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First Canadian Icewine Tasting in Russia

For the first time in Russia, during the PRODEXPO-2006 Trade Show, Canadian Icewines were presented for sampling at the Canada Booth. This event was organized by the Icewine Info and the Guide Hachette des Vins (France)/ Publishing House Digest (Russia) with the support of the Wine Council of Ontario, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Embassy in Moscow.

Guide Hachette des Vins is recognized as the premier wine guide in the world. A special chapter is devoted to Canadian Icewines. The selection from different provinces included in the chapter was chosen based on a blind tasting by a panel of experts. Ontario took this opportunity to present some its finest Icewines.

The tasting was lead by Charles Pillitteri, Vice-Chairman of the Wine Council of Ontario’s Export Committee and Alexandre Mounine-Pinson, Canadian wine journalist and publisher of Icewine Info.

The leading producers of Icewine such as Cave Spring Cellars, Chateau des Charmes Wines, Inniskillin Wines, Reif Estate Winery, Royal DeMaria Wines, Lakeview Cellars Estate Winery and Pillitteri Estate Winery were present at the tasting with one Icewine each. Each of the participants was included in the 2005 Hachette Wine Guide.

Inniskillin Vidal Oaked Aged Icewine 1997 VQA. This is an outstanding wine from the world famous producer. The very elegant wine possesses amazing freshness and aroma of tropical fruit (mango, leeches, papaya), apricots, with hints of honey. This Icewine is ready to drink now, after almost ten years of ageing. This Icewine of this producer was awarded a star in the Guide Hachette des Vins.

Reif Vidal Icewine 2003 VQA on the contrary never underwent any oak barrel - ageing. This Icewine amazes with the freshness and powerful aroma of tropical fruit (it is typical for Icewines from Vidal grapes), however the wine should age further for no less than 8-10 ten years. This Icewine of this producer was awarded 2 stars in The Guide Hachette des Vins 2005.

Cave Spring Riesling Icewine 2004 VQA rich with aromas of ripe pear, dry apricot and raisins, with spicy nuances. It is superbly balanced. It can easily be aged another 10 years and will likely improve. The Icewine of this producer was awarded the honor of 3 stars and a picture of the label in the Guide Hachette des Vins 2005.

Château des Charmes Riesling Paul Bosc Estate Icewine 2001 VQA. This Icewine illustrates the skills of the Bosc family winemakers. This is one of the most outstanding wines presented at the tasting. Apricot and honey with petrol and honeycomb nuances, amazing balance and integrity, vivacity, and a surprising length. This Icewine of this producer was awarded 2 stars and a picture of the label in the Guide Hachette des Vins 2005.

Royal DeMaria Chardonnay Icewine 2000 VQA. Joseph DeMaria , the wine maker and owner Royal DeMaria, is a true experimenter and innovator. Royal DeMaria produces exclusively Icewines, which are highly esteemed by collectors and connoisseurs. Their Icewines begin at C$300 for a 375 ml bottle (standard Icewine bottle size). This rare Icewine was awarded a star in the Guide Hachette des Vins 2005.

Lakeview Cellars Estate Gewürztraminer Icewine 2002 VQA. A very delicate wine with character. Pleasant aromas of apricot and nuances of honey are easily recognizable. On the palate smooth spices and caramel, delightful medium long finish. This unusual Icewine made from Gewürztraminer will make for an interesting comparison with Eiswein/Icewines from Germany or Austria already available in Russia.

Pillitteri Estate Cabernet Franc Icewine 2002 VQA presented an Icewine made from red grapes, a magnificent wine from one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Icewine. Three of Pillitteri Estate’s wines are mentioned in the Guide Hachette des Vins 2005; one was awarded a deserved star.

Icewine is produced from ripe grapes left on the vine well past the regular harvest and into the winter. When subzero temperatures start freezing the grapes, most of the water turns solid, leaving the sweet, fructose-laden and flavorful center concentrated with aromas. For this phenomenon to occur, the temperature must be - 8 C for at least 24 hours.

Pickers harvest Icewine grapes at freezing (- 8 C) temperatures before sunrise, and winemakers basket-press them immediately to ensure satisfactory results. The wines possess amazing balance, elegance and vivacity, despite the high levels of natural sugar, in average 190-225 grams per litre.

Canada is the world’s largest manufacturer of Icewine and makes much more than all the other countries put together. The vinification process is strictly regulated by the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), with federal official status. The production of Icewine requires 10 times more grapes than needed for dry wine; these wines are perfectly balanced and quite expensive (60 to100 euros for a 375 ml or 200 ml bottle).

Currently, only Inniskillin Wines are available in Russia. Other Canadian wine producers are looking for importers of their elite wines.

For more information on Ontario Icewines please visit:

Wine Council of Ontario — www.wineroute.com

Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA — www.vqaontario.com

Icewine Info — www.icewine.info

Guide Hachette des Vins/ Digest Russia  — www.leguide.ru

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