Ice, Ice, Baby, Two Cold: A pair of Sheldrake Point ice wines

29 January 2010
By Tom Mansell

Recently, I had a chance to “help” with (more like “observe”) the Sheldrake Point ice wine harvest. I picked a few grapes then helped get them into the press for a two-part feature I would write for the New York Cork Report. I was given some sample bottles to aid in my efforts, which are reviewed below.

Sheldrake Point Cabernet Franc Ice Wine 2008

Two delicious ice wines.

Appellation: Finger Lakes
Grape: Cabernet Franc
ABV: 12.5%
RS: 16.2%
Price Point: $45
Closure: Natural cork

Technical Notes: Harvested January-February of 2008, so really grapes from the 2007 vintage. Frozen on the vine and pressed while still frozen. Averaged about 39 Brix after pressing. Final TA: 8 g/L.

Hedonic Notes: Beautiful color, a salmony red. In Strawberry City, this wine is the mayor. Dried strawberry character on the nose, like you’d find in a granola bar. Some spicy character on the nose as well. Mouth-coating but not overly syrupy. You can tell that it’s wine as alcohol definitely registers. Sweet (duh) but the sweetness is parried by acidity. Finishes like old-timey candy, like a mix of strawberry hard candy (those ones that the wrapper looked like a strawberry) and a honey stick.

Rating: corkcorkcorknocorknocork 3 out of 5 corks for a unique wine that’s fruity and balanced.

Sheldrake Point Riesling Ice Wine 2007

This was practically the first review I ever wrote for the blog, and amazingly it pretty much matches up with my tasting notes this time around. The first review is reproduced here for your convenience.

Sheldrake Point 2007 Riesling Ice Wine
Grape: Riesling
ABV: 12.6%
Residual Sugar: 16.5% (165 g/L)
Appellation: Finger Lakes
Price point: $65 for 375 mL (half-bottle)
The 2007 looks pretty much like any normal riesling would, pale yellow in color, though noticeably thicker in the glass on swirling. It also smells like a Finger Lakes riesling, with characteristic light floral and citrus notes. Also, it’s got a little stonefruit (I wrote “peach”) and pineapple thrown in there. On the palate, lively acidity stands up to the considerable sweetness very well, for a very fresh, zingy feeling. Lemon and lime join the party on the palate, kind of like Sprite. (Interestingly, all of these wines have quite a bit more sugar than Sprite [~110 g/L]). Really great, and not just for dessert. This {well-balanced} wine plays nicely with blue cheese and walnuts, and would likely compliment spicy foods (e.g., Thai or Indian) pretty well.
Rating: 3.5 corks corkcorkcorkhalfcork

In addition, some technical notes on this one: TA 11.2 g/L (that explains the “lively acidity” I suppose). Surprisingly high for an ice wine, but it’s a real asset in this case. 38 Brix at pressing. The current info I have notes the RS at 18%, which is also what it says on the bottle itself.

Like I said, on retasting, I agree with all these notes. I would add that the tiniest bit of oxidation (barely noticeable) creeps in on the tail end of a very long finish, but overall it’s an excellent wine.

I covered a bit on the science of ice wine production in 2 articles for the New York Cork Report. They can be found here:

Ice Wine Science Part 1: Volatile Issues treats the overall practice of harvesting ice wine grapes, and the somewhat surprising reason that ice wines and other high-Brix wines can have high {volatile acidity}.

Ice Wine Science Part 2: Frozen assets tackles the honey-like mouthfeel and unique aroma compounds that ice wine brings to the table.

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4 Responses to Ice, Ice, Baby, Two Cold: A pair of Sheldrake Point ice wines

  1. John on 29 January 2010 at 7:43 am

    Glad to have you back. Can we start expecting regular posts again?

  2. Jason Weaver on 31 January 2010 at 9:50 am

    I’ve never tried an ice wine made with Cabernet Franc. Sounds really interesting. Is this a common varietal in Finger Lakes for making sweet wine?

    I’m a Wine Steward for a Bistro in Texas and would love to represent the Finger Lakes on my sweet wine list.

  3. Tom Mansell on 1 February 2010 at 1:01 pm

    John: Goal is guaranteed MWF posts, with hopefully some in between.

    Jason: I can think of a couple of other Cabernet Franc “iced” wines produced in the Finger Lakes. Lucas Vineyards and Fulkerson Winery come to mind. However, these are commercially frozen after harvest, where Sheldrake Point does it the traditional way. It’s a unique experience, and Sheldrake’s is definitely the best example of Cabernet Franc ice-style wine i’ve had. That being said, I don’t think it’s a big seller (probably because people have never had it before) and is way outsold by their Riesling ice wine.

    As for other Finger Lakes stickies, Anthony Road makes delicious BA and TBA-style wines from Vignoles (BA) and Riesling
    (BA and TBA).

    Finally, I would contend that you could also augment the quality of your wine list with Finger Lakes dry wines as well…

  4. Jason Weaver on 1 February 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for the info Tom. Good stuff here.

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