Temperatures in Germany have been exceptionally low this December and it has enabled many winemakers to harvest grapes for ice wine, Germany’s fabled treasure. I have written about ice wine in the past (here) but there is no way to better understand what makes this wine so special than actually seeing under what conditions the grapes are harvested and then processed. I came across this video by the Rheingau winery Schloss Vollrads (Germany’s oldest continuing winery, see here) yesterday and I was just completely in awe once again about what these harvesters go through to produce tiny quantities of absolute deliciousness.
Maybe this will help you understand what the myth surrounding German ice wine is. Remember, in order to harvest ice wine it has to be below -7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit). In the middle, the guy is talking about how they initially planned to harvest the grapes before sunrise, because it is coldest then. But they had to move it up to midnight because weather forecasts predicted some warm air coming in in the morning. The juice has 195 degrees Oechsle, way above the 110-125 degree threshold it needed to meet.
UPDATE: I just saw photos from the ice wine harvest by Dr. Hermann winery. They expect 200 liters (under 600 bottles) and are really excited that they got to harvest on 12/12/12.
Ice wines are excellent dessert wines
True. They’re also great with cheese, if you don’t consider cheese a dessert.
[…] Update 12/12/2012: Check out the video of an ice wine harvest here! […]
So muss es sein! I love that expression. An american might say, “that’s the way an ice wine ought to be,” but a german understands “that’s the way an ice wine has to be.” You must pick the grapes even if you’re miserably cold, you must stay up all night to make the wine. Even the smallest compromise (which would probably result in a good-enough, but not the very best wine) is simply not an option. You have to do your best.
Yup. You nailed it. Genau so muss es sein. :) Makes me crave an ice wine right now, but I have none stored…:(
We were having a discussion about ice wine on Sunday eve (we’ll actually more like a weighing in of who had tasted it and who liked/disliked it. One woman said she hated the stuff. I can only imagine that she’s had a bad American version.
We bought a case of Wiemar (Finger Lakes region) ice wine, 2002 if memory is correct, made from Chard. It was memorable. I crave it now, but it’s gone.
People always think ice wine is insanely sweet. To a degree, that is true because it has insanely high residual sugar levels. But the cool thing is that with the right grapes, especially riesling, they also have a ton of acidity which balances the sweetness and makes them so unique. There is nothing in the world like it. A glass of it is enough. That is the other beauty about them: You just have to share them despite them coming in demi bottles only.
In the German news they said a few days ago that this year’s ice-wine harvest was one of the best of the last decades. Really looking forward to try ice-wine next year
From what I hear from vintners they are really satisfied with the quality of the grapes. It helped that they were able to harvest ice wine early and that the grapes did not have to be out for another month or two. These wines should be awesome in 20 years+. :)
I forgot that ice wine usually ages for a long time.. Just remembered that the last ice-wine that I tried was from the 1994 vintage..
They are totally crazy in the early years. The sugar seems to burn your tongue while the racing acidity settles in the cracks created by the burns…it is weird, but exciting. The true beauty only shows late.