Canada’s Beloved Icewine
In Ontario we produce 700,000 litres of icewine per year. One metric ton of frozen grapes yields 100 to 200 litres of juice. For table wine it is 700 litres. The freezing process drops water content and transforms the grapes flavours into a concentrated rich wine.
Ontario produces 75% of the worlds icewine because we have such great conditions. When you are drinking icewine you will commonly see Vidal, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. These grapes can withstand Canadas harsh winters better than most. However, if you are keen you can find Icewine of Gewurz, Chardonnay, and even Cab Sauv. Nets keep the hungry birds and wildlife away from the sweet nectar as the seasons change. After many years of perfection the VQA has stated that all Icewine must be processed at -8C or below to qualify as true Icewine. However, most wineries will wait a few periods of these cold temperatures for the grapes to go through a freeze and thaw cycle. This allows the sugars and acids to concentrate in the grape. When the temperature is suitable the grapes are all handpicked in the middle of night to ensure proper temperature. The rapid picking process ensures that the ice crystals in the grapes do not melt. Ice crystals are about 80% of the grape at this point. The grapes are pressed while frozen separating the devine nectar from the ice crystals. Typically you will find Tropical Fruits, Honey, Peaches, Jam, Carmalized Pear, Nuts and many more delicate flavours in your glass of icewine. The juice goes through a slow cool fermentation usually in stainless steel and then it is aged in stainless steel or oak to develop spice, caramel, and vanilla notes. Bright acidity, sweetness balanced with savoury flavours make up the perfect icewine.