Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday #27: Ice Wine

In celebration of the election results, I'm participating in Wine Blogging Wednesday #27 hosted by Kitchen Chick. She chose a very appropriate theme to go along with all the desserts I've been baking lately, ice wine. Ice wine is wine made from grapes that are left on the vine to freeze. They are harvested and pressed while still frozen; resulting in a sublimely sweet wine perfect for light cheeses, desserts or to be served AS dessert. Riesling and Vidal Blanc are the most common grape used for ice wine. One other interesting fact about ice wine, it tends to be very expensive due to the strict conditions it can be made under and the limited nature of the grape availability.

Northern Michigan, home of my misspent youth, is uniquely situated geographically to produce outstanding ice wines, particularly the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas. The combination of the cold waters of Lake Michigan and the rolling hills of the peninsulas means that grapes, particularly Riesling grapes, have perfect growing conditions. When you add those legendary brutal and chilly winters with the lake effect snows you have the right conditions to make ice wine. I've sampled various bottles of ice wine from several vineyards but my two favourite are the Chateau Grand Traverse 2001 Johannisberg Riesling Ice Wine and the Black Star Farms 2002 A Capella Riesling Ice Wine.

For almost six months, a bottle of the Chateau Grand Traverse was in the back of our refrigerator. MBH would ask me, "when are you going to drink that?" To which I would reply, "I'm saving it for a very special occasion". A few weeks ago that occasion came, as I was having a rough time at work and I needed a pick me up. So, I opened the bottle and have doled out small glasses to myself as needed. The color was deep gold and the taste ever so sweet with a nice after finish of spice. It was perfect with the mellow French cheeses I'm fond of as well as creme brulee. When warmed up slightly, the wine takes on a smoked taste with a hint of peat and fruit.

The Black Star Farm A Capella was opened last night. I had made a tiramisu from the Bon Appetit cookbook to take to work tomorrow (I TOLD you was making lots of desserts). I had a little too many ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese left over and made myself a little personal tiramisu. I wanted something sweet but light to drink with it and remembered I had a bottle of the A Capella hiding on the wine cart. I chilled it slightly and poured an ever so small glass. It was pure heaven. The apricot and peach taste was a light counterpoint to the espresso and cheese taste of the tiramisu. Every time I brought the glass to my nose I could smell tropical flowers. I let the wine warm up while I was cleaning the dishes up and finished the night with one last sip. I went to bed with the taste of spice and summer on my lips.

I sure hope there is good blizzard or two in Northern Michigan this year because come next summer, I'm going to be in the market for a few more bottles of ice wine.