There are many perks to living in Central New York--really. Affordable housing, beautiful topography, an ideal place to spend your "past peak oil" years, and, of course access to great wine. Lots of places can claim that last one--wine is being made in all 50 states--but they can't all claim to be producers of delicious, authentic, ice wine. Let's hear it for lake effect snow and freezing temps!
Okay, maybe not. But the ice wine is still a wonderful thing and Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards on Seneca Lake makes a fine one. I had not even heard of ice wine when I tasted it on our big Seneca Lake wine tour over a year ago but once I did, I had to have it. Ice wine, true ice wine, (allow me this purist tendency) is made when grapes are allowed to freeze on the vine and then are harvested with an unusually high sugar content. I've not tasted the kind of ice wine that is made by freezing grapes in a commercial freezer but living in the northeast should mean having access to the real thing.
Problem is, you can't get this kind of ice wine every year. The bottle I purchased in 2005 was a 2003 vintage and Wiemer has yet come out with another one. This is what you might call a limited release kind of wine and so I plan on enjoying every sip of my little bottle (375ml). My little bottle that I paid $40 for. And yes, it is worth it.
But you have to like it sweet. You don't have to know that this Riesling had over 32% sugar at harvesting. You don't have to know how low the alcohol levels is--some 9.5%. All you have to do is pour this full bodied golden nectar into the glass to know that you are in for a sweet treat. This might be the only time when the descriptor "fruit bomb" is a good thing. I tasted notes of pineapple and honey which, when paired with a chocolate cake, smoothed out and even allowed a slightly puckery (in a good way) citrus note to emerge.
Unfortunately, the winery is sold out of this wine but you might still be able to find it in wine shops that carry New York State wines--and Wiemer is relatively easy to find as it goes. If you're looking for a nice dessert wine or something to serve with a cheese course, this is worth seeking out. Maybe this will be the year when another bottling comes out. And if you don't stumble upon a Hermann J. Wiemer release, check out other Finger Lakes or Canadian wineries. You know how that lake effect is--all of our little microclimates might mean that another winery had a banner year for ice wine.
Thanks to Kitchen Chick for suggesting this theme and hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday.
Hermann J. Wiemer 2003 Select Late Harvest Riesling Ice Wine, $40.