Wine Review: Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve 2007 Vidal Icewine

Last weekend I felt like I was in college again. While I wasn’t an outstanding debauch in my early twenties, there were occurrences of not-so-well-mannered behavior. Such instances could easily (and often were) blamed on alcohol. What else was there to do in a city like Reno? Not much.

Since then, however – perhaps as a result of age or (shudder) maturity – I’ve slowed down some. My libation rituals were now the relaxed sort, and more importantly, the drinks had to taste good. Maybe it was the threat of an impending Rapture, or mockery toward the claim, but this last weekend…I partied. Hard.

Being in my mid-thirtysomethings has allowed me to develop certain, how shall we say, “expected refinements”. Beverages of the “whoo!” sort had to possess some redeeming palate quality. Crafted beers were better than macrobrews. Aged scotches were better than young. That sort of thing. All of that went out the window after the first Irish Car Bomb.

There was one glimmer of partial snobbery during the proceedings, though. A friend at Rapture Party #2 had in their possession a type of wine that was on my to-drink list. One that I learned of through a tea blend, no less; the much-touted Canadian ice wine.

Ice wine – as I understand it – is made from grapes that are harvested while they’re still frozen on the vine. While the grape itself is not frozen, the water within is, lending to a higher concentration of sugars from the grape…uh…juice to be pressed. The process of extracting said “must” requires delicacy.

First attempts at using frozen grapes for wine production date back as early as Roman times. However, it is believed that the first “eiswein” wasn’t produced until the 1790s. First recorded cases sprang up in 1830. Many found it to their liking, but further creation was a rare occurrence in Germany mainly due to labor intensiveness. The invention of the pneumatic bladder press (circa 1960s-ish) made production of ice wine on a larger scale more practical; Canada followed suit much later in the 1980s

The one my friend had picked up was from the Niagara Estate, part of the Jackson-Triggs family of wineries. It was an ’07 vintage and dubbed a “proprietors’ reserve”. I had no idea what that meant. I assumed it was fancy wino talk for “this-shit’s-expensive”. ┬áVidal was the varietal of grape used – a white wine hybrid between Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano, also used for Cognac) and Rayon d’Or (a rare grape that shared a name with a racehorse. No joke.) Said hybrid is mentioned as being well-suited to the icing process.

The liquor was gold-to-amber in appearance with a very “port”-like aroma – extremely pungent in its sweetness. It looked like no white wine I’ve ever encountered. If anything, on sight alone, it had the consistency of a flat pilsner but with a much better aroma. To the taste, wow…just wow. Sugar punched my tongue into submission, threatening a diabetic liquid coma. And that was just the sipdown.

Once the blunt introduction (and metaphoric cavity) subsided, it transitioned into a honey-textured, mango-rich top note that lingered on well into a creamy finish. This wasn’t white wine. Hell, this wasn’t even dessert wine. I know what this reminded me of. Mead. Straight, sweet, kick-your-arse mead – the kind waxed poetic in fantasy novels and Dark Age bar settings.

Before I knew it, I had polished off two-thirds of the bottle. I felt extremely guilty for doing so. The female friend that had provided it said she was just glad I enjoyed it as much as I did. This required further study and further sip-age. Return dips to the ice wine trough, though, were way out of budget. Until I possess the necessary funds to justify this expensive palate pleaser, I’ll settle with ordinary Vidal.

But…damn…that was good.

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Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 Beverage Blog

11 Comments to Wine Review: Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve 2007 Vidal Icewine

  1. heh heh… Irish Car Bombs…

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