On November 30th, winegrowers in several German wine regions such as Nahe, Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Franken and Rheingau were able to successfully harvest frozen icewine grapes at freezing temperatures.
As the German Wine Institute (DWI) reports, this comparatively early date for an ice wine harvest is very beneficial for the wine quality, since the grapes for icewine production should be as healthy as possible. (video)
Minimum temperature of minus seven degrees Celsius
This years vintage has prodcued very healthy grapes which is ideal to produce high-quality ice wines. Mostly Riesling grapes were harvested, as their late ripeness is particularly suitable for making ice wine. In recent years, winemakers often had to wait until January or sometimes February of the following year for the required minimum temperature of minus seven degrees Celsius.
According to the local Chamber of Agriculture, 66 hectares of vineyards were prepared for a potential ice harvest this year in Rhineland-Pfalz alone. Only a certain part is likely to have been harvested on November 30th because the legally stipulated low temperatures were not reached in every region.
Minus twelve degrees Celsius in Bavaria
The colder it gets, the higher the concentration effect in the grape berries. In Franken (Franconia) this morning, the thermometer for the harvest of the noble sweet specialty dipped to minus twelve degrees Celsius!
Not every vintage is crowned by icewines. Its exquisite aroma is derived from the dense concentration of the berry’s ingredients. Due to the frosty temperatures, the water in the berries freezes and remains in the wine press. The juice then drips from the wine press as sweet as honey. Musts with a high sugar content is fermented by yeast into wine, but with great difficulty.
Full flavor but relatively low alcohol levels
Accordingly, ice wines usually have a very high natural residual sugar content of well over 100 grams per liter, but in contrast to southern sweet wines, only have relatively low alcohol levels – often only around seven percent by volume.
The special thing about these noble drops is that their enormous residual sweetness does not overpower, thanks to the balance provided by the fresh fruit acid. As a prized rarity and specialty, they enjoy great international recognition.
Ice wines are great to enjoy on festive occasions and are ideal as an aperitif. As a menu companion, they are recommended with fruity desserts, ice cream or sorbets.
source: Deutsches Weininstitut / The German Wine Institute / www.germanwines.de