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Canada and Ice Wine with Bruce Walker

Bruce Walker chairs the Canadian Vintners Association and is a VP of Vincor, owners of Inniskillin winery and subsidiary of Constellation Brands, for government and industrial relations. We find out about the main Canadian wine regions and their world-famous Ice Wine.

In Canada there are 2 major regions - Niagara, a temperate region, due to proximity to the lakes with 25,000 acres of vineyard (located just above New York) and British Columbia with 10,000 acres of vineyard (just above Washington/Seattle). Inniskillin's Ice Wine is the most recognised Canadian Ice Wine around the world.

The Canadians have an appellation control system which they call VQA and Ice Wine must be made to VQA standards. By law, the temperature must be -8 centigrade for 48 hours before the grapes can be picked. All are hand-picked and pressed in the vineyard. The pressing removes the ice crystals and you end up with a single drop of liquid from a bunch of frozen grapes - it is called 'liquid gold' because it is so expensive. You lose 85-90% of the water from the grape. If you press in December (early winter) you get better quality and more yield from the grapes.

In 2003 an agreement was signed between Canada and the EU in which Canada agreed to phase out use of terms Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne etc. and Europe gave Canada access to European markets. There was also an agreement in 1997 between Germany, Austria and Canada recognising the different processes for making Ice Wine.

Vidal is the primary Ice Wine grape due to its thicker skin and complex, multi-flavour profile, e.g. apricots, mangoes. A small amount of Ice Wine is made from Cabernet Franc (5%). Riesling accounts for 15% of Ice Wine production and 85% is from Vidal.


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