Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 German Eiswein - Ice Wine - was Harvested on December 18 and 19



Picture: Bild Zeitung - snow chaos!

Generally Germany is well geared for colder weather. But nobody anticipated that last weekend would bring the year's coldest. Temperatures sank as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius in some areas and snow and ice affected road, rail and airport services. The weather resulted in several deaths and hundreds of accidents.

At the same time, this frost was what lovers of German ice wine and German vintners had been looking for; those vintners who were holding out with their fruit in order to produce ice wine this year.

Ice wine is a very special wine that belongs to the group of noble-sweet wines. There are basically two methods of producing noble-sweet wines in Germany.

First, wait for the grapes to be botrytised. Botrytise Cinerea (noble rot) is a fungus that under the right conditions attacks already-ripe grapes, shriveling them, concentrating the sweetness and acidity. The grapes end up looking disgusting but they make profound sweet white wines with complex apricot, honey and spice flavors and good balancing acidity. Typically noble rot forms best in conditions where morning mist from a lake or river gets burnt off during the day by hot sun.

Botrytised wines are not unique to Germany. Other famous botrytised wines include the Sauternes (France), the Tokaji (Hungary), and the Beerenauslese, Ausbruch, Tockenbeerenauslese from Austria.

Second, wait for the grapes to be frozen. Grapes used for producing ice wine have a substantially lower level of sugar in the vineyard than the botrytised Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese wines, but that night, when the grapes are harvested, the frost has converted the grapes into ice. Because the grapes are frozen, most of the mass is water, and is left behind as ice in the press. Only a small amount of concentrated juice is extracted. This also produces profound sweet wines, but without the taste of the noble rot.

In Germany, there is no guarantee for the vintners for the frost to come and to allow them to pick frozen, sugar-rich grapes to make the sweet and expensive elixir. So, it is always a risk to let the fruit hang and wait for the temperature to fall.

The VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter), an association of many of the top German wine estates, reports that the freezing temperatures last Thursday and Friday morning allowed many producers to do what they had been hoping to do during the last few weeks. They harvested early in the morning, when the temperatures were between -9 and -11 ºC (between 15 and 12 ºF).

The following VDP estates picked on December 18 and 19, 2009. Here is some information at what day and time the ice wine was harvested, the vineyard, the grape variety and the sugar content of the must (measured in Oechsle).

AHR - Weingut Deutzer Hof
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:30 Uhr
Temperatur -10° Grad
Lage Altenahrer Eck
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 163° Grad
________________________________________
FRANKEN - Fürstlich Castell`sches Domänenamt
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -9° Grad
Lage Schlossberg, Kugelspiel
Rebsorte Silvaner
Oechsle 180° Grad
________________________________________
FRANKEN - Weingut am Stein
Lese 19. Dezember ab 6:00 Uhr
Temperatur -17° Grad
Lage Am Stettener Stein
Rebsorte Silvaner, Riesling
Oechsle 220° Grad
________________________________________
FRANKEN - Weingut Schmitts-Kinder
Lese 18. Dezember ab 6:30 Uhr
Temperatur -11° Grad
Lage Randersackerer Sonnenstuhl
Rebsorte Silvaner
Oechsle 212° Grad
________________________________________
FRANKEN - Weingut Hans Wirsching
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -8° Grad
Lage Iphöfer Kronsberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 193° Grad
________________________________________
MOSEL-SAAR-RUVER - Weingut S.A. Prüm
Lese 18. Dezember ab 8:00 Uhr
Temperatur -10,5° Grad
Lage Kraacher Himmelreich
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 165° Grad
________________________________________
PFALZ - Weingut Pfeffingen - Fuhrmann-Eymael
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -8,0° Grad
Lage Nussriegel
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 180° Grad
________________________________________
PFALZ - Weingut Fitz-Ritter
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -10,0° Grad
Lage Dürkheimer Hochbenn
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 165° Grad
________________________________________
RHEINGAU - Wein- und Sektgut Barth
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -8,5° Grad
Lage Hallgartener Jungfer
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 183° Grad
________________________________________
RHEINGAU - Weingut Joachim Flick
Lese 18. Dezember ab 6:30 Uhr
Temperatur -8° Grad
Lage Wickerer Mönchsgewann
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 170° Grad
________________________________________
RHEINGAU - Weingut Langwerth von Simmern
Lese 18. Dezember ab 6:30 Uhr
Temperatur -8° Grad
Lage Eltviller Sonnenberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 160° Grad
________________________________________
WÜRTTEMBERG - Weingut Gerhard Aldinger
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:30 Uhr
Temperatur -10,5° Grad
Lage Vellbach Goldberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 190° Grad
________________________________________
WÜRTTEMBERG - Weingut Karl Haidle
Lese 18. Dezember ab 7:00 Uhr
Temperatur -12° Grad
Lage Stettener Pulvermächer
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle 210° Grad
________________________________________
WÜRTTEMBERG - Weingut Drautz-Able
Lese 20. Dezember ab 5:00 Uhr
Temperatur -15° Grad
Lage Heilbronner Stiftberg, Gemarkung Riedenberg
Rebsorte Riesling
Oechsle Erster Anstich 310° im Ergebnis 270° Grad

If you are interested in a more comprehensive picture of the German 2009 ice wine situation, go here.

The first ice wine was reportedly produced in Germany in 1794. Today, ice wines are highly prized wines that are made not only in Germany, but also in Austria and Canada as well as other countries, including the United States. Canada has experienced an amazing ice wine boom in the past decades. At the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Banquet for President Obama in Oslo, an ice wine from Canada was served.

In the context of ice wine, people also talk a lot about cryoextraction. This is an approach, which kind of simulates the frost in the vineyard in the wine cellar. It was developed by the French. Instead of waiting for mother nature to produce frosty temperatures in the vineyard, the winemaker subjects the grapes to frosty temperatures in the cellar and presses them while frozen. In France, the method has been used for many years to boost the sugar content in the famous (botrytized) Sauternes grapes, including the top notch chateaus.

This method is now common in a number of countries, including the United States. But in the United States, wine from grapes frozen after the harvest cannot be called ice wine. In Austria and Germany cryoextraction is under discussion, but has not yet been made legal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment