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18 August 2012 / leggypeggy

Icewine—a new taste sensation

Icewine in the middle with other Peller products.

Ever heard of a rare dessert wine called Icewine? Neither had I.

As far as I can tell, this delicacy is made only on Canada’s Niagara Peninsula.

According to the fellow from Peller Estates Winery, which offered tastings at the St Lawrence Market in Toronto, some strict requirements must be met to create an authentic Icewine.

For starters, summer has to be warm enough to grow fine wine grapes. Then winter has to be cold enough (–10°C or colder) for at least five days in a row (but never so cold that the vines die).

The grapes must freeze on the vine and then be hand-picked in the middle of the night by people wearing fingerless gloves. (Sounds like we should be adding eye of newt!)

The frozen grapes are pressed immediately after picking, and each grape yields only a drop of intensely flavourful juice.

The fellow said it takes the same amount of grapes to make a case of table wine as it does to make a single 200-ml bottle of Icewine.

Apparently the hallmark of a good Icewine is a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. Peller must be getting it right. They’ve won gold medals and trophies at leading wine competitions in France, Belgium, Austria and America.

Peller makes four varieties—Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Oak Aged. I tasted the latter and it really was sensational. Truly worth all the hype and mumbo-jumbo, and I’m not a fan of sweet wines.

I resisted buying a 200-ml bottle for about $40. Not because it wasn’t worth it, but because I couldn’t fit it in my backpack.

It’s amazing stuff. Try it AND buy it if you ever have the chance. You can even invite me over and share it.

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