Oh Icewine, how you are amazing in your velvety structure and and sweetness. Shame I became a type-1 diabetic this past year and have tried to avoid all things sugary, but Icewine gets a special treatment. This special nectar is the product that oftentimes Ontario is most known for. Not surprising when over 75% of all Eiswein produced in the world comes from Ontario. I’ve met so many people over the years who have told me they do not like the hard to make wine, “too sweet” or “overpriced” are typical responses. Both of these arguments are easily refuted, or maybe better put: dismissed enough to have the person try icewine again. The too sweet comment is easy enough: it is a sweet dessert wine, it is not meant to be drank in 6 or 9oz North American pours. It is meant to be enjoyed in smaller batches, often times paired with something savour or sweet. The “too expensive” conundrum is straightforward: the risk vs reward of the vineyards, paired with the small yield, means it has to be priced more than a style of wine that has 10-40x more yield and no guarantee of the correct conditions. Icewine is expensive, and will always be so. You need near perfect conditions to grow tasty fruity grapes then have them freeze correctly, before they rot, in order to be ready to craft a palatable wine. Beyond the low yield, just think of the labour costs associated with caring for, and harvesting icewine…
Lakeview Cellars, one of the wineries owned by Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd, was purchased by its parent in 2001 and remains one of its signature marquees. There is a big split on how these larger “conglomerates” affect a small wine region like Niagara. Some think they ruin the small cellar door community, others (of which I am aligned) feel there is a place for wineries and companies of all size, as long as they produce good quality wines. Niagara is one of the better hidden gem wine regions in the world, its small production and limited appeal (which is sad) means a great many smaller producers would simply operate with a reduced consumer base if not for some of these bigger producers bringing buyers in. This relationship is a perfect example of symbiosis in the market economy.
What about this wine? Well it is a Vidal Icewine. It is clean and icewiney! To explain: Vidal, a long forgotten varietal, is near perfect for frozen wine (growing not serving conditions); however it is also extremely predictable. It is clean to look at, clean on the palate and clean on the finish. This wine fits all of that to a “T”. The honey nose is typical for Vidal, this wine is heavy on honey. On first taste, the velvet structure is there, but is not intrusive. As the wine opens up you get a bunch of citrus notes, almost marmalade like. The finish is long but pleasant, with the sugars at a near perfect level. As I drank this, I felt that a nice fatty dessert would pair beautifully, even something as bold as a tiramisu. Overall this was a pleasant surprise for what is a low priced product. Where many bottles can run you $30-$50, this one at $21 was well priced and gives you a good expected drink.
The CWG subjective rating is 86 out of 100.