When you’re considering Canadian sweet wine, you’re really considering icewine. This fabulously concentrated drink can only be made in bone-chilling temperatures when the mercury drops to a minimum of -8˚C. The grapes are harvested and pressed with the grapes still frozen, intensifying the flavour and creating a luscious but balanced end product.
A variety of grapes are used to make Canadian icewine, but the most popular are Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon for red icewine, and Riesling and the widely grown Vidal grape for white. Like the best sweet wines, icewine is the perfect match for desserts, but also pairs exceptionally well with blue cheese and also salty foods such as olives and anchovies.
This year’s IWSC saw an exceptionally strong line-up of Canadian sweet wines. Top of the list was Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2019 from Peller Estates Winery, which scored an impressive 97/100pts and scooped a Gold medal. The judges loved its inviting nose of apricot, quince and mango, along with its zesty, honeyed palate and long, elegant finish.
Another high scorer was Inniskillin Niagara Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019 (96/100pts). Inniskillin, located near Niagara Falls, was the first winery in Canada to launch following Prohibition, and was among the first to make icewine. This particular bottle wowed the judges with aromas of strawberry, cherry and toffee, with mouth-watering acidity balancing the rich palate of barley sugar and plum.
Finally, No.99 Vidal Icewine 2019 from Wayne Gretzky Estates – the winery founded by the legendary ice hockey player – took a Gold (96/100pts) thanks to its opulent notes of stem ginger, rose petals and sugar crystals, with burnt butter and sticky honey on the palate.
Each bottle of Canadian sweet wine entered into this year’s IWSC was tasted blind by a first-class panel of experts. In charge of proceedings were Masters of Wine Dirceu Vianna Junior and John Hoskins, ably assisted by JetVine director Kelly Stevenson, writer and presenter Helena Nicklin and Master Sommeliers Matthieu Longuere and Stefan Neumann.
If you’re a sweet-wine fan and want something different to a Sauternes or Tokaji, Canadian sweet wines are where to head. Here are some of the best from this year’s IWSC.
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE WINES?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE WINES?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE
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