I just wrapped up, I hope, another article for Taste Cincinnati magazine – this time the topic was Icewine. As I was making phone calls and talking to people, I learned something. Cincinnati is seriously missing out. Folks, icewine is the best wine you’re not drinking. It’s a top seller up north, but around here it’s hard to come by.
It’s a catch-22 though. You’re not drinking it because it’s hard to find. But it’s hard to find because you’re not asking for it. So go ask the folks at your local wine store for some icewine. If it’s expensive, ask for Ohio ice wine. With Ohio icewine from vintners such as Firelands, Debonne, or St. Joseph, you’re getting Canadian quality at half the price. Remember, northern Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, has the same microclimate as Ontario, where most of the world’s icewine is made. Ohio icewine is winning international awards. So go ask for it!
That said, I’m about to talk about Canadian icewine. Kevin and I travel to Ontario, and Niagara-on-the-Lake, around once a year. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, year round. I think the Niagara Parkway, paralleling the Niagara River, is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I’ve been. I find the wineries extremely friendly and approachable, and until recently, affordable. (Of course, now the CA dollar and the US dollar have equaled out.) While we’re in Canada, we usually buy a slew of icewine and one of my favorites, gamay noir. (Photos from our 01/07 trip are here, and an overview of the trip is here.)
As I researched the article, I needed a little inspiration, so we broke out a bottle of Peller Estates 2004 Vidal icewine.
Icewine is fascinating, mostly for the process in which it is made. I go into it in detail in the article, so I’m not going to dive into it much here. But it’s interesting to note, as you’re sipping on icewine, that the grapes were probably picked in the dead of night at temperatures around 15 degrees F and then immediately pressed so as to not lose the chill. There’s a lot of love and labor that goes into this particular dessert wine.
The Peller icewine was light but sweet (of course). It wasn’t syrupy, but more palate cleansing with citrus notes. The acidity nicely balanced out the probable residual sugar of around 20. It was fresh like a sorbet, slightly lemony, with a lovely natural, fresh flavor.
Although we visited Peller, we purchased a chardonnay icewine on that visit. This is the more traditional Vidal Blanc grape. I believe we actually picked up this bottle (it was only a 200 mL) at the Duty Free shop before crossing back over the bridge. If I’m not mistaken, it came in a 2-pack with a blueberry icewine we gave to my mother-in-law, who loves her blueberry wine.
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