Skip to main content

2009 Icewine harvest; how's it going?

Dwayne Perreault − Here in Europe, we are experiencing one of the coldest winters in recent memory. All this snow and ice makes me think... of icewine! 2009, by all accounts, should be an excellent year for this highly prized (and priced) nectar.

I assume you know what icewine is, and how it’s made. If not, I wrote an article (in Dutch) which you can read here. I also wrote a piece for this blog on a Canadian sparkling icewine.

It’s not easy to make icewine. More than anything, you are dependant on the weather. You need to have healthy grapes which are untouched by botrytis, and you may only harvest when the temperature reaches -7° C. At this point, the water in the grapes is frozen, which results in a much lower yield but a higher concentration of sugars, acidity and extract. Rot and predation by birds and animals are major problems, and vinification is difficult and lengthy, This helps to explain why real icewines are never cheap, but a good one is worth every cent. I sell the delicious 1999 Eiswein by Weingut Debus in the Rheinhessen for €35 per half bottle.

Although icewines are apparently made all over the globe including Hong Kong and Australia, there are four major producing countries: Canada, Germany, Austria and the United States. These are the major wine producing countries that are cold enough to produce icewine on a regular or semi-regular basis. This may change if global warming continues. I’ve always wondered what an Icelandic icewine from volcanic soil would taste like!

But back to 2009: I contacted various producers around the world to ask how the harvest went. I was specifically interested in the recorded must weights, but it is important to note that the minimum must weight legally required to make icewine varies from country to country (it is much higher in Canada than in Germany or Austria), and this is further complicated by the fact that different countries use different units of measurement. In Canada, the minimum must weight required to make icewine is 35° Brix. Where necessary, I have converted from Oechsle in Germany or KMW (Klosterneuburger Mostwaage) in Austria to Brix, and from Fahrenheit to Celsius for comparative purposes. Here are the responses I received:

Nicolas Quillé, the winemaker at Randall Grahm’s Pacific Rim winery in Washington, had this to say: “We had a great two weeks of solid cold weather in early December (night time at -13°C and day time at -9°C). We've handpicked on December 10th in one pass, 6.5 tons total yielding 500 gallons at about 36 Brix. It was -8°C that morning and the grapes were frozen solid. It was so cold that our tank froze as well! Should be a very very solid ice wine from our Selenium Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.”

In Canada, things were going less well for the famous producer Inniskillin. PR Manager Deborah Pratt reported on January 5th that while some Canadian wineries like Strewn and Henry of Pelham had already harvested, Inniskillin was still waiting at both its Okanagan Valley and Niagara Peninsula vineyards.

This was followed up by a second message on January 14th where she reported the following: “We did not pick at either place yet. While we were poised to proceed last, frigid, weekend the mechanical harvester broke down, temperatures rose and they are still on the vine. Again, this years volume is very limited. The longer we wait the more the birds eat even with bangers and the netting.”

In Germany, a funny thing happened this past year: there were two eiswein harvests. First, the grapes from 2008 were harvested in January 2009 and according to this press release the 2009 harvest took place from December 17th to 19th with temperatures ranging from -7° to -15°C. Must weights varied from 140 Oechsle (about 32.5 Brix) to an astonishing 200° Oechsle (45 Brix!) measured by Weingut Jörg Trossen in Traben-Trarbach.

Nicolas Quillé says “I can believe the 45 Brix number from the German Winery. The yield must have been low. When we press our icewine (the real one, not the Vin De Glaciere), we start at 55 Brix of the press and go down from there. We get only a few gallons per ton of the uber sticky stuff.”

In Austria, Susanne Staggl from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board wrote “For Lower Austria: about 75 vintners made an icewine this year, with about 20-25.000 kg - so these are around 12.000 litres of icewine. The harvest-date was around 19th/20th of December. The must weight was about 27-35 KMW (roughly 31 to 39 Brix). The most "popular" grapes this year were Grüner Veltliner, Sämling 88 (Scheurebe). This icewine-vintage is very good for vintners, because the last one was 3 years ago.

And here (is) the information for Burgenland: 80-90 vintners made icewine, the harvest-date was also 19th and 20th of December, the must-weight was around 30 till 34º KMW (about 34 to 38º Brix), the grapes were very healthy. in the region around Eisenstadt (which is the regional capital of Burgenland), the most popular Grapes for ice wine were Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. In the Seewinkel-Region (it's the right shore of lake Neusiedl), they harvested both - red and whites.”

On both continents, now begins the long process of vinification. But generally speaking, 2009 is looking to be a great year for icewine.


I love me some Icewine too! Although I haven't had a really high quality one in a while. I supposed I'll have to wait for a good German tasting and then I'll be able to get a sip. Cheers and Stay Warm~

Popular posts from this blog

Bordeaux 2016 grootste aanraders

Tips Bordeaux 2016 - Evenals vorige jaar presenteer ik weer de hitparade, de hall of fame. Subjectief, en mag best tot verhitte discussies leiden, allemaal goed. Dit is wat we dit jaar vonden. Op deze apenrots alleen de rode wijnen.

De meer betaalbare wijnen, de kleinere châteaux, komen in een volgende posting aan bod. Evenals de witte wijnen. Per cijfer staan de wijnen alfabetisch. En de Top Tweede Wijnen Bordeaux 2016 staat onderaan.

Omissie: Gruaud Larose 2016 hebben we niet geproefd. Op de proeftafel stond een lege fles. Ook gemist helaas: Haut Batailley 2016. Meestal gaaf, maar François-Xavier Borie had 'm er dit jaar niet bij staan - tot nu toe werd deze wijn steevast samen gepresenteerd met de Grand Puy Lacoste.

Ausone 2016
Lafite Rothschild 2016
Margaux 2016
Petrus 2016

Canon 2016
l’Eglise-Clinet 2016
Haut-Bailly 2016
Haut-Brion 2016
Latour 2016
Montrose 2016
Palmer 2016
Le Pin 2016
Pontet-Canet 2016
Vieux Château Certan 2016

La Conseillante 2016
Domaine de Chevali…

Bordeaux 2016 kooptips linkeroever

Kooptips Bordeaux 2016 - de value-for-money killer 2016's ter linkerzijde van Gironde en Garonne - Leuk natuurlijk al die dure jongens (uit de vorige posting), maar wat zijn nou de wijnen die je straks makkelijk opentrekt, en waar je misschien extra van geniet omdat het ook nog eens zo'n leuk koopje was? We hebben de grootste aanraders op rij gezet. We volgen min of meer de volgorde van de lijst met ons aanbod.

Mauvesin Barton 2016 Moulis
Eigenlijk is dit geen killer wine. Geen tot nederigheid stemmend zwaargewicht die proevers besmuikt naar elkaar laat knikken, daarbij sjonge jonge mompelend of iets dergelijks. Nee, als hier iets of iemand bescheidenheid aan de dag legt dan is het de wijn zelf. Dit is een eerlijke, ingetogen Médoc met fijne klassieke trekken. Voornaam zonder gedoe. Mooi puur fruit, heel goed in balans. Elegant en sappig. En en bouche uitgesproken energiek. Kleine Barton waar je blij van wordt. Mauvesin Barton 2016.

Potensac 2016 Médoc
Uit de stal van Léoville l…

Bordeaux 2016 kooptips rechteroever

Kooptips Bordeaux 2016 - de value-for-money killer 2016's ter rechterzijde van Gironde en Garonne - Het heeft even geduurd, maar hier is dan de laatste posting met tips, de leukste betaalbare primeurs uit Saint-Emilion en Pomerol en omstreken. We volgen weer min of meer de volgorde van de lijst met ons aanbod.

Fonroque 2016 St-Emilion
Deze wijn hoort hier eigenlijk niet thuis. Als 'Grand Vin', deze biodynamische Grand Cru Classé van mooi terroir nabij de heuvel van St-Emilion (het dorp). Wél een wijn die ongehoord goed is én zeer betaalbaar. Mijn proefnotitie schudt Pavlov wakker, en dat midden op de dag. Expressief, rood fruitig en soepel. Intens, evenwichtig en met levendige zuren. Veel precisie en frisheid. En dan eindigt de notitie met het woord 'top'. Says it all. Klasse en evenwicht, zie daar deze jonge pure Fonroque 2016.

Grand Corbin Despagne 2016 St-Emilion
Nog zo'n geweldige verstekeling. Eveneens een heuse Grand Cru Classé, maar belangrijker: ook een b…