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1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

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2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Cryoextraction in Australia = increasing sugar concentration

Domestic freezer

In the light of the controversy over cryoextraction/cryoextraction sélective and Domaine des Baumard's 2012 Quarts de Chaume, there was an interesting news story published on yesterday about a made 'ice-wine' in Western Australia. Clive Otto is in the process of making an 'ice wine' from grapes picked at 13.0˚ Baume (13.34% in potential alcohol. Freezing has raised the sugar level to between 17.0˚-21.5˚ Baume (in potential alcohol between 18.31% and 24.53%). 

This seems to indicate that in Australia, at least, as well as in Washington with the Pacific Rim Vineyards that the use of cryoextraction concentrates the sugars and can facilitate the making of sweet wine from grapes, which would not be sufficiently ripe to make sweet wine without freezing them.           

'Western Australia's first 'ice wine'
Monday 11 March 2013
by Danielle Costley
While Western Australian winemakers have been sweltering in soaring heats, Margaret River winemaker Clive Otto from Fraser Gallop Estate has been working in freezing temperatures to create his own 'ice wine.

Traditionally, ice wine is made in the cooler regions of central Europe and Canada from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine.

Otto is making a similar style of dessert wine by freezing late picked Chardonnay grapes overnight in a commercial freezer at -16C. The fruit, which was at 13.0º baume sugar levels prior to freezing, was then quickly pressed the following morning at a high pressure.

‘We were excited when we inserted a hydrometer into the juice and were getting sugar readings of 17º to 21.5º baume,’ Otto said.

Equally from the Pacific Rim Vineyards' blog on cryoextraction:
'The concentration process is fairly simple; when a grape gets frozen, the water freezes first and the sugar last – this is reversed when the grapes are thawed. If you follow me, when you thaw the grapes while pressing, you end up extracting all the sugar first, leaving the water frozen in the press thus concentrating your juice.'

On Wine Berserkers' forum there is a thread called Baumard "hits back" vs Jim Budd. Amongst the comments is one from Chris Kissack (the Wine Doctor) which is also reproduced on Chris' blog here. He provides a very clear statement of the issues involved. 

Some on Wine Berserkers have suggested that this is a very geeky controversy, which if you focus solely on the small but prestigious Quarts de Chaume may in part be true. I think, however, that the main issue is far more fundamental – namely the right of the consumer to be told the truth and to be confident that a product is what it says it. Surely this was the original motivation behind the establishment of France's appellation system: if you buy a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape the wine comes from Châteauneuf and it has been made according to agreed and legally binding rules.  

Put into a current context if you buy a 'beef' product it should contain beef and not horse. There may well be a market for horseburgers or horse lasagne but the labelling has to be very clear.  

Cryoextraction and the Quarts de Chaume décret 
There continues to be confusion over the legality of cryoextraction under the 2011 Décret. Section 9 bans any lowering of the temperature of the grapes below -5˚C. However, section 11 – 'mesures transitoires' (transitional arrangements) states that this ban will be applied from the 2020 vintage.

In this transitional arrangement producers can only lower the temperature of their grapes if they have satisfied the first requirement relating to the harvest: 'les vins sont issus de raisins récoltés à surmaturité (concentration naturelle sur pied avec présence ou non de pourriture noble).' (wines have to be made from grapes that have become extremely ripe on the vine; noble rot may or may not be present). 


Fabien Laine said...

Thanks Jim for this "refridgerating" wine from Australia and Quart de Chaumes relations to your previous post!
Great article once again, and I'm so pleased to read you! Some people tend today to play to much with technology! And personally I'm not fan at all, often kills appellations, kills noble product. That remind me of the "Molecular" way of cooking where people make for example some lollipops that taste Foie Gras and some other crazy transformations... I really dont find interest in those products and they dont respect the "noble" raw products. Most of the time the final product after transformation is shameless and lacking of personnality and taste... Sometime I ask myself what people get in their mind... Why would you wanna change the face of a nice delicate grape, wine, or truffle, or foie gras, or so on.... ? Innovation is good but dont go off the limits ;)

Dr. Christian G.E. Schiller said...

Very interesting article. More on cryoextraction wines here: There is also a recent case in Germany, where cryoextraction was used to make more powerful dry wines.

Jim Budd said...

Fabien and Christian: many thanks for your comments. Interesting to see that cryoextractio has also been used on dry white wines. Would be very interested in further details.

Hervé LALAU said...

I hope the Aussies won't allow this producer to market the wine as ice wine - freezer wine, may be.
But what do they do in Sauternes, by the way?

Jim Budd said...

Sauternes. It appears that cryoextraction is used. Not clear how widely.

However, I see no reason why the Loire should be bound by what practices Bordeaux use.

Hervé LALAU said...

Especially in their one and only Grand Cru... said...

Natural cryoextraction methods, eh.............

In Canada, where there are volumes of great Icewine made, there are very specific harvest conditions, minus 8 C and 35 deg Brix are the minimum qualifications, Cryo is illegal and not used anywhere in the country. As pointed out anyone with very ripe grapes (or not so ripe as is the problem in the Loire) can freeze them and produce a sweet/sweeter wine, which I see as the problem in France, California and other areas that want to use freezing as a way of increasing sugar in wine grapes, why not just dump in the sugar, also often illegal but widely used in parts of the world. (yes I know it’s often to hit the min Brix to get over 12% alc not to produce a sweet wine). Every season in Canada, which has 2 areas that produce Icewine, is variable, sometimes the Okanogan Valley in BC doesn’t hit the required minus 8 C until late Jan early Feb and the grapes are not so happy (they get ragged with freeze thaw cycles and long hang times), once in a while its early Nov and the grapes are in wonderful shape. Also when temps are lower than minus 8 and the volumes drop off as more ice is formed so grapes harvested at minus 10-11 “warm up” to minus 8 before the press, which takes place in the open reception area of the winery or outside, the harvest often starts in the night and is done with headlamps by the pickers.

Personally as I see how Canada Icewine made and regulated, I would say that some of the Quart de Chaumes producers are playing with the laws and at some point will lose. Those not producing in a bad year will win and down the road bottles made in the bad years using cryo will have an * by thier names in sales catalogues as the retailers may have the responsibility to tell thier clients even if the producers don’t.