There will be Icewine Baby!

According to Deutsche Weine (DWI) on November 30th, strong frosts enabled winegrowers in several German wine regions such as Nahe, Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Franken and Rheingau to harvest frozen grapes for icewine. Icewine requires a minimum temperature of minus 7 degrees celsius.

icewine harvest
Icewine harvest (picture (c) deutsches weininstitut)

According to DWI this comparatively early date for an ice wine harvest is very beneficial for the wine quality, since the grapes for icewine production should be as healthy as possible. 

The very good state of health of the grapes of this year’s vintage therefore offers the best preconditions for high-quality ice wines.

Mainly Riesling grapes were harvested, which are particularly suitable for making ice wine due to their late ripening. In recent years, winemakers often had to wait until January or even February of the following year for the required minimum temperature of minus seven degrees Celsius. In 2019 the German icewine harvest failed almost entirely due to the lack of frost in the wine regions.

According to the local Chamber of Agriculture, 66 hectares of vineyards were prepared for a potential ice harvest this year in Rhineland-Pfalz alone – that’s basically the wine regions of Moselle, Pfalz, and Rheinhessen. Only a certain part is likely to have been harvested on November 30th because the legally stipulated low temperatures were not reached in every region.

The colder it gets, the higher the concentration effect in the grape berries is. In Franken (Franconia) in the morning of November 30 2020, the thermometer for the harvest of the noble sweet specialty sank to minus twelve degrees Celsius.

Frozen grapes (picture (c) deutsches weininstitut)

The icewine’s exquisite aroma is derived from the dense concentration of the berry’s ingredients. Due to the frosty temperatures, the water in the berries freezes and remains in the wine press. The juice then drips from the wine press as sweet as honey. Musts with such a high sugar content can only be fermented by yeast into alcohol with great efforts – which results in wines of very low alcohol levels. Refreshing fruit acid in icewine grapes balances out the high levels of sugar and thus make this prized rarity so enjoyable. Similar to Trockenbeerenauslese (Selection of Dry Berries) icewine makes for a beautiful dessert on its own – or will pair very nicely with blue cheeses or a dessert of moderate sweetness.