Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Icewine is a rare gift from a magical Canadian winter. Picked at the coldest moment of a winter's night, each frozen grape creates just one drop of Icewine. One smooth rich, luxurious drop.

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. The grapes picked at the coldest moment of a winter's night, each frozen grape creates just one drop of Icewine. Just one smooth rich, luxurious drop. As the grape freezes new sensations of sweet juice are created.

Icewine produced in Canada is required to meet the standard, as determined by a provincial authority that has verified that the product is wine that was made exclusively from grapes naturally frozen on the vine. Four of Canada’s wine-producing provinces – Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia – have already established acceptable provincial regimes, which meet the new federal standard and follow international protocols.

According to Canadian wine law, grapes designated for icewine cannot be picked until the mercury drops to at least -8°C (17° Fahrenheit), although colder temperatures make for a better quality product. The sugar level of the grapes at the time of harvest must reach a reading of at least 35 Brix (one degree Brix is equal to 1 gram of grape sugar); otherwise, they can only be designated as Special Select Late Harvest or Select Late Harvest wine.

During Icewine season, wineries and grape growers keep a careful watch on the weather forecast looking for an optimum stretch of temperatures between -10 and -12 °C ( standards may vary from province to province). This temperature range will produce juice in the range of 35 to 39 ° Brix (roughly equivalent to the per cent sugar in the juice). Typically, a period of at least 6 hours is needed to harvest and press the grapes – and it is usually an overnight job. Most small and medium-sized
wineries harvest by hand, often with volunteers who are enthusiastic Icewine lovers and want to experience the harvest first hand. Warm clothing is required. Mechanized harvesting has been developed very recently and is now an option for larger vineyards.

Once the grapes are harvested, they are pressed in small hydraulic presses under much higher pressure than normal for grapes harvested in the regular season. Because the grapes are frozen, most of the mass is water, and is left behind as ice in the press. Only a small amount of concentrated juice is extracted. Juice yields for Icewine grapes are much lower than for table wines – with average yields of 500 litres for each acre netted or approximately 15% of the expected yield for grapes harvested for table wines. This reflects both the losses in grape volume from dehydration while the grapes hang and losses to hungry birds and other animals.

Icewine juice is very sweet and can be difficult to ferment. High sugars can create a hostile environment for the yeast and fermentation stops early, leaving relatively low alcohol and high sugar levels in the finished wine.
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.***

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Icewine and Food

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

 Among our many friends is a gentleman who lives in the United States of America.  He lives in a small town in Washington State. Therefore he has access to a number of American wines from California, Oregan and Washington at reasonable prices.

 Among his favourite wineries is Columbia Crest Estate Winery located Paterson overlooking the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. In the application known as Horse Heaven Hills. The winery opened in 1983.

In 1990 the named as one of the best value wineries in the world by Wine Advocate. The awards kept on coming. Their reputation is among the best of all Washington Wineries.

Last evening our friend joined a number of us for dinner. He brought along a couple of bottles of Columbia Crest  2016 Grand Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Everyone agreed that it was a very good wine. The bottles emptied quickly.

The bold wine is complex with good structure. Providing on the nose dark berry fruits especially plum followed by notes of chocolate and vanilla. Score one for Washington wines.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Grocery Store Wines

At a recent party I hosted in honour of my wife's birthday. One of our friends arrived with three bottles of wine. Greatly appreciated, as two were whites. I prefer a good white wine for these types of gathering. The other was a red wine called Contra Diction. It was a merlot.

I did not recognize the name or the label. On the back it said " Contradiction Montreal, Quebec". Oh good I thought an opportunity to try a Quebec wine.

However, a little research led to disappointment. This was a grocery store wine. Commonly know as a cellared in Canada wine. In March of 2018, the Cellared in Canada or CIC labelled wine is officially illegal. The deceptive packaging has been outlawed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) who announced the approval of new wine label designations to replace “Cellared in Canada”. Replacing the current label designation “Cellared in Canada from imported and/or domestic wines” is “international blend from imported and domestic wines”, for imported wines. For domestically-produced wines, the new term is “international blend from domestic and imported wines.” The Contra Diction was so marked in very small print on the back label.

These imported wines can actually be quite good. However, they can also be, shell we say no so good. The main purpose seems to be to produce a cheaper wine to fix most consumers budget" Since workers in Canada are paid higher than most other countries. These wines are cheaper to produce. Why are Cellared in Canada so popular? One reason is they have a lower price point than VQA wines. Another may be that the names are familiar to us dating back into the 70 and 80s such as Hochtaler and Bright's Wines.

Only in Quebec have I actually seen wines referred to as Grocery Store wines. However if you Google the term Contradiction Merlot and Bodacious pop up.

Be careful when searching for a good wine

A google search for Hidden Treasure winery produced no actual winery but

Hidden Treasure Argentinian red wine | Metro
https://www.metro.ca › ... › Wines, Cocktails & Coolers › Red Wine

Hidden Treasure South African red wine | Metro
https://www.metro.ca › ... › Wines, Cocktails & Coolers › Red Wine

Both links led to the same page lacking any information about the wine or country of origin.

A different website listed Hidden Treasure as wine from Spain.

I like Canada's true VQA wines!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Birthday Cake And Wine.

With my wife's birthday rapidly approaching I had to ask my self what wines go best with a birthday cake. The answer, of course, would not be an easy one. There are so many different styles of wine and so many different types of cake.

I decided to start with what wines we had in our home ready to serve our friends. It seems we have more reds, mostly Syrah than whites.

I now had a decision. I knew what cake would be best. Before proceeding I took a look at some other combinations.

Red Valet cake is very popular, with its smooth texture and cream cheese frosting, it's delicious. perhaps the best wine here would be Pinot Noir.

Funfetti cake with its complicated flavours means it has to be a sparkling wine.

A devil cake lets go with three selections Cabernet, Grenache, and Syrah, unless its all white devil cake or lemon then select a with like riesling or Petite Milo.

We can not forget the cheesecake. Once again their numerous flavours associated with cheesecakes but you can not go wrong with a dessert wine.

Lemon Meringue Cake is simply delicious. My personal choice here would be Bacchus, Ortega or dessert wine.

The very popular Black Forest cake. This one is hard to find the perfect pairing. Some resources say "just serve coffee" But let's give it a shot. How about a tawny port? A late harvest wine? Perhaps an Icewine!

So what cake will I be buying ( or perhaps make myself)? The best solution to this minor concern is "Ask the Wife"

However, chances are it will be a simple chocolate cake.

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