Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thirty Bench 5

2007 Thirty Bench Riesling Icewine, VQA Beamsville Bench.

Ahh, icewine. I've never made secret my skepticism about icewine as a premium desert wine, and I made that clear to Alex. He thinks I don't taste it properly - I think Ontario wine makers are overhyping it, overpricing it, and too overeager to look over its deficiencies.

This wine was excellent. But it doesn't change the fact that icewine is still a one-dimensional, honeyed wine, that doesn't improve with age, and it shockingly far too expensive.

We tasted the 2007 Riesling Icewine, the 1996 Riesling Icewine, and the 2007 Cabernet Icewine. All showed off Thirty Bench's fantastic acidity, and good fruit characters. But nothing really beyond fruit and honey. I enjoyed them - these icewines have a purity to them. It's just pure fruit, no nonsense that hides or obstructs it. And the 1996 is holding up extremely well, with a long life ahead of it. It's just that these 12 years have failed to add any significant complexities.

It wasn't my decision to buy one. And I still think that Niagara region needs to build its reputation on riesling and pinot noir, not icewine. But these wines are so pure, I'll make an exception. How does $75 for a half-bottle sound? I paid $78 for a full bottle of 2007 Chateau Guiraud, one of the top producers of Sauternes, in one of the top vintages. Let's taste them together in a few years and see how right I am.

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