When I recently told a group of friends that my next blog topic would be ice wines, one friend asked how I choose my topics–with this one, it was easy–I just pointed to the icy landscape, outside.
No, ice wines (German: Eiswein) are not wines with ice added. They are made from grapes that have been frozen on the vines before being harvested. OK, some winemakers take a shortcut and freeze the grapes after harvesting, but I digress….
The freezing process intensifies the flavor and sweetness of the grapes. The downside, is that the harvesting is more difficult and the yield is not as bountiful, but what do we, as wine consumers care!
I went to the brilliant Bernie Parker, the Vineyard Manager at Oliver Winery to ask about their 2007 Creekbend Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. He said:
“We just released the 2007 ice wine last year if memory serves, so the next one will probably not be for a while. The one great thing about ice wines for me is they tend to get better over time, just like winemakers and vineyard managers. So we are really pleased with the 2007, rich and well balanced. The last few years we have not left any grapes out for ice wine because of the supply of earlier vintages that we had.”
“I am glad we didn’t last year, as we didn’t ever get cold enough for us to freeze the grapes. We do it the old fashion way and let mother nature tell us when to harvest. It has to get down to around Zero degrees Fahrenheit over night, and we want it to stay below 18 the next day, otherwise the grapes start to thaw. They have a sugar level of around 35 brix.* So you can see the birds and the deer would have had quite a feast last year.”
You can try the Ice Wine at the Oliver tasting rooms–in fact the new shop on Bloomington’s courthouse square can set you up with cheese and crackers OR, better yet, try it with their Ricotta Cheesecake Brûlée–their recommended pairing. Scrumptious!
*A LOT of sugar!