If dessert’s your favorite part of the meal, then you are in for a treat today.
A trip to Toronto would seem sacrilege without visiting Canada’s premier wine region – Ontario, to experience what could easily be considered nectar of the gods – Icewine. With only one day allocated to our wine excursion, our first stop was Inniskillin, Niagara-on-the-Lake, an hour and a half’s drive from downtown Toronto. Inniskillin produces a variety of table wines, however, today, we will strictly focus on their Icewines.
Though Icewine’s roots can be traced to centuries old German winemakers (Eiswein), there is nothing more quintessentially Canadian than this luscious liquid gold made from a variety of grapes like Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and the French hybrid Vidal. Genuine Icewine must follow VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) regulations that prohibit artificial freezing of grapes. Hand harvesting is carried out, at times in the middle of the night, when temperatures reach at least -8° C or no higher than 17.6 F.
Canada’s frozen assets are magically high in both sugars and acid, thereby intensifying the flavors and alleviating complexity to the wine, to produce one of the most decadent and expensive elixirs in the world. It’s extreme wine making at it’s best where one lets the grapes hang longer, harvesting at sub-zero conditions, while thwarting hungry birds and animals. A sip is all it takes to realize why wine makers go to such extreme lengths to produce some of the hardest wine to make, yielding intense wines of ravishing complexity.
Shall we taste? Inniskillin Icewine styles range from no-oak to slightly oaked to sparkling.
Vidal Icewine – Vidal a hybrid (Ugni Blanc and Seibel) is the varietal of choice for Icewine production in Ontario. Inniskillin Vidal Icewine is made in two distinct styles-without oak aging for fresh fruit emphasis and with oak aging for added complexity. We tasted the 1988 and 1997 oak aged Icewines. The 1988 perhaps a bit over the hill was enjoyed more so as bragging rights.
The 1997 Oak Aged Vidal Icewine showcased alluring flavors of apricot, candied peaches, and marmalade, enhanced with vanilla and spice, luscious in texture with lingering finish. Yes, we did indeed walk away with few souvenirs.
The 2004 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine boasted candied strawberries, pepper and spice. The 2014 Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine made by the Charmat method was dominated by tropical ripe fruits, citrus, and honey. A delightful choice for wine-lovers with a sweet palate.
The Riesling Icewine with crisp acidity brightened and balanced the tropical peach, lime, and floral notes.
Since Jackson-Triggs and Le Clos Jordanne are also under the umbrella of Constellation Brands, Inc. we were happy to accept the recommendation for visiting Jackson-Triggs where we were able to sample Le Clos Jordanne (inspired by Inniskillin cofounders Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser) wines too.
Claystone Terrace, a premier region of Jordan with terroir of clay and limestone, produces elegant renditions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with vibrant acidity. The 2012 Chardonnay, medium body displayed ripe citrus, green apples with a hint of honey and oak spices, creamy texture. The 2011 Pinot noir, masculine in style exhibited dark red and black berries with baking spices, and linear acidity.
The wallet-friendly wines of Jackson-Triggs ranged from white varietals of Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Vidal, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling to reds of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage Blend, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz/Syrah.
We were especially impressed with the wine expertise and hospitality at both the wineries. Gratitude from the bottom of our heart for treating us to such delicious juice.
Speaking of dessert pairings, make this rule your mantra – the wine should be at least as sweet—if not sweeter—than whatever you’re eating.
If like me, you relish sipping wine itself as dessert, seek out the other delicious dessert wines of the world – French Sauternes, Hungarian Tokaji, Late Harvest German Riesling or Auslese, BA, and TBA, Late Harvest Alsace SGN, sweet wines from Chenin Blanc or Muscat in Loire Valley, France, Italian Vin Santo. Including an entire panel of Red and Fortified wines.
Until next time, have a delicious day!!