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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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