Just in time for it to get even colder, what better way to combat the sub-zero temperatures than an after-dinner glass of expertly made award-winning Ontario Icewine.
Perhaps you’ve been lucky to receive a bottle this past holiday season. If not, you’ll want to get one quickly as supplies tend to dwindle this time of year due to the high demand and very limited supply. And with the Icewine Festival covering three weekends in January, now is the best time to experience, indulge and savour this treasured treat!
Ontario has produced Icewine since 1984, and ever since, it’s become somewhat of a proud Canadian essential. When Inniskillin won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Bordeaux’s Vinexpo wine fair in 1991, it was clear that Icewine was a big deal and not just another novelty product.
Made from grapes that have been left to freeze naturally on the vine, Ontario is a leading producer for obvious reasons, but also for its increasing global recognition when it comes to wine production.
Did You Know?: Icewine production is regulated in Ontario under the VQA Act. Strict standards are monitored by VQA inspectors, from vineyard to the bottle. Rules cover grape varieties, harvest procedures, winemaking and testing before the wine is released. No wine may use the term “Icewine” on its label unless it is certified by VQA Ontario.
The creative team behind Niagara’s Pondview Estate Winery, which produces award winning wines of their own, suggests that mixing some of your Icewine with gourmet Belgian hot chocolate is the just the type of heaven we all seek. But if preferred on its own, it’s best to serve chilled. After all, this is a dessert wine which means you can enjoy it either with, or as dessert! (If you’re not a dessert fan, Icewine is also a perfect complement to rich, strongly flavoured foods, such as foie gras and aged blue cheeses.)
On average, 800,000 litres of Icewine is produced annually and represents roughly 50 percent of Canada’s overall wine export business, clearly indicating that there is in fact at least one benefit to Canada being cold.
For three weekends in January the Niagara region is transformed into a wintry wonderland, in celebration of one of Canada’s most cherished products. The 23rd edition of the Niagara Icewine Festival offers plenty for every taste – glamour and indulgence at the Niagara Icewine Gala, unique wine and food pairings at over 35 wineries, and vibrant outdoor street festivals. It all kicks off with the lavish Niagara Icewine Festival Gala at Fallsview Casino Resort on January 12. Search more info at www.niagarawinefestival.com/icewine-festival
Inniskillin Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine 375mlTop of Form ($119.95)
A common practice is to pour some Icewine into your Sparkling, creating a less intensely sweet sipper. Inniskillin has taken this practice a giant step further by uniquely fusing the two distinct wine types together and oh how enjoyable this is! Cherries and strawberries immediately hit the senses. On the palate, lively flavours of raspberries, rhubarb and more strawberries, all balanced by a crisp acidity. Always enjoyable with chocolate and fresh red fruits! Sells out fast. Read more on Inniskillin here.
Pondview Vidal Icewine 375ml ($49.95)
Pondview’s 2016 double gold Decanter Awards win for best Canadian and North American Icewine is just one highlight in an illustrious young history which has included over 50 awards! This Vidal varietal is rich and decadent. Intense aromas of apricot and citrus marmalade are just a prelude to what’s waiting for you when you take a sip. Flavours of honey, mango, baked pear and apricot jam, followed by a lush, lingering finish are all the reasons why this wine is so deserving of its accolades.
Pondview Riesling Icewine 375ml ($59.95)
Pondview’s first foray using Riesling grapes for Icewine is nothing short of the definition of succulent and rich! Ripe pears and brown sugar hit the nose with a delicious apple crisp on the palate. Add this one to your hot chocolate or pour on top of your ice cream! Limited availability.