Friday, February 8, 2008

The Big Chill

Originally developed in the cool wine regions of Germany in the mid-1700s, Icewine is derived from grapes that 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.

Genuine icewine must follow 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. The wine balance is achieved by the acidity, which gives a clean, dry finish. The aromas of lychee nuts is prominent and the flavors are those of tropical fruits, like peach nectar and mango.

Try an artic blast from one this these producers. The grape variety used are listed in bold.

Egon Muller, Riesling, Eiswein; Krebs-Grode, Auxerrois, Eiswein Rheinhessen; Inniskillin, Vidal; Columbia Crest, Semillon Ice Wine, Reserve;Sepp Moser, Chardonnay, Eiswein, Kremstal; Henry of Pelham, Riesling, Ice Wine, Niagara Penninsula; Valley Vineyards, Ice Wine, Vidal Blanc, Ohio River Valley.

Hope your weekend is sweet!