Andy, Assistant Marketing Director at Hunt Country Vineyards, here. Looking forward to this foray into new territory. Ask me anything…I might even have an answer for you!
Damn. Finally something right up my alley, and no shipping to SC.
So if we wanted to cellar these for a while, how long can the cellar for? That is, what would be their drink by date?
LAB RAT REPORT
Hunt Country 2007 Vidal Blanc Estate Bottled Ice Wine (blue bottle)
First let me set the scene and create the ambiance with a disclaimer. I am a neuroscientist with an extensive knowledge of craft beer. So be prepared for some science diversions and beer connections.
I pull the bottle out and see it is an ice wine and my heart sinks. I am not a sweet taste person. I drink my coffee black and adore overly hopped IPAs. But this will be a good opportunity for me to think outside the box and expand my horizons. I’ve had ice wines at a few vineyards in the US, but I’ve never been able to taste much beyond the cloying sweetness.
The bottle gets chilled for a bit in my freezer. The ice wine pours a beautiful golden color - like an Austrian Pilsner minus the carbonation and head. The bottle and cork smell of pineapples - no hint of booze. While the density is thicker, it is not too thick or syrupy.
The nose is really amazing. I love the tropical fruit smell - like pineapple and dried apricots making love. Okay, maybe that is a bit much - but I’m drawn to it and I appreciate that it is a very natural smell that is not too cloying or boozy.
First sip - I only taste the sweetness. It feels like syrup on my tongue and sliding down my throat. Ick. Just as I had feared! But before I can allow myself to admit another ice wine defeat , I take another sip. This time I get the symphony! There is a fruit “burst” on my tongue. Singing in the taste buds. My taste buds stand up at attention and get excited. It is the tropical fruits with this citric acid-y (in a good way) taste that gives me something akin to a Pavlovian salivary response. It is like having a very good dry wine or a subtly sour beer - it makes your tongue crave more. I’m totally blown away by how different it is from my first sip.
My subsequent sips make me forget the original syrupy sweet transgression and my tongue continues to stay enchanted. It is almost refreshing like cold apple juice - I think it is something akin to citric acid. It calls me to drink more. But what about food pairings?!? Often with high residual sugar beers, people pair them with sweet things - this is also how I’ve had ice wines in the past. But the idea of something sweet now sounds like sacrilege! Instead I pick up some Wheat Thins and some Parmesan (just the store brand shredded in a pouch - nothing fancy but def better than the powdered mess from a can). The saltiness is like the conductor to the symphony on my tongue (yes, I realize how cheesy that sounds). The counter point is amazing to me - and it just further enhances the pineapple and the juiciness of the wine. I could imagine this served with any good salty, hard cheese - maybe an aged Manchego or some Parmesan not sold in a pouch? With high quality cheese, I can imagine nothing short of the Overture of 1812 complete with fireworks. It would be a great end of meal nibble or an afternoon reprieve. Then I try the wine with a dense Ghirardelli chocolate brownie- just to make sure I’m not missing anything. The combination makes me sick in my stomach and takes away the symphony and replaces it with syrup. Definitely not a pairing for my tongue - although I can imagine others might have a different experience if their tongues are more tuned to the sweetness chord.
After 20 minutes in the glass, no further enhancements were made in the wine that were perceptible to me. But while it warmed up I liked it no less - I was still under its spell.
Bottom line: Ice wines are certainly not my favorite beverage, but this one enchanted me when I was expecting something more like drinking flavored simple syrup.
Thanks be to the wine woot gods for gifting me this extraordinary opportunity! And thanks also to those who have made it through my intense diatribe - I hope you find it helpful, if not amusing.
PS I’m having some friends over tonight (Friday) and I will try to solicit a few more opinions to share. I want to see if anyone else gets a symphony or if their tongues only hear sad 80s ballads…
How does this Vidal compare/contrast to Inniskillin’s Vidal Ice Wine?
Dessert wines, as long as they’re stored in a cool, dry place, cellar really well. It wouldn’t be outlandish to keep them for another 3-5 years. Make sure to store them upside-down on our their sides; we do use natural corks in these bottles!
As a newbie labrat, I was glad to see the 2007 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine delivered to my doorstep. Immediately opened the bottle and gazed at the honey colored wine. The aroma was of honey and pears. The taste reinforced the aroma but also had a hint of pineapple. The sweetness reminded me that it would be a great wine for dessert. I paired the wine with some cherry pie and ice cream, the flavors went together perfectly. Must say, I was impressed.
I was thinking the same thing. Except that I’m in Iowa, which is a state that allows direct shipping of wine to customers, and I’ve ordered from Wine.woot a few times before with no issues. Yet today it’s not on their list for some reason.
Wow winery involvement right from the start, impressive:) glad there’s other crazy east coasters still awake at 1am on a work night like me!
Share some links: tasting notes on the vidal de blanc here.
As a New Englander who went to college in upstate NY I’m intrigued that Woot finally got to feature wine from this region! Because of my copious spending on the Woot-off I am on the fence for now…I’m going to be interested to see what the rats have to say about this one…
Edit: and while I was hunting up links, the labrats already started checking in! Awesome, and encouraging thus far:)
Now I wish I hadn’t gone in three times during the woot-off. Finger Lakes is an autobuy for me (and worldofjohnboy, I imagine).
Looks like this winery is on the west fork of Keuka Lake, just opposite our coffee roasting friends.
Have a great sale. I’ll be in as soon as I convince SWMBO that I’m not a complete alcoholic.
Oh now this is an interesting offering. I’ve been wanting to get some Ice Wines but they’ve always been (in my opinion) unreasonably priced. I’ll be interested to read some of the commentary this go around and see if I can talk myself (or is it out of?) a set of these.
Nice job on first suckage Sparky.
A short explanation on shipping…we try and add each state as it opens its doors to direct shipping. While Iowa & South Carolina do have shipping permits in place, we have not yet been gratned our license to ship to those states. Iowa was a recent addition (they used to be a reciprocal state) and South Carolina will only grant 2 year permits on an even year cycle. Trust me…it only gets more confusing! I’m so sorry that we can’t ship to everyone on here today…don’t worry, you are on our list for the future!
Side note: many of our customers in Iowa & South Carolina have our wine shipped to family and/or friends in neighboring states where we are licensed to ship…just saying
You’re entire post reminded me of Amadeus. I don’t even drink wine (yet I read comments on wine.woot on a daily basis), but that was a great review. I can only hope my palate gets to that point some day with beer.
I’m curious, have you ever tried any Boulevard beers from Kansas City? If so what did you think?
“from the vineyard that brings ice wine to the White House” but you can’t order it in DC.
Finally! My insomnia actually pays off!!
We can ship direct to customers in DC. But you’re right, we don’t have a distributor in DC to sell to restaurants or liquor stores at this time…
wow, a place close to me.
too bad i dont care for dessert wines