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Posts Tagged ‘Eiswine’

Drink This Weekend Edition: Ice wine for sweet(heart) drinking

Friday, February 10th, 2012

020912_vidalicewineIt’s high season for ice wine and, with Valentine’s Day just a few days away, lovey-doveys might want to consider this specialized dessert wine to make the evening just a bit sweeter. Ice wine is produced from ripe grapes that are frozen on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, yet the water does, resulting in a more concentrated, sweeter wine.

The largest producers of ice wine are Canada and Germany, where it is labeled Eiswein. When it comes to Canadian ice wine, Inniskillin Winery in Ontario is the leader of the pack. Among the company’s ice wine portfolio, the non-oaked Inniskillin Vidal is a great one to try. Vidal is a go-to grape for ice wine producers since this French hybrid is hardy, rich in tropical aromas and flavors, but also balanced in acidity. You’ll find it at Lukas Liquor, priced at $50 for a 350-ml bottle, the typical bottling for ice wine.

Yes, you read that price right. The risky nature of late harvesting, labor-intense production and smaller yield usually equals a hefty price tag. Not so sure that your Valentine is that worthy? There are other late-harvest wines that cost much less.

New Zealand has become a serious contender in the wine biz, and two area wine sellers suggested late harvests from this part of the Pacific Rim as great value buys: Selaks Premium Selection Ice and Alpha Domus Hawkes Bay Leonarda Late Harvest Semillion. The former tastes of rich, dried apricots and honey, yet is still crisp and refreshing. It’s priced at $18 for a 350-ml bottle at Lukas Liquor. The Leonarda offers a fruity mango and orange bouquet, with lush flavors of marmalade and honey plus a citrusy grapefruit boost. Find this $21 bottle at Bin 51 Wine and Spirits.

Among domestic options, consider Oregon-based King Estate’s Signature Vin Glacé, made from organic Pinot Gris grapes. This high-on-tropical fruit wine is “not as concentrated [as other ice wines], but still sweet,” according to Tim Greco, wine manager at Lukas Liquor, where it’s sold for $15. Don’t dismiss Missouri wines, either, like that produced by Augusta Winery. The winery’s winemaker Tony Kooyumjian noted that he lets the Vidal Blanc grapes hang as long as possible — typically picking them in November or December. “If they are not naturally frozen at harvest, we freeze them mechanically and then process them,” he explained. “That’s why we are able to produce our wine at a reasonable price.” Grab a $15 bottle at Lukas Liquor or grab a seat at Annie Gunn’s, where it is a popular sell at $8 a glass.

“Ice wine is a tremendous conclusion to a meal,” said Glenn Bardgett, wine director at Annie Gunn’s and Sauce wine contributor. “It’s crisp, fresh and aromatic and when it goes with something sweet, rich and soothing, it’s like a good backrub,” he said. Lovers in love, take note.

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