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Holiday Gift Guide: Vin de Glace and Cidre de Glace

Icewines at Peller Estates

Icewines at Peller Estates

There are wine drinkers that will scoff at the idea of trying a sweet wine; however, at the proper time and place many wine enthusiasts enjoy dessert wines. A category of dessert wines is vin de glace or Icewine. Icewines are made with grapes left in the vineyard until the temperature reaches -8º Celsius (17.6º F) or lower. That usually means that the grapes are left on the vines while temperature freeze above -8º C and thaw, freeze and thaw over and over during the late autumn and early winter. When the temperatures reach the critical temperature the grapes are harvested and pressed also in sub-freezing conditions. The precious drop or two of juice per grape is fermented and an Icewine is made. Icewines are made in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. In some years they are also made in Ohio and New York and a few other states. What is often done in the United States is to harvest grapes and place them in a freezer. This cryogenic method does not benefit from the constant freezing and thawing that mother nature provides. Wines made cryogenically are not called icewines.

Quebec poses another challenge. With the cold temperatures come snow, a lot of snow. Often covering the vineyard and grapes. To compensate for the deep snow, vineyard workers will harvest the grapes and hang in nets above the vines. The grapes have the same influence as those left attached to the vines. The opponents to this approach argue that in order to be a true Icewine the grapes must remain attached to the vine in order to benefit from the vine. The proponents argue that once the vine shuts down, there is no benefit from being attached to the vine. The benefit is what mother nature does with the temperatures. Whatever method, Icewines are complex wines that are sweet and work very well as a dessert during the holiday season.

Some of our favorite producers are from Ontario. We have not had the opportunity to visit British Columbia yet. We enjoyed Icewines made from Vidal, Riesling and Cabernet Franc from these producers:
Peller Estates
Pillitteri Estates
Reif Estate

Ice Cider in Quebec at La Face Cachée de la Pomme

Ice Cider in Quebec at La Face Cachée de la Pomme

We also enjoyed Icewine or Vin de Glace while visiting producers in Quebec notably:
Vignoble Mondor
Chapelle Sainte Agnès
Domaine Les Brome
Domaine St. Jacques

While in Quebec we visited a few cideries that made a cidre de glace or ice cider. Apples are left out to freeze until their sugar content of a drop reaches a certain point. These ciders are not like ciders made with apples that are not frozen. They are a treat for wine enthusiasts. Producer we liked include:
La Face Cachée de la Pomme
Cidrerie Du Minot
Union Libre

While searching for holiday gifts for wine enthusiasts, consider an icewine or ice cider.


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