One of nature's most exquisite gifts one of the world's most luscious and celebrated wines. It is one of the most difficult and challenging processes for the winemaker.
Canada is the world leader in producing amazing Ice Wines
Making Icewine is a Canadian game, we may not have invented it but we have perfected it. Canada's Niagara region has the long, warm summers and cold winters that create the ideal conditions for Icewine.** The Icewine harvest, done entirely by hand, commences once the temperature drops below -10 to -13 degrees Celsius and the grapes have naturally frozen on the vines. As the frozen grapes are pressed, the natural water portion of the juice remains within the grape skins in the form of ice crystals. A tiny but precious ration of highly concentrated juice is expressed. The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia also produces outstanding Icewines as do Nova Scotia and Quebec.
The discovery of Icewine was accidental. Due to a cool summer and exceptionally cold winter in 1794, wine producers in Franconia, Germany, by virtue of necessity, created Icewine by pressing juice from frozen grapes. They were amazed by the high sugar concentration. It was not until the mid 1800's, however, that Icewine was intentionally made. This occurred in the Rheingau region.
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 fruit, thereby intensifying the flavours and adding complexity to the wine. This juice is then fermented very slowly for several months, stopping naturally. Genuine Icewine must be naturally produced; no artificial freezing is permitted.
The icewine harvest, done entirely by hand, commences once the temperature drops below -10 to -13 degrees Celcius and the grapes have frozen naturally on the vines. As the frozen grapes are pressed, the natural water portion of the juice remains within the grape skins in the form of ice crystals. A tiny but precious ration of highly concentrated juice is expressed.
The juice from wine grape is about one-fifth the amount you would normally get if you pressed unfrozen grapes. To put it another way, a vine will normally produce sufficient grapes to make a bottle of wine; but frozen grapes will produce only one glass of Icewine. This would explain the difference in price between the two.
The finished Icewine is intensely sweet and flavourful 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. The high sugar levels lead to a slower than normal fermentation.
The signature of a great Icewine is the balancing tension between the sweetness and the acidity, with seductive tropical fruit flavours followed by a crisp, bracing finish which, when the wine is swallowed, is vividly refreshing. This brilliantly focused acidity distinguishes the icewine from sauternes and accounts for the freshness.* The finished Icewine creates a unique sensation on the palate.
Renowned for fruit flavours ranging from mango to peach to lychees, Icewine is truly a natural wonder and extreme winemaking at its best, yielding the impressions of tropical tastes wrought from the frigid extremes of the icy Canadian winterscape.***
Typical grapes used for Icewine production are: Riesling Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc and, interestingly, the red grape, Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc Icewine is a light pink colour, similar to a Rosé wine.