Canadians delight in definition for icewine

Canadians delight in definition for icewine News Wine News
  • Thursday 14 August 2003

Canadian producers are applauding the creation of an international definition for icewine after 15 years of hard lobbying.

The definition has been proposed by the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) and is expected to be made official next month.

In a major triumph for Canada, it prohibits wines made from artificially frozen grapes calling themselves icewine, or its alternative names 'vin de glace' and 'eiswein'. Canada, though not a member of the OIV, has lobbied hard for the ban, arguing artificially frozen wine - which is typically lower priced and lower quality - represents a threat to the icewine market.

Along with Austria and Germany, Canada is a leading producer of icewine made from naturally frozen grapes.

'The importance of this decision is that the OIV has finally agreed to a definition of icewine that is not too far off our own,' William Ross, president of the Canadian Vintners Association, said. 'It provides a European, if not world minimum definition of icewine by a key multilateral wine standards body.'

In the proposal, which faced resistance from some OIV members, icewine is defined as 'wine made exclusively from the fermentation of fresh grapes having undergone cryoselection in the vineyard without recourse to physical procedures'. It also states that 'the grapes used for the production of icewine must be frozen during the harvest and be pressed in this state.' Minimum harvest temperature is -7ºC, one degree higher than the Canadian minimum.

Wine laws in Canada, Germany and Austria already prohibit artificial freezing or so-called cryoextraction, for icewine. However, the US and Switzerland have long made no distinction, though Swiss producers generally identify such wines by printing 'cryo' on the label, and new labelling laws in the US limit the term icewine to wines made from naturally frozen grapes.

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