How do the winemakers highlight the grapes that went through the first winter frost? They turn them into ice wine, a sweet and aromatic liquor which, like the strong essences, is kept in small bottles.
Ice wine can be obtained only in special conditions of cold climate, so the production can be quite risky. On one side, it is possible for the grapes to rot before the frost and thus they can no longer be useful, on the other side, it is necessary to have a large labor force available the collect the entire harvest at the right time. That is why, all over the wold, ice wine is produced only in small quantities and it is quite expensive.
Ice wine production is limited to wine regions where low temperatures are regularly reached. Canada and Germany are the world’s largest producers of such wines. About 75% of the world’s production comes from Canada.
A bit of history
There are clues that the Romans knew the ice wine. Pliny the Elder noted that certain grape varieties had not been harvested before the first frost, but we do not get more details about the wine making. A more accurate documentation, dating back in 1830, is for vintage from Dromersheim. The winter was tough and some wine growers left the grapes for the wild animals eat them. They have also noticed that these grapes could produce a very sweet must, which they later transformed into ice wine.
World’s ice wine production
The first commercially produced Canadian ice wine was released in Peachland, in 1978, and it is currently produced in all wine regions of the country. In Europe, the most famous is Eiswine produced in Germany, but one can also find it in countries such as Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark or Georgia. In the Furano region of Japan, ice wine is produced every year, but in such small quantities that is sold only at the winery. The US have released the first local ice wine produced in 1981 in the Finger Lakes region.
Typical grapes used for ice wine production are: Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Muscat Ottonel, Neuburger, Chardonnay or even Cabernet Sauvignon. Ice wine from white grape varieties tends to be pale yellow or light gold and can enbrown as it age.
The residual sugar content is between 180 g / l and 320 g / l.
Ice wine in Romania
The Lechinta vineyard meets the climate conditions for the production of this type of wine. Ice wine made by Lilac Winery in collaboration with Austria's Kracher producer is a blend of Neuburger and Pinot Gris.
Frozen grapes are harvested manually at a temperature of -13 ° C, at the beginning of December. The concentrated must obtained by pressing the frozen grapes delivers a low quantity of a very sweet wine. The wine is then fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks for 9 months on yeast. Thus follows a fresh golden-yellow wine, with a bouquet of field flowers, yellow fruit flavors such as apricots, peaches, and lychees. In terms of taste, it is fresh and vibrant, with pineapple notes and tropical fruits end. It can be served alongside apricot jam, crème brûlée, cheesecake, at a recommended temperature of 8° C.
Photos Liliac Winery