The world of wine is seemingly governed by the pretense of history and the taste buds of the judging elite– but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It guides growers on agricultural practices and almost guarantees the production of quality wine. Icewine, the premium dessert wine of the wine-drinking world, is no exception.
Icewine has an alcohol content similar to that of standard wines, but its sweetness is what places it in a category all its own. The wine is produced by letting grapes to freeze right on the branches, which allows the moisture to solidify, leaving everything else is left untainted (especially the sugars). This lets produces extract a more concentrated juice from the grapes during pressing. Because the process of making icewine is an extremely involved process, they are usually more expensive (but oh, so worth it).
In a bit of recent news that has hurt the sensibilities of some wine aficionados, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food granted Destination of Origin (DO) status to the region of Penedès to produce Icewine. Penedès, a wine-growing region in Catalonia, Spain is traditionally subject to warmer temperatures than other wine-growing regions in Europe, which isn’t bad for wine, but problematic for icewine.
As David Furer from Decanter states, “This is the first European appellation to allow artificial freezing of grapes.” Thus the controversy, as other notable icewine producing regions in Germany, Austria, and France won’t permit the artificial freezing of the grapes. For some experts, this new DO status for Penedès signifies something much more bureaucratic at play, having less to do with the wine, and more to do with the people behind the wine.
Nonetheless, Penedès is accepting the new DO, but understands they won’t get away with much more than artificial freezing; Sugar additions will not be permitted for the Spanish icewine. The grapes harvested for the wine will include Chardonnay, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc, among others. Gramona is one of the first growers from whom the icewine will be made available, and though it won’t come cheap, (politics aside) it should be a pleasure to the palate.