The Canadian tasting was clearly and articulately presented by Keith Bown, who is vice president for winemaking for Vincor, part of Constellation Brands. I found the section on ice wines the most interesting, in part because it briefly raised the question of cryoextraction, which is banned in the making for all Canadian ice wine. I talked to Keith about cryoextraction after the tasting to find out whether he had had any experience of the process.
Keith has made ice wine in New Jersey using cryoextraction. "We would pick at normal ripeness, say 12%-13%, and then select some of the grapes and them into the freezer." Keith said that cryoextraction does involve concentration. Of course there is no suggestion that the grapes for Quarts de Chaume at Domaine des Baumard are picked as low as 12%-13%.
At the tasting Keith showed four ice wines: 2008 Inniskillin Ontario Riesling Icewine, 2007 Jackson Triggs British Columbia Riesling Icewine, 2008 Inniskillin British Columbia Tempranillo and an unusual 2010 Inniskillin Ontario Sparkling Icewine. My favourite was the 2008 Inniskillin Ontario Riesling with its marked apricot and citric character and precise, clean length. The sparkling ice wine, which is made using the Charmat method was intriguing but, at £65 for a half bottle, an expensive curiosity! Keith admitted that the Tempranillo was a rather desperate experiment. It was the first year crop from their Tempranillo and they couldn't get it ripe enough to make a red so decided to leave it to make ice wine. It is an experiment they haven't tried again!
Although no Vidal ice wine was shown, Keith explained that the picking process for Vidal is different from that used for Riesling, Cabernet Franc etc. Those latter varieties are picked as soon as the temperature gets low enough. Instead for Vidal, which has a very thick skin, they wait for the grapes to freeze a number of times on the vine so that the cell structure starts to break down making it easier to press the grapes.