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Penedes approves icewine

A Spanish icewine DO has been approved for the first time.

The region of Penedès has accepted the new DO Vino Dulce de Hielo or Vi Dolç del Fred.

This is the first European appellation to allow artificial freezing of grapes. This is forbidden in the traditional icewine regions of Germany, Austria – and Canada – where grapes must be left to freeze naturally on the vine.

In Germany, the grapes must be exposed to a temperature of minus 7 degrees or colder before harvesting; in Canada the temperature must drop to minus 8 degrees.

In Penedes grapes are frozen in a cold room, refrigerator, or with dry ice. Freezing on the vines is allowed, but in practice seldom takes place. Sugar additions are forbidden.

The harvested grapes – Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Malvasia de Sitges, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel de Alejandría, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and/or Merlot – must have a minimum of 240 grams per litre of sugar.

The final wine must contain 70-150g/l residual sugar and an alcohol content of 9.5-13.5%. Currently there are no rules stipulating altitude or soil type.

To date only noted Cava producer Jaime Gramona has made Spanish ice wine, although winemakers in Rioja and Utiel-Requena have made experimental batches.

Gramona’s ‘Vi de Gel’ has been made since 1997 with Riesling, Moscatel de Grano Menudo and Gewurztraminer as individual varietals, with occasional blending.

The new DO will apply from the 2009 vintage.

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Written by David Furer

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