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Oxford Companion to Wine
ice wine vs. Icewine

We were browsing through some wine-blogs (there are tons of great ones by the way, check out Dr. Vino and VineSugar for starters,) and came across this article about Icewine on the Caveman‘s Wine Blog. We aren’t wine gurus by any means, but the concept of using cold weather to produce wine piqued our interest and we wanted to learn more. Here is what The Oxford Companion To Wine, 3E has to say about ice wine and Icewine, and yes, they are different.

ice wine, direct Anglicization of the German Eiswein, sweet wine made from ripe grapes picked when frozen on the vine and pressed so that water crystals remain in the press and the sugar content of the resulting wine is increased.

This sort of true ice wine is a specialty of Canada, where it is written Icewine. It is also increasingly made elsewhere including Austria, Luxembourg, Oregon, and Michigan in the United States. The term has also been used in other English-speaking, wine-producing countries for wines made by artificial freeze Concentration, or cryoextraction.

Icewine, made in British Columbia, Québec, and particularly Ontario, is Canada‘s version of Eiswein and the crown jewel of its wine industry. In 1993, 72,000 half-litre bottles of Icewine were produced but by 2004 annual production had grown to more than 800,000 half-litre bottles, routinely retailing at more than C$50 each. The word Icewine has been trademarked by VQA Canada which imposes the world’s most stringent standards on the production of Ice Wine. In Ontario, grapes for Icewine must have reached temperatures as low as -8ºC/18ºF before being harvested (as for Germany’s Eiswein) but sugar levels must reach at least 35º Brix, considerably higher than the minimum requirements in Germany and Austria. From the 1997 vintage, all grapes used for VQA Icewine had to be processed by VQA member wineries or Ontario grape growers who have registered as VQA processors, and strict monitoring systems are in place. All Icewine must be Varietal and made from Vinifera grapes or the French hybrid Vidal. Grapes must be grown and pressed within a recognized Viticultural Area. Residual sugar at bottling must be at least 125g/l. No Sweet Reserve may be added.


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