Monday, September 21, 2009


What have I been saying ever since I've gotten serious about Niagara wines? Huhh?? What have I been saying???!!! I've been yelling and screaming that if Niagara wants to become a world-class wine region, it will be on the back of dry table wines, NOT icewines.

And guess what? World-renowned publication Decanter Magazine agrees with me. In the latest issue (October 2009), which features the World Wine Awards, the Canadian wines were chaired by Tony Aspler. I respect Mr. Aspler tremendously. Vast experience, and true passion for Niagara. The piece writes, 'The panel was uniformly unimpressed by the quality of the late-harvest and Icewines. Too many were overly sweet and lacked acidity, a trait particularly evident in the Vidal range of late-harvest and Icewines'.

Word for word exactly what I've been saying for years. Icewine is too simple, and unbalanced. Even if it's just fruit in the wine, there has to be high acidity to balance everything out. Many Icewines do not have this balance. And vidal is ruining the industry. These vile hybrids are for, let's be honest, people who aren't serious about making profound wines. The only icewine that's remotely interesting is riesling. I've tasted older riesling icewines - the best ones have the balance, if not the complexity of a decent sweet wine.

I know everyone's passionate about icewine, there's a lot of money in it, and it's what Ontario's famous for. But, the vast majority of icewine being pumped is liquid shit. Honey and alcohol, packaged in a skinny and tall demi-bouteille, priced far above what it should be. There's no energy in icewine, no complexity, and definitely no character. Goopy, sweet, cloying, and as dumb and simple as the idiots who swear by it.

I love Niagara, but we can do better. Let's stop all the vidal nonsense, and try to coax some complexity out of the proper varietals (riesling, cabernet franc, etc.), instead of going for choking sweetness.

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