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.
While this ‘ice pressed’ wine has never before been produced in WA, it is not Otto’s first foray into dessert wines, having spent many vintages making Botrytis Riesling and Cane Cut Semillon while at Vasse Felix winery.
‘I heard about a Tasmanian producer who is making an ‘iced’ Riesling with cryo-extraction methods, so I decided to use Chardonnay as it is growing on our estate.
‘Margaret River Chardonnays are already internationally recognised, so I believe an ‘ice pressed Chardonnay’ will be a nice point of difference,’ he added.
Written by Danielle Costley