gave them credit for sticking with it.

Fortified wines are another story entirely and I've learned long ago never to drink them in the same setting as the other wines. It's like Fred Astaire vs Terminator. Side by side with a botrytized wine, they're clumsy, overwhelming, and crude. On their own they're fine - I have a bit of Port, Banyuls, and Malaga wines, but they need to be savored on their own.

Of those, Madeira has to be the most interesting. Not the sweetest of them, but the less sweet ones that retain salinity, acidity, and complexity. Absolutely wonderful wines; maybe the most complex in the world. Sweet sherries are good but again, something like a "cream" sherry, only slightly sweet. It's dismissed as an American thing, but so what. If it's going to be really sweet, I'd prefer Moscatel to PX, which is, if you take more than a spoonful, a thick, gooey, tooth-destroying substance.

BTW - that 500ml Hungarian bottle is traditional for them and they've recently decided to make their 750s in the same shape. That didn't meet with universal agreement, so at the moment it's mostly limited to Mád.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 4, 2015.

Ran out of time during my last post so didn't flesh a number of things out. Agree with you wholeheartedly, Greg, that Madeiras can be ethereal. Also that PX  can be nasty. I only buy it when I know someone else wants it, or it'll be used in a recipe. Generally I buy 10 dry sherries to every sweet.

Not sure I'd call d'Yquem clunky. But it truly is in a class of its own within its category, much more so than many leading brands within other categories. I didn't mention Banyuls because I do view it as a blunderbuss compared to the rapier of most of the others I did mention. And the German references were to riesling. Have had those classes of wines for other varietals, but rarely have I been impressed, other than the novelty factor. What's fascinating is trying to find a fine Marsala. Apparently they used to be rife, but that wine region has suffered a drop in prestige and economic relevance like few others over the past half century or more. Someday I'll be boots on the ground in Sicily chasing down the current best.

I'm not feeling a lot of love for Port around here, but good vintage ports can definitely be special. Your point is taken about not mixing the fortified with the merely fermented. Instinctively it's nothing I would ever want to do. I have done pure distilled drinks after both types when some diehard insists we keep drinking but the dessert-wine soldiers are all dead.

Nice story about Inniskillin. Have no info on those three bottles I currently hold, but no real expectations, either.

Reply by jamessulis, Dec 4, 2015.


Yes I have tried all the wines you mentioned except Icewine. The icewine was a gift and I never thought to seek it out. Years ago when Sauternes were a bigger value I purchased a Chateau d'Yquem, the sauternes that was Napoleon's favorite, and it was unforgettable. Two months ago I had a glass of Tokaji and it was in downtown Budapest, Hungary...........I bought a bottle and it actually stayed in contact through the Airports (It was wrapped in bubble wrap). This tokaji came with a ceramic jar which is put into the fridge with the wine prior to serving, both are taken out and the ceramic earthenware keeps the bottle cold.

Getting back to the Icewine, it was new to me and it certainly was a treat.


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