Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WBW 27 - Icewine

And now we continue the experiment that Lenn of Lenndevours began in 2004 - what happens when a bunch of bloggers form a tasting community once a month, sharing their experiences with a certain type of wine? So far, fun, "meeting" new folks and checking out their blogs, learning, and in my case, tasting wine I have never tried.

The Kitchen Chick is our host this month and she loves Icewine! I had never tasted a real ice wine (make sure to check out Kitchen Chick's great link that explains Icewine in detail), so I was pretty psyched to participate. And Kitchen Chick lives in or spends a lot or time in Ann Arbor, which is my college town, so I ahave an affinity for her even though we've never met...

First thing I learned is that Ice Wine is expensive! I’ve had my eyes open for the past few weeks and I saw nothing under about $30 for 375ml, and many of those were made from grapes frozen after they were picked. Dessert wine is costly in general, yes, but when sampling a new type of wine there are usually lower priced versions to begin with, for example, there are $12 half bottles of Sauternes or Barsac that allow the taster to decide whether or not to continue trying that type of wine.

I found only "freezer frozen" Ice Wines at entry level prices, and I just can’t bring myself to purchase 375ml of wine I have never tasted for $40. So I instead visited Vintage New York, a wine store that allows you to taste 5 wines for $10. They currently offer two real Ice Wines, and another wine that is Ice Wine style, all from the Finger Lakes region of New York. The dude pouring the wines agreed to help me to taste them blind so I could experience them without bias.

My notes:

Wine #1 - Honey gold color, lighter thatn the others. Appealing and mouth watering ripe pineapple smells. First impression on the palate is of vibrant acidity. Bright citrus fruit with some tropical notes of pineapple, and oddly, some cedar. A lingering finish of sweet pineapple. I liked this wine very much. I wanted to eat creme brulee with it.

Wine #2 - Golden caramel color with some orange hues. Completely different nose compares to wine #1 - no pineapple. Smells of flowers, orange peel, some vanilla, and rainwater. Great acidity, well balanced, thicker texture than wine #1, with floral and citrus flavors. This wine was powerfully flavored and textured, but somehow more delicate than the first wine. My favorite wine in the tasting. I wanted to eat a second creme brulee, possibly a pineapple creme brulee.

Wine #3 - Golden orange color. Nothing at all on the nose - I could not get anything even with vigorous swirling (tossing and flipping almost). Sweet dried fig flavors that are almost cloying and the thickest texture of the three wines. My least preferred of the three (and I guessed it was the only one that was opened right before my tasting - the others were opened the previous day).

Here are the wines:

Wine #1 - 2005 Hunt Country Vidal Ice Wine 375 ml, $40 (opened before the tasting)
Wine #2 - 2005 Casa Larga Fiori Delle Stelle Vidal Ice Wine 375 ml, $40
Wine #3 - 2004 Standing Stone Vidal Ice Wine 375ml, $27 (the "fake" Icewine)

I guess there is something to letting the grapes freeze on the vines. The Standing Stone wine is well regarded too, but it just didn't compare with the other two. Thanks again to Kitchen Chick for inspiring me to try these interesting wines, and go blue!


Dr. Debs said...

Neil, it was great to read your reviews and get your flavor impressions. Pineapple was the surprise for me in my ice wine, and I'm glad to see I'm not alone in tasting it in this kind of wine.

Brooklynguy said...

I felt the same way reading you review - I'm not the only one who got pineapple...good. Have you done many blind tastings? it was really a learning experience, and humbling.

Sam said...

thats a great way to taste the ice wines.
I was out for dinner last night and they had the icewine I chose for WBW on the menu at $28 a glass. And there I was thinking the $79.99 for a half bottle was over the top!

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Sam (and is this THE Sam, of Becks & Posh?),

I wish more restaurants had high end wine by the glass. They can't really offer it by the glass without charging such a high markup, though, right? WHat if you are the only one who pays that $28, and then the bottle sits there for 2 weeks, and becomes undrinkable...

thanks for your comments, and I thoroughly enjoy your blog, if its you...

Sam said...

you are right - good point. When i bought it in the wine shop they told me it had to be drunken straight away preferably, or within a day at the most. So they could lose money - you are right, except I am sure the staff wouldnt mind drinking up the leftovers ;)

My dad always used to have a par-finished bottled of dessert wine in the fridge when I was growing up so I am used to thinking it is a keeper. Now I am older I know full well that wine is best imbibed once opened...

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I thought you'd like to know that there is an upcoming event on the science of wine - how scientists are helping winegrowers cope with global warming and help them achieve greater quantities of Pinot Noir.

Here's the info:

EVENT: The Science of Wine with wine expert Dr. James Kennedy of Oregon State University.

DATE: December 11, 6 p.m.

PLACE: New York Academy of Sciences at 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street,40th floor, New York, NY.

COST: $25 for general public, including a wine tasting

You can find more information on the company's web site:

Happy drinking!

Brooklynguy said...

I will definitely be there - thank you so much for letting me know. Sounds interesting...and if they're tasting...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for particiating in WBW #27! What a nice way to taste ice wines. When I've gotten to taste samples, it's been at the wineries themselves, which doesn't allow for side-by-side comparison across different wineries.

I get to the Niagara region fairly regularly, but I've never been to the Finger Lakes region. I've heard it's gorgeous up there.

Well, with some great skill and a bit of luck our team will win the Rose Bowl tomorrow. Happy New Year!

(It's taken me a while, but I'm finally revisiting everyone from WBW #27 and re-reading all the posts a second time.)