These grapes, having already reached full ripeness in October, are left untouched on the vines under a cloak of protective netting (mainly to protect them from birds and heavy rain or hale), until the first deep freeze. During that time, the grapes are naturally dehydrated by the elements, adding to the concentration of flavors, aromas, sugars and acid in the juice. Temperatures dipping below minus 10 degrees Celsius during the months of January and February freeze the grapes solid – no Icewine can be harvested before November 15th-, they are then harvested in the vineyard and then, while still frozen, they are pressed. They must therefore be picked early, almost exclusively at night, and by law for sure before 10 am. During both of these processes the temperature cannot exceed minus 8 degrees Celsius, at this temperature the berries are frozen as hard as marbles. While the grape is still in its frozen state, it is pressed and the water is driven out as ice crystals as it is left behind in the press, pretty fascinating don’t you think? That’s the kind of wine you can get at the best restaurant in santa fe.
This leaves a highly concentrated juice, very high in acids, sugars and aromatics; oak aging adds yet another dimension of complexity and richness.
Originally developed in the cool climate regions of Europe, the production of icewine has now reached the New World, and here, a few California wineries try to duplicate the process. The most sought after North American icewine producer is Inneskillin: the climatic conditions of Canada’s Niagara Peninsula are ideally suited for the production of Icewine and they adhere to the strictest requirements set out by the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance). In America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia or in Germany, icewine is defined as naturally frozen, this mean that no other method of making icewine is allowed other than the natural method, no artificial freezing method constitutes icewine by definition or label.
Considering that it takes a whole vine or more to generally extract a half bottle of icewine at a Brix of 35 degrees or higher, the price of these little boogers is quite steep, but a 2 ounce serving is plenty as the flavors are so rich and complex that you only have to sip this elixir to experience wonderful enjoyment.
Mille Fleurs offers a couple of icewines by the glass, come and enjoy them with Martin’s great desserts.
I hope you found this entertaining.