Editor’s note: Ice wine has put colder wine regions in the winner's circle at the world's most prestigious winetasting competitions.
And... ice wine is one of the true wonders of the winemaking world. Here's what I mean...
It is a remarkable journey from a frozen vineyard to the moment you buy ice wine. Ice wine producers are like treasure hunters... The treasure is hidden in grapes frozen solid, that are picked a full two months after the normal grape harvest.
The grape vines that are to be used for ice wine, are covered entirely with fine mesh at the end of August to protect them from autmn grape lovers.. crows and deer.
The grapes are left to ripen... through the autumn and the first cold nights...
And ripen... through the first snows...
And ripen... as the ground beneath them turns to ice. Finally, with no leaves on the trees and nothing stirring except the cold northern winds, and when all life seems to have ceased... there they are... in the grey light of winter can you see them?....
And when the temperature is at -10 degrees Celsius for at least three straight days, only then can an ice wine harvest begin.
Ice Wine Grapes : "Jewels on the vine"
It happens in darkness in the middle of the night or the very early pre-dawn hours.
Grape harvesters emerge from the warmth and safety of their homes and enter the blackness to meet and gather their "jewels on the vine".
And the grapes are as hard as jewels. They must be picked in darkness to avoid any warmth, even from a winter sun, to prevent any thawing and softening at all. Tons of grapes are picked and carted through snow and ice, to the grape presses.
Even then, the doors to the processing rooms must be left open to invite the cold winter air to join them inside.
Almost everything inside each grape is fozen solid as they are placed in the grape press. Almost everything... except a few drops of rich, sweet nectar hiding in each grape.
An ice wine harvest only produces 10% of the juice that a normal wine pressing would yield. But what a precious 10% it is.
Reisling grapes are most often used to make ice wine, but winemakers are adventurers at heart, and they are creating some amazing Shiraz ice wines. * (Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, has a Shiraz ice wine offered by a vineyard he owns.)
meal and your special someone, is truly one of the "must do" adventures of your wine journey. Because the flavors are concentrated so intensely in the nectar of the deeply ripened grapes, the tastes literally explode in your mouth.
Intense sensations of fresh fruits and fruit blossoms, fill the senses. This is why ice wine is often called "dessert in a glass." And that's pretty accurate, because when we buy ice wine, it is a treat so delicious that it can be enjoyed alone after a meal.
But it is also a perfect wine pairing with certain desserts and this should not be missed.
Ice Wine Tasting Tips
* Try pouring an ounce of ice wine over French Vanilla ice cream... amazing.
* When you buy ice wine, serve it with a dessert that is less sweet than the ice wine itself