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by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
Winegrowing in Canada?
1970—Those who knew Canadian wines found it hard to take them seriously.
1991—Inniskillin's Vidal Ice wine wins a Grand Prix d'Honneur at Vinexpo in Bordeaux.
...from Hugh Johnson's World Atlas of Wine
Eastern Canada discovered ice wine, the luscious dessert nectar made from partially-frozen ripe grapes. Let's return to the enlightenment of the '70s, as told by the late dean of American wine writers, Leon Adams, Wines of America, 4th Ed.:
"Not so far from Niagara Falls is Ontario's first estate winery. It is named Inniskillin, for the two-century-old farm on which young nurseryman Donald Ziraldo began planting wine grapes when he graduated in horticultural science from the University of Guelph, in 1971. Karl Kaiser, an economics teacher and home winemaker from Austria, bought some vines from Ziraldo, became his winemaker and partner, and then took advanced studies in biochemistry and bacteriology at Brock University. The partners made their first vintage in 1974 in a converted packing shed. A year later they were granted the first new Ontario winery license issued since 1929. They since have built a large modern winery and expanded their vineyard...[and had sensational success with their ice wines]."
One of those sensations is made from a French hybrid, a cross between Ugni Blanc and Seibel 4986. Seibel? When the deadly phylloxera insect struck French vineyards over a century ago, the French created crosses between American and French varieties. The goal was a hybrid with the phylloxera-resistance of the former and the wine flavors of the later. Albert Seibel was one of those hybridizers. This cross that Inniskillin uses is called Vidal. We covered it in detail in the May 27, 1998 WineDay titled, "Thick Skin, Great Wine".
My class just tasted the 1996 Inniskillin Vidal
Ice Wine. It won Best of Tasting by a full 20%
over the second-place bottle...very unusual; the
top wine's margin usually is about half that.
The Wall St, Journal's Gaiter and Brecher agree.
Their opinion of the same wine:
The winery's other champion is made from another cold-climate grape, the Riesling. It's covered in the March 30, 2000 WineDay, "Baby, It's Cold Outside".
Just the Facts
We think Canadian ice wines are the greatest dessert wines developed in the 20th century. Hat's off to Donald and Karl, who led the charge.
Postscript—The Behavior of Solutions
If you partially freeze a mixture of water, sugar and a few other grape compounds, the first solids to form are ice crystals. If you remove the solid ice, the remaining liquid is much richer in sugar and flavor compounds. While Inniskillin vineyards look normal in the summer, (pictured), Donald knows they are a bit different at crushing time.
06/21/00—Death of a Wine
06/20/00—What Tom Wrought
06/19/00—Vee-ohn-yea Is On Its Way
06/16/00—From Hardy to Taltarni
06/15/00—Sunday Is Father's Day
06/14/00—Napoleon Takes Marengo
06/13/00—Rats! Not Enough Grapes
06/12/00—Quite a...Few Good Men
06/09/00—Much Ado About Peju
06/08/00—A Fantastic Fusion
06/07/00—Sing a Song of Sirah
06/06/00—From Movies to Monterey
06/05/00—An Ovation for the Bride
06/01/00—The Father of the Brides!
This page created June 2000