Ice Wine is a very sweet and expensive wine. One of the famous regions for making Ice Wine is Canada. A few years ago on a trip to Niagara Falls we visited the wineries of Lake Niagara. It was here were I was educated on Ice Wine.
Specifically, Jackson Triggs Winery is where the education took place. The girl who was working with us on our tasting was also educating us on Ice Wine. We also visited Inniskillen where we received an education as well.
How Ice Wine is made/harvested. Well that can be a loaded question. True Ice Wine produced from grapes that are left on the vine long after harvest. They are handpicked once temperatures reach a certain level. Usually about 17 degrees. This usually happens in January and the grapes are harvested in the middle of the night. These grapes are then crushed, since they are frozen, just a few drops of sweet juice is extracted and ultimately fermented. Harvesting is decided on the evening of…and the phone chain goes to work. Harvesters show up for work around 10pm and work until just before dawn. Once the sun begins to rise, the grapes can no longer be harvested.
The best ice wines are the ones that retain natural acidity in the late harvests and are high in sugars. Riesling is one of the best varieties for ice wine. There are also some made with Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
I did taste a Cab Franc Ice Wine in Niagara and personally it reminded me of cough medicine I had when I was a kid. With that being said, I liked the cough medicine, the wine wasn’t bad. The Riesling Ice Wines weren’t bad at all. You have to remember, they are very sweet and syrupy.