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Icewine in the Penedes: The First Electrically Defined Wine

<rant>Twitter this past two days has been flooded with news that the Penedes region of Spain has approved a new DO for the category of Icewine. Reporting in Decanter Magazine, David Furer states:

In Penedes grapes are frozen in a cold room, refrigerator, or with dry ice. Freezing on the vines is allowed, but in practice seldom takes place. Sugar additions are forbidden.

The harvested grapes – Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Malvasia de Sitges, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel de Alejandría, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and/or Merlot – must have a minimum of 240 grams per litre of sugar.

The final wine must contain 70-150g/l residual sugar and an alcohol content of 9.5-13.5%. Currently there are no rules stipulating altitude or soil type.

Everyone seems amazed that this is going on and that it is news. Yawn. We’ve been drinking Gramona’s ‘icewine’ for many years here at Catavino HQ. Being fans of the stickies, it is a nice, well made sweet wine from down the road; one that was always a bit quirky and something to show off to friends and family when they were in town, or even to bring as a gift, the obligatory conversation piece for the wine geeks.

Regardless they have been making it for a long time. Here watch this video to see how they fake the icewine process:

Anyways my point is this. First up it’s not really icewine, and even if you call it icewine, it’s a freakshow, and something that beyond getting the fruit right with enough sugars, anyone can make. It’s a quirky wine that like Mistela, or some random sparkling red wine experiment that we occasionally run into here in Spain. It’s a wine that gives a winery personality. However, this is NOT is a reason to create a whole new layer of bureaucracy to dump more producer money into when they have enough trouble as it is marketing and selling their wines.

Spain is in CRISIS! Yes it’s true, a serious CRISIS! Banks own more vineyards today in Spain than most care to admit, and it’s not getting better. And I’m willing to bet that much of this year’s harvest is going to be left to hang on the vines, rotting away as more and more wineries are incapable of paying their harvest dues.

Spain, listen up. Stop trying to create more problems by wasting money on new DO’s. DO Vino Dulce de Hielo will NEVER be a top wine style/brand in the greater wine world. I enjoy the few examples that exist, but in a country that is getting warmer every year, and were producers are looking for higher ground to plant their vines due to climate change, do we really need a new wine category that requires electricity just to produce it? Maybe we should call this new DO: DO Vino de Electricidad? It is the first wine I know that cannot be made without the power outlet.</rant>

Ryan Opaz

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  • CusCus

    What a lovely idea: e-wine. Sounds so cool :)

    • David Furer

      Hey Ryan. While those of us fortunate enough to be based in Spain, and in the bull-loving autonomous region of Catalunya no less, are accustomed to Snr. Gramona's creations the greater wine world isn't. As well, and whether we agree or not, it is news that he chased up the authorities and got his creation enshrined into law. Following my posting I had a frank back&forth with a key figure at Canada's Vincor about this subject. Let me know if you'd like the transcript; I've already been given dispensation from my correspondent to share it with the wine world. Warm regards from sweltering Texas, David

  • Davidccopp

    Ryan

    I agree with your comments about Spain registering DOs that may be considered by some to be an attempt to ‘pass off’ one style of wine for another. Like David Furer I have spoken to a major Canadian producer of Icewine who wonders if the Penedes authorities have thought this through.

    Is it true that the Spanish have some wine trading agreement with the Chinese and this is part of a process of taking advantage of the popularity of Canadian Icewine in China?

    I wonder what the Spanish may think of Canadian Rioka.

    david copp

  • http://www.longfengwines.com Edward Ragg

    To follow up on David Copp’s query: to my knowledge there is no trade agreement or wine-related understanding between China and Spain. Chile and New Zealand, by contrast, do have free trade agreements with China. Certainly, Ice Wine is a relatively popular category by value in China (I’m referring to genuine VQA-approved Canadian Ice Wine). There are various ‘Chinese Ice Wines’, but few are made by the strict method and many are just manipulated examples.