The Holidays are here and so is old man winter. While we are dealing with icy conditions on the outside, it would be fun to celebrate the Holidays with some ice on the inside – Ice Wine that is. Let’s explore this rich and luscious nectar.
It is believed Ice Wine got its start in Germany in 1794. German winemakers were already making late harvest (sweet dessert) wine, so this is a logical development. Grapes used to make these wines typically have little or no botrytis (nicknamed noble rot, that concentrates sugars in grapes, used to make German Late Harvest dessert wines and French Sauternes). These healthy grapes are left on the vine until the first deep frost. When frozen, the water inside the grape freezes and can be pressed out, concentrating the flavors and sugars of these grapes. The result is a concentrated and intense dessert wine, intended to be enjoyed in small portions.
Before the first deep frost, these grapes are super ripe and are an attractive source of food for birds. Flocks have been known to decimate vineyards in the late Fall, so some wineries use netting over their grapes to protect these crops.
Ice Wine is Canada’s claim to fame in the wine world. From the central Provence of Ontario through western British Columbia, these wines are made when old man winter’s icy grasp has literally frozen grapes still on the vine. Canada made its first this sweet dessert wine in 1972 in British Columbia, but today, 75% of Canadian Ice Wines are produced in the Ontario Provence. Quality wineries include Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs. Besides Canada and Germany, Austria, the U.S. and recently New Zealand also produce these sweet, magical elixirs.
Canadian Ice Wine is governed by the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), to ensure uniform product quality. A key issue is that these grapes must freeze naturally on the vine, and not be harvested and then frozen. The challenge is to allow the grapes to freeze, but not to reach extremely cold temperatures before harvesting. The optimal temperature for harvesting is 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sugar content reaches approximately 45%. These grapes are then picked by hand and crop yields can be understandably low. This makes the process difficult and adds to the cost of these highly prized wines.
The two commonly used grape varietals are Riesling (known for its acidity and mineral notes) and Vidal (known for flavors of honey, apricot and tangerine). Both varietals can stand up to this rugged process. After fermentation, the wine is barrel aged for months. Ice Wine has a golden amber color with intoxicating aromas of peach, apricot and mango. When a quality bottle is first opened, these aromas can actually fill the air with the aromas of peaches and apricots around a table. Given its rich, sweet character, these wines are usually enjoyed in small cordial glasses with 2 oz. pours.
Today’s wine comes from Carinena in the Aragon region of northeastern Spain. This wine carries the DO appellation; it is the first wine to be so honored in Aragon. The region itself has a long wine history dating back some 2300 years. In those days people often mixed their wine with honey. Unlike most of our reviewed wines, this one comes from a wine cooperative. The coop, Bodegas San Valero, was founded in 1945 uniting 60 growers. They are now up to about 700. The Viura grape, called Macabeo in France, is the most popular grape in northern Spain. It is found in Cava, a popular Spanish sparking wine. Traditionally this is not a prestigious grape but I just came across a review entitled Macabeo/Viura – the Cinderella Grape? from Jancis Robinson, one of the world’s leading wine reviewers. Exceptionally there will be no $10 review next week. It’s not a question of taking time off, I’ll be doing an upscale wine review and the companion wine came in at about $12. On the subject of upscale wines, I found an 1989 Viura/Malvasia (also not a prestigious grape) marked down to about $55. I won’t be tasting that wine unless the markdown process goes viral. Today’s companion wine is a moderately priced white from Apulia in southern Italy.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Castillo de Monseran Viura 2008 12.5% alcohol about $9
Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. “Tasting Note: Pale straw color, aromas of white peaches and flowers, dry, light bodied, delicate floral flavors and a crisp lemony finish. Serving Suggestion: Serve with seafood pasta dish.” And now for my review.
Our family gathers at least twice a year for a big sit-down dinner together. Last Thanksgiving, it was my wife’s and my turn to feed the clan, which added to 39 hungry individuals. By subtracting the kids and the beer drinkers, my task was to gather enough wine glasses for about 29 adults. After pulling our glass serving collection out of the cupboard, I counted 11-white wine, 7-red wine, 5-brandy snifter, 3-champagne and 2-pilsner beer glasses for a total of 28 glasses. The last person lucked out and received a small water glass to enjoy the wine. It is common for many of us in this situation to bring out a hybrid collection of glassware when we entertain large numbers.
When choosing wine glasses, WineDoctor.com has four basic rules to consider. Rule #1 is the glass should be plain and clear. Rule #2 is that the glass should be of sufficient size to allow pouring a good measure and at the same time allow room for the “swirling” process to release the aromas. Select a glass that has a stem for holding is Rule #3. The stem allows holding your wine glass without transferring heat to the bowl of the glass and consequently your wine. The final rule is that good wine glasses have a taper at the top, which is smaller than the bowl of the glass. This serves to concentrate the aromas towards the nose.
Some glassware companies have designed glassware for every kind of wine one might purchase. If one were to purchase their complete line of wine glasses for each individual wine, the next project we would undertake is remodeling of our glass storage cabinetry. Many website wine aficionados state we can get by quite well by selecting four basic designs for our wine glassware collection. Get different glassware designs to enjoy red, white, sparkling and dessert wines. The glassware you select should be thin as thick glasses are thought to affect the taste of the wine, making it more difficult to properly lip the glass for sipping.
Exhaustion and working mum are two words that tend to go hand in hand. They are typical partners and tend to be one of the most important that a working mum faces on a daily basis. Here you will find some of the main causes of exhaustion and how you can solve them.
1. The children’s bed time habits. Straight in at the top of the list, our little angels, whose sole purpose seems to be to drain us of any sanity by interrupting REM sleep at any given opportunity. There is no quick and easy fix for this one and this slope is a very slippery one, since in the wee small hours it is easy to acquiesce to any demand, just so they get back into bed. Understand that to address this problem it will get worse before it gets better, but when it does improve you’ll wish that you’d faced up to it sooner.
2. Your bed time habits. As a working mum, free time does not happen frequently and, when it does, the list of chores shouts loudly from the dark corners of the mind. After dinner has been cooked and the kids are in bed is the time many mothers who work choose to play catch up on their personal communications, work, or finishing the laundry that has been lurking in the bottom of the hamper for a few weeks.. Once this has all been completed, there is the need to wind down, watching TV or reading and before you know it, the clock is chiming midnight and the dark circles under the eyes rejoice at their deepened shade. Be as strict with yourself as you are with your kids, and if you’re a laid back parent when it comes to bedtimes, be stricter with yourself.