We missed the Ice Wine Fest in Niagara this year, so we decided to enjoy a little bit of this uniquely Ontario product at home. The Niagara Peninsula is the world’s largest producer of ice wines, a style of wine produced in parts of the United States, Germany and Canada. We sampled Bricklayer’s Predicament Late Harvest Vidal 2013 from Colio Winery, which is located in Harrow, ON, out of Essex County near the border with Michigan. A 375 ml bottle with 12% ABV will only set you back $11.95 at the LCBO, a downright steal when it comes to ice wine. Most bottles start in the $20 + range. This bottled had a large red bow at the LCBO, which likely influenced my purchasing decision. We sampled it in 4 oz. snifters. This was not our first drink of the evening, we had already enjoyed a bottle of Gewurtraminer Riesling earlier in the evening, but we had some water and lots of food in between.
Ice wines ring in at a much higher tab than regular VQA wines for a good reason. In order to qualify as an ice wine, the grapes must ripen on the vine and freeze to a temperature of at least -8C. In warmer winters, this means grapes can sit on the vines for months after a traditional harvest, and many fruit are lost to rotting or to hungry animals. The juice must be pressed while the grapes are still frozen, so workers will often pick very early in the morning or late in the evening before pressing the grapes in unheated rooms. It’s quite the arduous process, but it yields delicious dessert wines. The vidal grape is the quintessential Ontario ice wine grape.
Appearance: Very pale yellow, light straw colour. Thick legs on the pour.
Aroma: Honey sweet aroma, with mangos and lychees.
Taste: Very sweet on the palate. More mango flavours and a bit of pear. Ninja the rat stuck his head in my glass before I could stop him, he seemed to really enjoy it too.
Aftertaste: Very sweet lingering aftertaste. Notes of pineapple in the after taste.
Overall: An enjoyable digestif at a very accessible price point. Not the fanciest example of an ice wine, but a good place to start if the higher price tags of some other options scare you off. Worth having a bottle or two kicking around for unexpected company.
Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around.
She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.