Ice wine is not exclusive to Canada with other Countries such as Austria and Germany producing some good ice wines and the name changes and In Germany ice wine is called Eiswein. That said Canada is the world’s leading producer of ice wine.
There are rules around ice wine for example in Austria the grapes must be frozen naturally and can not be harvested above -7°C.
The wine itself is super sweet and comes in a tall thin bottle either 200ml or 375ml not dissimilar to grappa from Italy as usually sweet wines are drunk in less quantity and perfect for that after dinner sweetness. If you compare the price of an ice wine per ml against normal wines you will be in for a shock as they are quite a bit higher in price due to the lower yield based from the way that the product is made.
Like white wine ice wine needs to be served chilled and straight from the fridge and served in a small tulip-shaped glass and goes extremely well with a cheeseboard and fruity desserts.
Before we look at the best ice wine Canada lets first look at how it is made.
How is Ice wine made?
The grape bunches are left on the vine long after the traditional harvest season is finished assuming that the likes of bears or birds help themselves to the spoils.
When the temperature drops, and autumn arrives the grapes start to shrivel up and then they freeze. The grapes are then picked before dawn at -10C however the wine grape is frozen at this stage and must be pressed before they start to thaw. The grape when pressed at this stage produces concentrated juice which is rich in flavor and high in sugar and acidity therefore perfect for a sweet dessert wine.
Production of Ice Wine in Canada
Canada is the leading producer of ice wine worldwide and a good part of that is due to the cold winters in the Country which guarantees that the conditions will be right for the producing of ice wine which can’t be said for other competing Countries such as Germany.
Canada produces not far off 1 million liters per year most of which comes from Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec produces relatively less ice wine in comparison.
The production of ice wine in Canada is regulated through Vinters Quality Alliance (VGA) with the logo a strict rule to be placed on every bottle that is produced.
There are rules and regulation as you would expect from the VQA and state that grapes must come from a recognized appellation in Canada and the grapes having a minimum amount of sugar content and of course the grapes to be frozen on the vine.
Regulations also state that the grapes must be from a vitis vinifera variety such as cabernet franc or reisling or vidal which is a hybrid variety.
Most wine makers would agree that the main characteristics of a grape for making great ice wine must ripen late, have high acidity and be aromatic.
Popular Grapes for Ice Wine
Reisling is the most popular choice for ice wine brands due to high citrus and mineral characteristics and the high acidity. Cabernet franc is also a popular grape for ice wine which have flavors of herbs and strawberry which calm down the sweetness of the over wine, and vidal the hybrid grape is also a popular grape and have flavors of apricot and lychee.
Best Ice Wine Brands
The following is a list of some of the best Canadian ice wines available not shown in any particular order.
- Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine, Niagara, 200ml
- Henry of Pelham Riesling icewine, Niagara Peinsula, Ontario comes in 375ml
- Cave spring Riesling icewine, Ontario 375ml
- Magnotta vidal icewine 375ml (one of the most expensive ice wines from Niagara)
- Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2016, VQA Niagara Peninsula comes in 200ml
- Jackson-Triggs proprietor’s reserve vidal icewine
- Inniskillin Gold vidal 2017, Ontario, oak aged icewine 375ml
- Nk’ Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt, B.C. Riesling icewine 2016 375ml
- Inniskillin Estates 2011 / 2014 sparkling vidal icewine, Niagara Penninsula, Ontario comes in 375ml
- Wayne Gretzky No. 99 vidal 2017 icewine 375ml
- Lundry Valley Vidal 2016, Ontario, icewine, 375ml
- Stratus 2010 red icewine, Niagara Peninsula
- Peller estates signature series icewine, Ontario, Niagara, 375ml
- Pillitteri 2011 cabernet franc icewine, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario 200ml
- Kittling Ridge, Ontario, vidal icewine 375ml
- Kittling Ridge, Ontario, icewine and brandy 375ml
- Reif Estate Vidal Icewine 2007, VQA Niagara River
I hope that you enjoy tasting some of these wonderful icewines and why not leave your comments below as to which was your favorite.