Snooth Blog

Snooth User: John Andrews

Ice Wine

Posted by John Andrews, Dec 12, 2008.

° ° Recently one of our other bloggers here on Snooth, Callie Exas, posted a blog on dessert wines .  This is a great blog that outlines what to expect from dessert wines and what they are.  However, (no offence Callie) I felt a little bit snubbed.  You see, I am Canadian and one of the sources of national pride for Canadians is Ice Wine.  Okay, it follows right after hockey, beer, beavers and Michael J. Fox but it is still a source of national pride.  So to make sure that ice wine does its fair share of ‘Snooth Time’ I’m taking this chance to give you the 411.

So what is an Ice Wine?  Using Wikipedia for a concise definition you get this:



According to Wikipedia, the first ice wines were produced in Germany in 1794.  However, ice wines have a much shorter history than that.  The modern history of ice wine begins in 1984 with the first ‘intentional’ production.  It was first produced in Canada by a winery called Inniskillin.  The market grew strong domestically and stared with a white grape called Vidal (or Vidal Blanc).  Other than in ice wine, Vidal’s natural acidity makes it suitable for a wide range of styles, from light and crisp with racy acid, to slightly off-dry.  As the popularity grew, more wineries started to produce ice wines and started use grapes other than Vidal.

What makes an ice wine different from other dessert wines is the fact that the grapes must ‘freeze’.  That is they need to experience three days straight of temperatures below   0° Celsius or one day of -8 ° Celsius.  Additionally, the grapes should be picked at high level of sugar; at 35 ° Brix (normally table wines in California are picked at 24 to 26 Brix).  In contrast, late harvest wines are wines created from grapes picked later in the season with higher than normal Brix.  Sauternes, the famous French dessert wine, comes not from cold but a fungus called botrytis.  However, all of them are known for sweetness and high alcohol.

For me ice wines that are made properly and with care are some of the best dessert wines in the world.  They display depth with multiple layers of flavor.  There is great acidity that allows it to be paired with rich foods like Foie Gras.  Personally, a good Riesling ice wine pairs incredibly well with cheese cake or crème bruelee.  They are definitely worth a try.  Here are a few of my pics:
°
Peller Estates Riesling Ice Wine

Peller Estates Cab Franc Ice Wine

Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine

Inniskillin Riesling Ice Wine

Stratus Riesling Ice Wine

John Andrews is a software product manager during the week and is a professional Tasting Room staffer at Loxton Cellars in Glen Ellen, CA on the weekends.

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Replies

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Reply by Degrandcru, Dec 12, 2008.

John, I don´t want to mess with your Canadian pride here, but on a recent trip to Germany friends served me a

1983 Karlsberg Riesling Eiswein

that clearly stated "Eiswein" on the bottle. Don´t think that was an "unintentional" production.

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Reply by Degrandcru, Dec 12, 2008.

And if you have the change here you can get a 1970:

http://www.twenga.co.uk/offer/50206...

Blog comment by Alex, Dec 12, 2008.

The Austrians produce eiswein too.

Blog comment by Alex, Dec 12, 2008.

Oh, and probably best to refer to Botrytis Cinerea by its full name, as there are other types of fungus from the same genus that also start 'Botyrtis'.

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 12, 2008.

@Degrandcru ... from what I can see, Eiswen wines were not a yearly production. They were made with the weather permitted (similar to vintage champagne). My statement about ice wine starting in 1984 was reference for yearly production. Sorry I didn't make that clarification.

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 12, 2008.

John, I heard that there's a massive 3000+ acre vineyard planted northwest of Beijing that should get cold enough to make Eiswein every year to feed the voracious Asian appetite for this sweet delicacy. If this is the case, the global production of Eiswein should triple!

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 12, 2008.

@RBoulanger ... wanna buy some land in BC and start making some ice wine? Sounds like we might be able to make some cash.

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Reply by Degrandcru, Dec 12, 2008.

You probably should. I´ve read that it gets increasingly difficult to produce Eiswein in Germany and Austria because of the climate change. Well, maybe we can enjoy some German Tempranillo soon...

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 12, 2008.

I'd love to, but it has to be in cool-sounding Similkameen Valley.

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 12, 2008.

I can see it now ... we can be the first Alaskan ice wine winery. Alaska gets plenty of sunlight in the summer and it gets cold enough that the grapes would freeze. Presto! We can get an new AVA and call it Kodiak Cave Valley ... or something like that.

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Reply by Philip James, Dec 13, 2008.

John - thats pretty funny.

I was trolling through the forums and saw 10 replies to this in a day, so figured I had better stop by and see what the hubbub was about.

Dont forget that you can commercially simulate an icewine by tossing the grapes in the freezer. I think they call it cryofreeze or something, but thats how they make the dessert wines from apples. They freeze it, then press it.

Given that, I'll be making Mango Icewine while living in the Carribbean. Enjoy your cave!

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Reply by muddyrudder, Dec 14, 2008.

When i saw the forum title i was confused and ice cubes made from wine popped into my mind. I have to admit the idea sounded interesting at first, but, i know the outcome would be disastrous!

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Reply by oceank8, Dec 14, 2008.

Speaking of ice cubes, I was watching "Privileged" the other day (I know, I know; get over my strange TV behaviors) and they were drinking champagne with ice cubes. When someone questioned it, they said the ice cubes were made from frozen champagne. Has anyone ever heard of doing this? Does it really work?

Blog comment by Matt, Dec 15, 2008.

My wife and I attended a food-and-wine pairing event at Inniskillin this past Saturday, and they served 3 different icewines: A sparkling icewine (FANTASTIC with hors d'ourves that have a little oiliness to them), a Vidal (that's sort of their classic - really nice with shaved parmesan), and a Cabernet Franc (the most expensive, and absolutely delicious with a molten chocolate cake).

The other wines they served were fantastic as well, but the icewines were definitely the stars of the show.

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Reply by icmusiclovers, Dec 15, 2008.

I've never had any, however there is an ice wine festival up in Niagara Falls in January that I will be attending.

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Reply by MReff, Dec 16, 2008.

I recently picked up a 2004 Peller Cab Franc. No notes that I have found thus far but do these age at all?

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 16, 2008.

@MReff ... do to the high sugar content and decent acid levels ice wines should be able to hold on for many years with proper storage. Some people argue that it meant to be consumed young. I take a middle ground. I believe the would hold at least five years and probably as much as 10 to 12.

As for tasting notes, the Peller Ice Wine site has some good info:

http://www.pellericewine.com/produc...

This for the 06 (I believe) but I am sure if you emailed them you'd be able to get the 04 notes.

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Dec 16, 2008.

@ocean -- Sounds feasible. I know they freeze the top of the champagne bottle during production. That's usually to get the dead yeast out of the bottle.

May be worth a shot for this holiday season for some extra cold bubbly!

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 16, 2008.

@ocean and mark - it'll take a while to make those ice cubes since Champagne freezes at about 16 degrees F... and most of our home freezers are not much colder than that. BTW, the sweeter the Champagne, the lower the freezing point - it the same principle used when they salt the roads to prevent them from freezing.

However, here's why you don't want to ice your champagne... unless you don't want to taste anything:

http://books.google.com/books?id=-C...

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Dec 16, 2008.

Hmm -- That's good to know! You saved a bottle of Champagne today.

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