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Jun 1, 2008 11:53 PM

Ice wine tasting

does anyone know if there any wineries in the Napa area that include ice wine in their wine tasting?

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  1. You'll be out of luck. icewine is a Canadian (and german of course) thing and is mostly done in the Niagara Peninsula, in Ontario. A few wineries in Quebec and B.C. also do it. To make icewine, you need the grape to freeze which does not happen in California. The closest you'll find, and it's still pretty far from icewine, is late harvest which is a semi-sweet wine as opposed to a sweet wine in the case of icewine.

    And being a regular visitor of the Niagara region, IMHO icewine is a tad overrated. Yes it'S good, but it's also very sweet and sometimes cloying. It's all a matter of taste I guess.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Campofiorin

      To be fair, New York State is also a significant player in ice wines, with the Finger Lakes region wineries becoming increasingly prominent particpants. I'll agree, it's definitely for those with a sweet tooth, and best relegated to dessert wine roles.

      Unfortunately, Ice wine is not to wine what Eisbier is to beer :-(

    2. Folie a Deux used to make a "vin de glace," which was a *forced* ice wine -- essentially, they would freeze the grapes to recreate what the Canadians and Germans get naturally. Unsure if they still produce it but I actually enjoyed it.

      1 Reply
      1. Bonny Doon used to make a "vin de glaciere" but I think they dropped it.

        There are lots of late-harvest wines around but wineries don't often include them in their tastings.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          But how often are they subjected to hard freezes?

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Almost never except when the winemakers put the grapes in the freezer, as Bonny Doon did (does?) with their "vin de glaciere."

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yeh, as far as I'm aware, Eiswein-type "stickies" just don't happen around these parts, except by "cheating" like Bonny Doon's methods. If you look around, there's plenty of late-harvest, Beerenauslese or even Trockenbeerenauslese-type wines being made in Napa and Sonoma Valley wineries, but the way those grapes achieve their requisite concentration of sugars aren't going to be via the frozen-on-the-vine route that Eisweinen take to get there, and the resulting wines tend to have a fairly different character as a consequence. Not worse, necessarily, but certainly different.

              1. re: Spatlese

                Yes, there are plenty of botrytis-affected wines around. Many posts about them on the Wine Board.

                Napa and Sonoma don't need to use cryo techniques (artifical freezing) because the increased concentration and sweetness can come a later harvest and botrytis.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  But the big difference is flavor profile will be the acid balance. Waiting for further ripening to concentrate sugars is accompanied by a big drop in acidity for late harvest wines. Botrytis introduces more oxidation due to breakdown of the grape skins. Typically made with healthy albeit frozen fruit, ice wine will have a "cleaner", lighter fruit taste than botrytis, late harvest fruit, and shrieking acidity as the acids concentrate with everything else when the water is removed by freezing.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I look at ice wines and botrytis-affected late-harvest wines as two entirely different animals.

                    Usually, ice wines are grown in northern latiitudes, where the grapes don't ripen as much as in southern latitudes, and the grapes are subjected to a freeze (ice). That style can also be replicated in southern latitudes using cryo technology to freeze the grapes.

                    The resulting wine is, as you say: lighter, cleaner, and with a refreshing amount of acid.

                    When a late-harvest wine is grown, yes, the acid levels drop when the sugar levels go up. But when the grape is affected by botrytis or noble rot, the botrytis tself creates a small amount of acid, restoring a bit of what was lost by high sugar levels.

                    Furthermore, the winemaker almost always adds tartaric acid (less frequently malic or lactic acid) back to the wine to make sure the sugar and acid are in balance and the wine, in spite of all that sugar, is still refreshing and palate-cleansing. Occasionally, the winemaker doesn't re-adjust the acid, and the result is a botrytised dessert wine that is flat, cloying and unappealing. But I'd wager that the acid levels of both ice wine and a balanced botrytised wine are rather similar, though in the case of the ice wine, the acid seems higher because the sugar is lower.

                    In any case, Melanie, it's always a pleasure to banter about wine with you, and I deeply respect your opinion and body of wine knowledge.

        2. I'm wondering if anyone makes ice wine popsicles, and, if so, who sells them in the South Bay.

          5 Replies
            1. re: Janko

              Freezing wine, as for popsicles, doesn't work. Have you ever frozen wine accidentally in the freezer when you tried to chill it quickly? Did you taste it? Yuck!

              1. re: maria lorraine

                You can make really good Champagne sorbet, though. Mix 50/50 champagne with simple syrup and either freeze in a cookie sheet (running the tines of a fork through every 10 or 15 minutes for a chunky, icy effect), or making it in a standard ice cream maker.

                I have used Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label for a great palate-cleanser on high-end catering jobs.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Wine Granitas and Sorbets are "widely" available. I clearly remember the first I had, a zinfindel sorbet at chez pannisse upstairs, probably about '93. Yum.

                  (Yes, of course I agree, you can't make Popsicles simply by freezing wine, but there must be ways)

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    But if you defrost them all the way to proper serving temperature for fluid wine, some wines taste just fine. Freezing is a good way to preserve wine for future drinking.