Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Gift Ideas: Wine Club Membership + Ice Wine

The Perfect Gifts for Friends, Clientes, Wine Geeks

A Wine Club Experience
Have you ever belonged to a Wine Club?  We did several years ago and it was wonderful experience.  If we were to do it now we would do things a lot differently.  Many of the wines were very young.  Now we would store those wines for a few years before we began tasting.  It was the mistake made by us because we were inexperienced.

Still I would recommend it as a gift for your wine lover friend, family or even a cliente of your business.  Our favorite wine maker in the Willamette Valley is Cana's Feast.  They have a club called the Cellar Club.  It is so popular that, in many cases, their wines are reserved for the club member's only.  We found that out when we stopped to buy a bottle of their Bordeaux Style wine to be drunk for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  We were politely told no...but if we had been a member, the wine would have been made available.

In the last few years wine club memberships have become more and more popular.  So when you find a wine maker that never disappoints, you should take a look at the club membership and how it might work for you.

A New Wine Tasting Experience...Ice Wine
If you haven't tasted Ice Wine as an after dinner drink, you are missing a treat. A good true ice wine is sweet and satisfying when used as a dessert.  I love it.

We first saw ice wine in the Napa Valley.  In those regions where the frost comes very late in the fall, ice wine is very rare and therefore very valuable.  We were not offered a taste of ice wine but the wine tasting rooms had the bottles on the shelf beckoning us to purchase.  The prices are around $50.00 for a 375 ml bottle online today.
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe Ice Wine 2007 375ml $49.94
The price is driven up because wine makers further south gambled a plot of grapes in hopes that the grapes will freeze and not turn to mold or raisins!  The frozen grapes are sweeter and more intense...but the output from a frozen grape is also much lower than it's fresh predecessor long in the barrels aging.    As a result, you don't get to taste it in California.  Those producers of true ice wine are not only taking the rist of loosing acres of producing grapes but they are also getting less juice from the grapes.  It is a very expense test of nerves...or at least it used to be.

However, we are finding now that the vintners can freeze the grapes (cryoextractions) and come up with a factory standard ice wine.   Winemaker Magazine had this to say about cryoextraction:
Some would say that mechanical freezing (also called cryoextraction) provides a more reliable and accurate extraction of grape essence. Further, southern grapes are naturally endowed with more sugar and can have their low acidity enhanced with the judicious application of tartaric acid. On the other hand, true icewine producers would argue that cryoextraction does not duplicate the effects of the longer hangtime, exposure to the elements and loss of juices that naturally frozen grapes experience.
Where is the romance in that?  I liked it better the other is just so wonderfully natural. I was glad to find that there were others that thought true ice wine might be better...and not because of romance.

As you travel north, the greater the likelihood that the grapes which freeze on the vine at a standard 18 degrees fahrenheit and become useful in the making of true ice wine. This happens every year in the Okanagan Valley in Canada.  The ice wine from that region should be less expensive.  If you were to visit the area, you will be allowed to taste to your hearts content. They are assured a freeze early and can bank on their true ice wine.

We were in the Okanagan Valley for a golfing trip a few years ago.  I remember noticing the ice wine bottles and asked if we could taste.  To my delight we were offered a variety of wines to taste.  I thought it was a wine miracle.

We have a bottle of 2004 Ste. Chapelle Ice Wine Riesling Idaho that we received as gift.  We have had it in the wine cache for about 3 years now.  That is the lovely thing about this kind of wine.  You can open a bottle, have an after dinner taste, re-close the bottle to be sipped again at a later time.  It will be good on the shelf for up to 4 years.

Santa is Coming
I know it is less than a week until Christmas but there is still time...I have not done one bit of shopping so I know. We will be back on Oregon tomorrow so we will shop sales tax!!! I will buy wine  at our local wine shop.  I will also be looking at wine club memberships...I think that they would be a perfect Christmas gift.

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