We sent out an email about Canadian Ice Wines today. I tend to take them for granted – they are pretty easy to get here in the Pacific Northwest. But I gather from our customers that they’re hard to get just about everywhere else.
“True” Icewines are really hard to make. You have to allow the grapes to freeze and thaw several times on the vine before picking them. Harvest happens in the middle of the night, while the grapes are fully frozen. The weather has to behave perfectly. And then you get one tiny, super concentrated drop of juice from each grape.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to try quite a number of ice wines over the years. Many of them were cloyingly sweet. But the best were sheer ambrosia, balancing sweetness with acidity.
One of my favorites of the “true” Canadian Icewines is the Inniskillin Sparkling Ice Wine. We wrote about it a few years ago on the website – Sublime aromatics of fresh lime, apricot, grapefruit and peach blossoms with a slight mineral edge. A racy interplay of sweet and tart offer up echoing flavors of lemon, lime and candied apricot. Truly a vibrant and refreshing experience!
The Inniskillin Sparkling Ice Wine is outrageously expensive ($62.95 for a bottle that serves 6-8 people in small glasses) but if you don’t turn up your nose at sweet wines, it’s pretty dang amazing. I like to give this wine at birthdays and weddings – it gets raves at the reception. Let’s face it, a lot of people like sweet wine, and if that’s their thing, why not give the best.
If you want to spend less for very similar wines, try the Icewines from Washington State and Idaho. Two of the best are the Covey Run Reserve Semillon Ice Wine 06 $20.66; and the Saint Chapelle Riesling Ice Wine $18.86.