With the new year comes one of Canada’s most celebrated seasons. As the temperatures drop (and they will drop!) winemakers across Southern Ontario are making preparations for one of the most laborious harvests of the year.
Made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine, Icewine is our most celebrated export. It’s sweet, luscious and perfect for a celebration. You see, the sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape flavour — and a whole lot more sugar.
Don’t be fooled though — Icewine shouldn’t be syrupy sweet. Unlike the grapes from which other dessert wines are made, such as Sauternes or Tokaji, ice wine grapes should not be affected by noble rot. Only healthy grapes keep in good shape for the frost after all. This gives ice wine its characteristic refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity.
You can find Icewine at many of the wineries in the Niagara region, but also in your local Vintages store. Here are a few of our favorites.
Inniskillin Vidal Icewine
This is the Maurice “The Rocket” Richard of the icewine world. For decades, Inniskillin has led the charge in icewine production. Their vidal icewine has taken home numerous awards. Visiting the winery during icewine season is an adventure in and of itself. There are fires and marshmellows and many, many glasses of wine.
Pairs with: duck liver, apricots, strong cheeses. We’re thinking a cheese board for the win!
Peller Estates Private Reserve Icewine
This special little number tastes just like Niagara. It’s full of peaches and honey and that warm feeling you get when the breeze blows through the orchards on the peninsula. The key to this wine is serving it with something sweeter!
Pairs with: Creme brulee or Bread Pudding
Southbrook Vineyards Cabernet Franc Icewine
This is a really unique and beautiful wine. Rosey hued unlike our other picks, it’s got distinct earthy notes — think candied beets — but also strawberry jam and rhubarb. Like early spring in a glass. Southbrook is making Ontario’s only organic and biodynamic icewines, and they’re fantastic.
Pairs with: Chocolate. Who knew!