Disclaimer: The following might be considered too geeky for some. Proceed at your own risk!
What is Eiswein? Well, for those of you who might not be familiar with this beautifully aromatic and sweet dessert wine here is a little background.
Although Eiswein/Ice wine can now be had from regions around the world one could say that Germany is the re-birthplace if not the birthplace of this unctuous elixir. While Germany often gets the credit for creation of ice wine there are indications that frozen grapes were used to make wine in Roman times. Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – 79) wrote about certain grape varieties that were not harvested before frost had occurred. The poet Martial (AD 40 – 102) recommended that grapes should be left on the vine until November or until they were stiff with frost. However, some time later the practice seems to have either been forgotten or abandoned. It was not until 1794, in Franconia Germany, that ice wine or Eiswein reappeared as a winemaking practice.
Even if counties as far flung as Canada now produce Icewine on a regular basis genuine Eiswein (German Ice Wine) is counted among the great sweet wines of the world.
Eiswein is an an extreme version of the late harvest method; the grapes are left to hang on the vine long after the late harvest, such as Trockenbeerenauslese and Beerenauskesse, has been completed. Great care is taken to protect the remaining grapes from the attack of birds and wild boars which pose a constant threat to the remaining grapes. This special wine can only be made when the weather cooperates. This means that grapes must be picked at temperatures that are at least -8 degrees Celsius, usually in December, or even as late as January. Since weather prognostication is not an exact science (contrary to the beliefs held by weathermen all around the world) the winemaker and the vineyard crew have to be at the ready as soon as the temperature hits the magic – 8 degrees Celsius, which usually doesn’t happen until the dark of night. When the alarm sounds, signaling the right temperature, the crew heads into the vineyard to harvest the frozen berries which must remain frozen all the way through the pressing process. It is this freezing process that is absolutely essential.
Once at the winery, the frozen grapes are pressed. The ice crystals remain in the press and the resulting juice obtained is high in both sugar (in Germany
referred to as Oeschle), acids and aromatic compounds. This concentrated juice is then collected and fermented. The result is a wine that is both exceptionally sweet and exceptionally tart. See below for flavor profiles.
The must weight required for a wine to achieve classification as Eiswein varies from one region of Germany to another. Eiswein must hit at least 110º Oechsle in several regions, including Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, but this figure climbs as high as 128º for Baden. Note that in all cases, however, this is less than that required for Trockenbeerenauslese, which must be at least 150º Oechsle.
Because it is so difficult to make, ice wine tends to be rare and expensive. 375 ml to 500ml bottles can start at +$50 and go up from there paying $100’s of is not unheard of. Eiswein has established itself as a wine that people will pay a fortune for.
Eiswein is distinguished by the contrast between its fragrant sweetness and acidity. A great Eiswein is both rich and fresh. Young Eisweins have tropical fruit, peach or berry overtones. Older Eisweins suggest caramel or honey. Colors can range from white to rose.
Über GEEK WARNING: If you thought the above information was geeky the geek factor that follows is even higher!
The following was originally posted in German here
Here are the first 2009 Eiswein vintage reports from Germany.
Weingut Deutzerhof Cossmann-Hehle (Mayschoß): Riesling-Eiswein with 163 ° Oechsle harvested at -9° C
Alde Gott Winzer eG (Sasbachwalden): approximately 350 Liter of Riesling-Eiswein with 221° Oechsle, harvested at -13 ° C.
WG Burkheim: 220 Liter Gewürztraminer-Eiswein with 178° Oechsle, harvested at – 10 ° C In der Lage Rheinhalde in Burkheim.
Weingut Dreher (Emmendingen): Spätburgunder-Eiswein with 226° Oechsle, harvested at – 14 ° C in der Lage Hochburg.
WG Königschaffhausen: Cabernet Sauvignon-Eiswein harvested with 194 ° Oechsle on Saturday at -10 ° C in der Lage Hasenberg.
Weingut Krebs (Binzen): 80 Liter Spätburgunder-Eiswein with 221° Oechsle, harvested on Sunday at – 14 ° C
Weingut Landmann (Freiburg): 110 Liter Cabernet Cubin Eiswein with 233° Oechsle , harvested at – 17 ° C
WG Oberbergen: Ruländer-Eiswein with 212° Oechsle, harvested at – 10 ° C .
Zeller Abtsberg Winzer eG: 200 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 217 ° harvested at – 13 ° C.
Weingut Baldauf (Ramsthal): Silvaner-Eiswein harvested at 7:30 am with 18 pickers at – 9.5 ° C. and a mustweight of 189 ° Oechsle.
Weingut Waldemar Braun (Nordheim): approximately 150 Liter Rieslaner-Eiswein harvested at -15 ° C with 240° Oechsle in vineyard Nordheimer Vögelein and approximately120 Liter Domina-Eiswein with 184°Oechsle at – 10,5 ° C in the vineyard Nordheimer Kreuzberg.
Fürstlich Castell´sches Domänenamt: Silvaner-Eiswein with 180 ° Oechsle harvested at – 9 ° C in Schlossberg and Kugelspiel.
Divino (Nordheim): 160 Liter Silvaner-Eiswein in vineyard Nordheimer Vögelein harvested at
– 9 ° C with 193 ° Oechsle.
Weingut Gebrüder Geiger jun. (Thüngersheim): Silvaner-Eiswein with 234° Oechsle, harvested at – 17,4 ° C on Saturday around 5am in the vineyard Retzbacher Benediktusberg.
Weingut Johannes Popp (Iphofen): first harvest Riesling-Eiswein from the vineyard Rödelseer Küchenmeister with 188° Oechsle on 18 of December at -9°C- and a Silvaner-Eiswein from the vineyard Rödelseer Küchenmeister with 217° Oechsle on 20 of December at -12° Celsius.
Weingut A & E Rippstein (Sand a. Main): approximately 100 Liter Silvaner Eiswein from the Kronberg vineyard with 191 ° Oechsle, harvested at 6am at – 9 ° C.
Weingut Römmert (Volkach): Weissburgunder-Eiswein with 200 ° Oechsle from the Voklkacher Ratsherr vineyard harvested at – 11 ° C.
Weingut Schwitht´s Kinder (Randersacker): Silvaner-Eiswein with 212 ° Oechsle harvested at – 11 ° C from the Randersackerer Sonnenstuhl vineyard.
Winzerkeller Sommerach: 200 Liter Silvaner-Eiswein from the Katzenkopf vineyard harvested at – 9 ° C. According to the business manager, Frank Dietrich, around 600 kg of frozen grapes were pressed.
Weingut Hans Wirsching (Iphofen): Riesling-Eiswein with 193 ° Oechsle in harvested from the vineyard Iphöfer Kronsberg at – 10 ° C.
Bergsträsser Winzer eG (Heppenheim): 200 Liter with 175 ° C Oechsle on Friday and on Saturday two Riesling-Eisweine with 271° Oechsle from the Heppenheimer Eckweg vineyard and 274° from Heppenheimer Maiberg vineyard. These could currently be the highest must-weights recorded so far this year.
Weingut Klaus Lotz (Erden): 120 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 190° Oechsle harvested at – 16 ° C.
Weingut Philipps-Eckstein (Graach-Schäferei): two Riesling-Eisweines: One of Friday harvested at -10 ° C from the vineyard Graacher Himmerleich with 165° Oechsle and the other on Saturday harvested at – 18 ° C from Graacher Himmelreich vineyard with 192° Oehsle.
Weingut S. A. Prüm (Wehlen): approximately150 Liter Riesling Eiswein harvested at -10.5° from the Graacher Himmelreich vineyard with 165 ° Oechsle and 14 % acid.
Wein- und Sektgut Walter Rauen (Detzem): Riesling-Eiswein with 208° oechsle harvested on Saturday at -15 ° C. This is the highest must-weight from the property since the 1989 harvest.
Weingut Reh (Schleich): Riesling-Eiswein with 170° Oechsle harvested Saturday at -12 ° C in from the Pölicher Held vineyard.
Weingut Zender-Göhlen (Wittlich): 300 Liters of Riesling-Eiswein with a must-weight of 140 ° Oechsle. This was harvested on thursday morning makeing it possibly the earliest Eiswein of the year.
Weingut Klostermühle (Odernheim): 60 Liter Riesling-Eiswein from the Kloster Disibodenberg vineyard harvested at – 8 ° C. with a must-weight of 135 ° Oechsle
Weingut Wilhelm Sitzius (Langenlonsheim): 150 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 163° Oechsle.
Weingut Udo Weber (Monzingen): 60 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 180° Oechsle harvested at – 13 ° C from the Bad Sobernheimer Marbach vineyard.
PFALZ Aloisiushof (St. Martin): Silvaner-Eiswein „Alte Reben“ with 231° Oechsle harvested Sunday at -14 ° C .
Weingut Bühler (Kallstadt): Riesling-Eiswein approximately174° Oechsle
Weingut Braun (Meckenheim): Riesling-Eiswein approximately170° Oechsle
Weingut Breitling & Walter (Neustadt-Duttweiler): Chardonnay-Eiswein
Consulat des Weines (St. Martin) Eiswein from Chardonnay und Spätburgunder with approximately140 ° Oechsle
Weingut Darting (Bad Dürkheim): Scheurebe-Eiswein and Huxelrebe-Eiswein with over 170 ° Oechsle.
Winzergenossenschaft Edenkoben eG: approximately 450 Liter Cabernet Withos-Eiswein harvested at -10,5 ° C with an average must-weight of 142 ° C Oechsle.
Weingut Fitz-Ritter (Bad Dürkheim): Riesling-Eiswein with 165 ° Oechsle Harvested under a clear moonlit sky and a dusting of fresh snow this morning 7am 7 at -10° from the Dürkheimer Hochbenn vineyard Weingut Winfried Frey & Söhne (Essingen): about 500 Liters of Eiswein each of Merlot, Chardonnay und Muskateller with mustweights betweein 165 und 180 ° Oechsle.
Weingut Martin und Georg Fußer (Niederkirchen): approximately 70 Liter Muskateller-Eiswein with 157° Oechsle
Weingut Christian Heußler (Rhodt unter Rietburg): approximately 100 to 150 Liter Cabernet Sauvignon Eiswein with 230 ° Oechsle harvested at -14 ° C.
Weingut H.-M. Hochdörffer (Landau-Nußdorf): Silvaner-Eiswein Weingut Naegele (Neustadt-Hambach): approximately 280 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with approximately 142° Oechsle Niederkirchener
Weinmacher eG.: approximately 300 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 215 ° Oechsle harvested at – 13,5 ° C from the Ruppertsberger Nußbien vineyard.
Weingut Heinz Pfaffmann (Walsheim): approximately 400 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with approximately 150° Oechsle
Weingut Pfeffingen (Bad Dürkheim-Ungstein): Riesling-Eiswein with approximately 170 to 190° Oechsle
Ruppertsberger Winzerverein Hoheburg: 3.500 Liter Riesling-Eiswein from the Linsenbusch vineyard with approximately145° Oechsle
Vier Jahreszeiten Winzer (Bad Dürkheim): 4 Eisweins harvested at – 10 ° C this morning at 6am: Rieslaner-Eiswein with 190° Oechsle from Königswingert in Wachenheim, Ehrenfelser-Eiswein (185°) und Gewürztraminer-Eiswein (165°)from Fronhof in Bad Dürkeim and a Gewürztraminer-Eiswein with 170 ° Oechsle in from Schnepfenpflug in Forst.
Weingut Wegner (Bad Dürkheim): 230 Liter Chardonnay-Eiswein with 216 ° Oechsle harvested at -15 Celsius from the Dürkheimer Feuerberg vineyard. Will be produced as a Chardonnay Eiswein Barrique.
Weingut Winterling (Niederkirchen): Riesling-Eiswein approximately180 ° Oechsle Weingut J. Zöller (Kirrweiler): approximately 200 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 200 ° Oechsle harvested from the vineyard Kirrweiler Oberschloß at – 15 ° C .
Weingut Norbert Barth (Hattenheim): 50 Liter Eiswein harvested at -8 ° C. Riesling Eiswein with 180 to 200 ° C Oechsle.
Weingut Reiner Flick (Wicker): 200 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 160 to 170 ° Oechsle harvested at – 7 ° C from Mönchsgewann in Wicker. This is the 15th eiswein Harvest for the winery.
Weingut J. Koegler (Eltville): 120 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 230° Oechsle.
Weingut Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern (Eltville): Riesling Eiswein from the Eltviller Sonnenberg (Erste Gewächslage) vineyard with 160° Oechsle.
Weingut Schönleber-Blümlein (Oestrich-Winkel): 120 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 265° Oechsle. Harvested on Saturday at -12.5 ° C from Winkeler Gutenberg. On of the 10 highest must-weights of the vintage.
Weingut Spreitzer (Oestrich): Riesling-Eiswein with 260 ° Oechsle harvested at – 15 ° C. This is so far the 5th highest must-weight of the vintage.
Weingut Jean Buscher (Bechtheim): 180 Liter Weissburgunder-Eiswein with 205° Oechsle, 160 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 220° Oechlse. And 50 Liter Eiswein from Südtiroler Nobel grape Rosenmuskateller with 180° Oechsle. All harvested on Saturday at – 15 ° C.
Weingut Ernst Fischer (Bingen-Dromersheim): approximately 250 to 300 Liter Grauburgunder-Eiswein with 183 ° Oechsle.
Weingut Schales (Flörsheim-Dalsheim): 500 to 600 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 160° Oechsle. This is the 55th vintage of Eiswein for this winery.
Weingut Peter Schreiber (Gundheim): Scheurebe-Eiswein und Huxelrebe-Eiswein with 150 to 190 ° Oechsle from the Bermersheimer Hasenlauf vineyard.
Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt (Wiltingen): 500 Liter Riesling-Eiswein harvested at -8 ° C with 130 ° C Oechsle.
Weingut Graf Adelmann (Kleinbottwar): 250 Liter Kleinbottwarer Muskattrollinger-Eiswein from Oberer Berg with 140 G° C Oechsle, harvested at – 11 ° C.
Weingut Gerhard Aldinger (Fellbach): Riesling-Eiswein with 190° Oechsle harvested at – 10.5 ° C from Fellbacher Goldberg.
Weingut am Stein (Würzburg): Riesling- und Silvaner-Eiswein with 220° Oechsle harvested at – 17 ° C from Stettener Stein vineyard.
Weingut Drautz-Able (Heilbronn): 70 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 270 ° Oechsle (after pressing the reading was 310° Oeschsle) harvested at – 15 ° C from Heilbronner Stiftsberg.
Weingut Jürgen Ellwanger (Winterbach): 150 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 190° Oechsle, harvested from Hungerberg vineyard at -11 ° C.
Fellbacher Weingärtner eG: 200 Liter Riesling-Eiswein harvested at -11 ° C Celsius from the Lämmler vineyard with 175° Oechsle.
Felsengartenkellerei (Hessigheim): Riesling-Eiswein with 216° Oechsle.
Weingut Gemmrich (Beilstein): approximately 300 Liter Cabernet Cubin-Eiswein with approximately 190 to 220 ° Oechsle from Beilsteiner Wartberg, harvested at 5am at -12 ° C.
Weingut Gruber (Obersulm-Eschenau): 130 Liter Johanniter-Eiswein with 252° Oechsle harvested Saturday at – 18 ° C from Gewann Hetzlesberg.
Weingut Hans Haidle (Kernen-Stetten): 80 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 210 ° Oechsle harvested from the Stettener Pulvermächer vineyard at -12 ° C
Weingärtnergenossenschaft Heuholz (Pfedelbach): 300 to 400 Liter Riesling-Eiswein with 197 ° C Oechsle harvested at -11 ° C between 10 and 11am with only 20 hand harvesters.
Weingut Michael Schiefer (Lauffen a.N.): 100 Liter Kerner-Eiswein with 224° Oechsle. This is the first Eiswein vintage for this winery.
Weinkellerei Wangler (Abstatt): approximately 400 Liter Lemberger-Eiswein with approximately 225° Oechsle (the first pressing had levels as high as 260° Oechsle) harvested Sunday at 6am by temperatures of -18 ° C Celsius from the Abstatter Burgberg vineyard.
Staatsweingut Weinsberg: Riesling-Eiswein with 184 ° Oechsle harvested at – 11°Celsius.
ChrisO the “geek”