Monday, February 28, 2011

Apfel Ice Wine from Stil River Winery, in Harvard, Massachusetts

The Canadians, those quiet people who live upstairs, perfected the German Eiswine over the last two decades, and made their country almost synonymous with exceptional ice wines the world over. Then someone up there decided to turn apple wine into Eiswine, and they came up with something really impressive.

But New England is one of the apple capitals of North America. And Still River Winery, in Harvard, Massachusetts has made a very nice ice apple wine called Apfel Eis.

The original ice wine perfected by the Germans and Canadians is made from grapes that have remained on the vine past the first frost. When the grapes freeze, the frozen water crystals separate out, resulting in a more concentrated juice – more sugar, more acid, more flavor. Fermentation of this concentrated must produces a deliciously sweet wine. Achieving concentration is labor intensive, and output is relatively low, so ice wines tend to be quite expensive.
Still River Winery's Apfel Eis was recently awarded:
- Double Gold Medal at the 2010 International Eastern Wine Competition
- Gold Medal at the 2010 Grand Harvest Awards
- Gold Medal at the 2009 International Eastern Wine Competition
- Silver Medal at the 2009 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
- Silver Medal at the 2009 Big E North Gold Wine Competition
- Best Beverage at the 2009 Taste of Nashoba Valley
- Best Beverage at the 2009 Taste of Wachusett

According to Still River, "Apple ice wine was only recently “invented.” In 1990, Christian Barthomeuf, a French winemaker who had emigrated to Quebec, tried substituting the apple for the grape to make what the Quebecois call “cidre de glace” – ice cider. Barthomeuf reasoned that the apple was more at home on Canadian soil than the grape, and would therefore result in a better product."

The folks at Still River were inspired by this idea, and created Apfel Eis, an iced apple wine. We were driving from Boston, and decided to stop in at a fantastic wine shop, The Urban Grape in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where the owner introduced us to this wine.

Well, we brought it home, and opened it up the next week at a dinner with Hudson Valley winemakers. Everyone was impressed. nice light version of the wine, with big, big fruit and sugar up front, but not too much, much like a fine Sauternes, and not too viscous, but with lots of acidity and a nice clean finish. A wonderful wine with cheese or fois gras or creme brulee'.

Very well done!