Creation of new Spanish ice wine approved

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The Spanish area of Penedès has become the first European appellation to approve the creation of ice wine by artificial freezing methods; the newly approved ice wine, Vino Dulce de Hielo, will be available from the 2009 vintage.

A Spanish ice wine DO (Denominación de Origen) has been approved for the first time, reported wine industry magazine Decanter on July 22. The ice wine is from the Penedès area in the Catalonian region, of Spain, approximately an hour south of Barcelona.

Ice wine is normally manufactured in the traditional ice wine areas of Germany, Austria and Canada by leaving the grapes to freeze on the vine. However Penedès has become the first European appellation to allow ice wine to be produced by artificially freezing the grapes.

Traditional manufacturers of ice wines must wait until the grapes have been frozen at a temperature of below -6 Celsius (20F) for a number of days before harvesting; however the newly approved Spanish ice wine, DO Vino Dulce de Hielo or Vi Dolç del Fred, is created by freezing the grapes in either a cold room or on dry ice in a refrigerator. Several internet wine blogs, such as thewinecultureproject.com, argue that artificial freezing detracts from the traditional skills needed to produce ice wine.  

The harvested grapes - Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Malvasia de Sitiges, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel de Alejandria, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and/or Merlot - and the final wine must therefore contain 70/150 g/l of residual sugar with alcohol content between 9.5-13 percent.

Ice wines are dessert wines with a very sweet and concentrated taste, which is created when the water within the grapes freezes but the sugars which don't are separated off.

The new DO Vino Dulce de Hielo or Vi Dolç del Fred will apply starting with the 2009 vintage. Cava producer Jaime Gramona is the only previous maker of Spanish ice wine, with the creation of Vi De Gel, which is available in both Gewürztraminer and Riesling varieties and retails for around 15.36 € ($19.87) per 375ml.

The laborious traditional production methods used in ice wine can make the drink expensive: prices for ice wines manufactured in traditional areas such as Germany or Canada can range from €154 ($200)/375ml for wines such as the 2000 vintage Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Eiswein to €50 ($66)/375ml bottle for wines such as the 1999 Paradise Ranch Chardonnay Okanagan Valley Ice wine.

The site www.vinissimus.com has a number of ice wines and will deliver throughout Europe.

Worldwide wine merchant comparision and wine purchasing site www.snooth.com includes ice wines among products offered.

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