My little town, Niagara-on-the-lake,
is in the heart of Ontario's wine country.
One thing that we make extremely well here
is Ice Wine.
If you have never tried it, it's an intensely-flavoured dessert wine harvested mostly at night after three consecutive days of well-below freezing temperatures.
The grapes have to remain on the vine until these cold temperatures occur; a risky process because the grapes can be eaten by animals or birds, or rot on the vine.
When the freezing occurs, it concentrates the sugars in the grape resulting in the intense flavours.
A good Ice Wine should taste beautiful and smooth and not-too-sweet.
You drink small quantities of this wine, not whacking-great glass-fulls.
You sip slowly and lovingly. It's a real treat.
This weekend, we celebrated this delicacy with a full-on festival.
It was freezing...no seriously, -20C, unbelievably cold.
But there we crazy Canadians all were (with a few crazy Americans and
Europeans thrown in for good measure).
Yup...that 'cocktail table' is pure ice.
We even had an ice baby-grand.
A couple of the vineyards that have stellar restaurants provided
delicious food also (I just wanted to eat to hold the warm food in my hands).
Someone roasted a sixty-pound pig in the box underneath these coals!
Just another reason to love living in this little town!
We are now home, watching the football game(s), thawing out, beef stew in the oven
with a little Ice Wine for dessert.
2009 CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE - $35.10
Picked on the extremely cold night of January 4, 2010 at a temperature of -12°C, and pressed through to the following day. The result was a sweet, honey-like nectar of over 40% sugar content. The wine was fermented cool and slow in stainless steel over several weeks.
The characteristic red berries become super abundant on the nose and palate. Strawberries and raspberrys combine with a sumptuous candied apple flavour. Crisp acidity is on hand to meet the rich sweetness of this decadent wine. Masterfully balanced and exceptional paired with seared duck breast with black currant sauce.
Only available in Ontario (for now).
Then there was the whole lesson on wine-making I received from
Southbrook Vineyards a bio-dynamic winery,
(they use goats!),
but I will save that for another day.