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Dec 4, 2006 05:41 AM

ISO good ice wine at trader joes

so unless i go to a specialty wine store it's pretty hard to find them at the grocery store, liquor barn et. al.

so i saw a few at trader joes tonight. There were a few from Germany but most of them looked really dusty like they had been sitting unpurchased forever. There was one Canadian ice wine from SawMill Creek. Has anyone purchased an ice wine from Trader Joes? Would you care to recommend one or somewhere else to find them more readily?

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  1. There is no such thing as a "good" inexpensive icewine. They just cost too much to produce. That said, there are passable late harvest wines, but I'm not familiar with what is sold at Trader Joe's as TJ is not permitted to sell wine here in MD.

    However, icewine ages well, very well, so what was available might still be good if it wasn't heat damaged. If it is cheap, it couldn't hurt to try it and find out.

    I think you will have to look elsewhere if you want to find good icewine, even in the $20 range. Try the Jackson-Triggs Vidal Niagara Peninsula Icewine Proprietors' Reserve or some of the icewines coming from New Zealand like Selaks. You might also find a Tokaji in that range that is good.

    10 Replies
    1. re: dinwiddie

      Actually, I have come across *one* GOOD inexpensive ice wine. That would be Kiona from Washington. We purchased bottles for under $20 (a rarity when most are around $60+) and it was so fabulous, we bought three cases of their 2002. Their later years were not as good, but they aged well. Don't know that Kiona would ever be selling at Trader Joe's but we have seen it selling at up-scale grocery stores in Washington.

      1. re: Luthien

        Umm - Kiona icewines AREN'T!
        They're what is known as 'freezer wines'. The juice is frozen after being pressed then the ice is discarded (as opposed to pressing frozen grapes). Eventually this will be outlawed.

        1. re: estufarian

          Where are you getting your information from? It says specifically on the site that they pick the grapes frozen on the vine. They said the same thing when I stopped by their winery and that they pressed the frozen grapes as well. They've been featured in various wine magazines as well so I'd like to know if there is other information out there contradicting what I've read and heard.

          1. re: Luthien

            From a wine writer and judge who visited Kiona AFTER I bought the icewine and specifically asked about it (on my behalf).

            I followed up and found this in the Seattle Times:
            "True ice wines are rare indeed. In Canada, Germany and Austria, ice wine (or eiswein) is strictly regulated. There are standards for sugar levels and temperatures at harvest, and other regulations regarding the actual pressing of the grapes. Here in the U.S. some producers still use cryoextraction to freeze and press ordinary late-harvest grapes, so an ice wine may not always be the real McCoy. Look for some indication on any non-Canadian ice wine that suggests that the grapes were actually picked and crushed at below-freezing temperatures. "

            I have also been able to confirm that the Kiona 2004 and 2005 were ‘true’ icewines.
            My bottle was from 1994 - and no specific indication on the bottle about frozen on the vine. But too old to find any specific info now.

            1. re: estufarian

              I might be making this up, but I'm pretty sure I remember that early on in the establishment of the (still young) Canadian ice wine industry, cryoextraction was not allowed but the norm.

              I haven't taste one in quite some time but 10 years ago, frankly, I never understood what the fuss was - I vastly preferred their German archetype which was also cheaper for similar quality level, ironically enough. (At least back then!)

              1. re: MikeG

                Make that "not ONLY allowed but"

                1. re: MikeG

                  I have had a cryo icewine from Canada. But only once. Certainly from the early 80's (the Inniskillin 84 IIRC) the icewines were all 'genuine' - made from grapes frozen on the vine. Most of the winemakers then were German (or Austrian) immigrants and they were following their heritage. And as soon as the 'Icewine' (as opposed to Eiswein) rules were put in place, the cryo option was outlawed.
                  Having said that I agree totally with the comment that the German versions were both superior and cheaper. But recent German bottlings have been superb (but much more expensive than even Canadian) mixed with some 'almost generic' Eisweins (no vineyard designations for the most part) being cheap and nasty.

                  And there are differences between Eiswein and Icewine. The Teutonic version tends to be purer flavours. In Canada, there's no market for botrytised wines so the botrytised grapes go in with the frozen grapes.This gives a 'honey' character to the Canadian version - almost a different style reminiscent of a TBA (probably more accurately a BA).

          2. re: estufarian

            Oh, and I completely agree that a freezer wine shouldn't be allowed to be labeled as an ice wine. I still wouldn't mind drinking one (they make one somewhere in the Napa/Sonoma region close to me and are upfront about it), but I would rather it be labeled properly.

            1. re: Luthien

              Bonny Doon makes a "Vin Glaciere" that's a freezer wine - not aware of anything in Napa/Sonoma though.

              1. re: estufarian

                I think luthien may be remembering the Beringer Nightingale which was a lab-created _late harvest_ (i.e. artificially innoculated with botrytis), not a fake ice wine. Nightingale is quite surprisingly good (who'd have thought Beringer would make anything worth drinking?), but not an ice wine or fake ice wine.

      2. Andrew Rich Gewurztraminer Ice wine is also exceptional and should be available at a good wine shop, probably not at TJs though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: somervilleGM

          It's not really ice wine, it's called vin de glacier (a tongue in cheek name translating as "ice box wine"). The grapes are artificially frozen, thereby decreasing the cost of production.

          It's a fine dessert wine, and great for the price ($15-20, I believe). I'm giving a few bottles away to people who like ice wine but are otherwise not into wine at all. AG "ice wine" is very one note in flavor and quite sweet, not light and complex the way Inniskillin is.

        2. shouldn't the ice wine from canada be "real" ice wine i thought all ice wine in canada had to be the non-freezer variety. i think it was around 25-30$.

          1. if it's from canada, there are very strict laws about our icewines, and freezing them in an icebox is totally verboten. In fact, it has to be specifically colder than -8 degrees celcius in order to pick the grapes at all. In general, vidal icewines are much less expensive than riesling because the grape is not as complex and sometimes vidal icewine can be a bit cloying. But by all means, have with dessert (something like a peach crumble would be delicious) or as dessert.

            6 Replies
            1. re: estestest

              i went touring the niagara falls area wineries, and they said that they have alarm clocks hooked up to thermometeres, so when the temps hit that spot, the alarms sound and they have to rush out to pick the grapes in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold. what a job!!!!

              i can say that all the bottles i brought back from canada were FAR superior to any bottle i've ever bought at local stores in the states.

              unfortunately cannot remember the name of a one of the wineries i visited!

              1. re: rabidog

                Pellar is an exceptional winery up there. I haven't yet found a way to import them where I'm at.

                1. re: Luthien

                  Amen to that.

                  My cousin bought me a gift three pack of 200ml bottles of ice wines from Peller last summer from a duty free shop in Vancouver. I don't remember the vintage, I think 2004. I absolutely loved them.

                  One was a white that I don't remember, either riesling or chardonnay. Very good. The vidal was exceptional. But the real gem was the cabernet franc. It was rich, complex, with scents that ranged from raspberries to fresh herbs to cacao and vanilla. It could have gone with anything from ice cream to roast duck.

                  The best icewine I've had. I would love to find it here in NY.

                  1. re: mengathon

                    I had a colleague get me what was probably the very same 3-pack. :) They're really good, but Peller's _Okanagan_ ice wines, and in particular a wine called "Dark Horse" (a blend of several varietals; riesling, welschriesling and ehrenfehlser, I think?) was absolutely stunning. It may be the best ice wine I've ever tried.

                    1. re: mavjop

                      Thanks Mav, I didn't know Peller had a winery in Okanagan; I had thought they were exclusively in Niagara. I'll have to beg my cousin to visit them when she goes winery hopping next time. Any specific vintage I should have her look for?

                      1. re: mengathon

                        I don't recall what vintage. I would guess that anything from Peller Okanagan is likely to be rather tasty, especially if it says "Dark Horse" on the label! :-)

                        We attended the Okanagan Ice Wine Festival in January 2005, so it was whatever vintage had recently(?) been released at that time. Presumably a 2004 or 2003.

                        I'd risk buying anything of theirs to try it, though. :)

            2. Our first exp. with ice wine was in Quebec City we left with several bottles around the 20-30 price range, only to find them at home for 60.00!

              We tried an ice wine from Whole Foods wine store for 40.00 and didn't feel it was the same exp.

              Just have to visit QC more often!