by Fred McMillin
for May 27, 1998
Thick Skin, Great Wine
1986—Vidal Blanc, a French-American hybrid variety, manages quite high sugar levels in cold climates. Acid levels are also agreeably high and the flavor sufficiently fruity to make one hope that the grape will prove increasingly popular.
...British expert Jancis Robinson
Ten years later:
1996—Vidal Blanc's slow, steady ripening and thick skin make it particularly suitable for ice wine, for which it is famous in Canada.
... Jancis Robinson
1997—The Inniskillin Winery near Niagara Falls in Canada pioneered North American ice wine, and its experience shows in the quality of its wines...Some Japanese racehorse owners made a 45-minute stop at the winery and spent $10,000 on Vidal ice wine.
...The Wine Spectator Magazine
So Jancis' hope has been realized. The Vidal has found a home in snowy Ontario, which has become the world's leading producer of ice wine. Why does it pay to have a thick skin? Well, ice wine is made by allowing the grapes to partly freeze. The water in the grape juice forms solid ice crystals, while the flavor agents remain in the liquid. If the skins are too fragile, the grapes rupture during the process and the rich nectar is lost...a winelover's nightmare.
1996 Ice Wine, Vidal Grape (harvested Jan. 1997)
The chilling details of making ice wine:
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