On November 30th, winegrowers in several German wine regions like 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
The very good state of health of the grapes of this year’s vintage therefore offers the best conditions for high-quality ice wines. Mainly Riesling grapes were harvested, which are particularly suitable for making ice wine due to their later ripeness. In recent years, winemakers often had to wait until January or even 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 is. In Franken (Franconia) this morning, the thermometer for the harvest of the noble sweet specialty even sank 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 such a high sugar content can only be fermented by yeast into wine 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 companions 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