Cabernet Franc Grapes at the Henry of Pelham vineyard (from

The Terroirist - Icewine Invasion

Third in a continuing series.

Alright - if you're a fan of reasonably priced, smooth, easy-drinking reds, you're excused from reading the terrorist for the next hour; go out and pick up some bottles of the Condesa De Leganza Reserva 1995 (La Mancha, Spain, $13.95, #658450), it probably won't stay on shelves very long. Light bodied, with loads of blueberry, peach, and violets.

Back now? Good. In anticipation of the holiday season, Vintages seems to be gearing up their selection of Icewine, that sweet, viscous, world-renowned tipple that goes beautifully with anything from fruit tortes, to foie gras. Icewine is nearly unique to Canada (although the Germans do produce an Eiswein, which is similar, but not nearly as good) and relies on our harsh winters for it's nectar. When the temperature has dropped below -8 C for at least a half week, winemakers across Niagara come out at night to harvest frozen grapes. Pressing them while still iced, they produce only a trikle of extremely sweet juice. This becomes Icewine. While the wine is very sweet, the grapes do still keep their natural acidity, which allows the wine to come off as balanced. If you've not yet tried it, it's certainly a treat!

Something Red:
Heredade Do Perdigao, Vinha Do Almo 2003 (Alentejano, Portugal) $17.95, 677773
A bright cherry red colour as I poured this wine into my glass, with nice legs to boot. A nose firstly of liquorice, with tones of plums and dark berries following it up. Past my lips, it expanded, filling my mouth with a heavy weighty wine - easily able to overcome even rare red meats. Flavours of Blueberry, cassis and dried fruit finished it off. A great sipper alone, would also match well with churrascaria.

Something White
Chateau Lamonthe De Haux Blanc 2004 (Bordeaux, France) $12.95, 909341
I'll be honest with you: I generally am not a fan of white Bordeaux wines. Much of it is over-priced and under-flavoured. This one however, made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle is an exception to the rule. A fruitpunch of citrus, strawberry, gooseberry, and lemon on the nose, the palate fared much the same. Surprisingly robust for a white wine, with crisp acidity. This would make an excellent food wine, and could go nicely with coq au vin or other chicken dishes.

Two things to dream about
Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Icewine 2004 (Niagara Peninsula) $39.95 (200mL), 672402
Chateau des Charmes Riesling Icewine 2001 (Niagara Peninsula) $59.95 (375mL), 413724
I know, I really should only stick to one wine per catagory, but with these two, it was impossible to decide. Both excellent, but both very different. The Pelham is an unusual animal - a red Icewine, which is a relatively new innovation, and well worth it. Full of cherry, strawberry, grass, orange, and cranberry, it would be ideal with a berry topped cheesecake. The Charmes is a much more standard Riesling Icewine, with a gorgeous petrolly nose, alone with delightful lime, pear, and minerality. Would be a perfect match for a foie gras inspired apperitif.

Happy drinking!

The Terroirist is published fortnightly on Thursdays.

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