Late Harvest Wines and Why They’re Awesome

 
 Our Late Harvest Vidal grapes were hand-picked in the dark and frosty hours this morning at a temperature of -7°C.

Our Late Harvest Vidal grapes were hand-picked in the dark and frosty hours this morning at a temperature of -7°C.

 

Late Harvest Wines and Why They’re Awesome

Article by Wine Folly

LATE HARVEST WINES are made from grapes that are left on the vine even after they’ve reached their peak ripeness. When grapes are (quite literally) left hanging, they become sweeter over time as each individual grape dehydrates and the sugar content becomes more concentrated. Late harvest grapes (typically picked 1-2 months after the regular harvest time) are used to make a wine that contains both higher residual sugar and higher potential alcohol than standard table wines. Technically, any wine grape can be harvested late (Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Gris, etc.), but you’ll tend to see certain grapes chosen over others due to their ability to process exceptionally high-quality late harvest wines.

Vidal Blanc

Vidal Blanc (or simply Vidal) is a special grape variety that is a hybrid species of European grapes crossed with American ones (everyone loves a mutt). The result of this crossing is a very cold-hardy white grape that makes stupendous late harvest wines. Because of the vine’s weather tolerance, the grapes are often left on the vine to suffer through winter’s first freeze and are later used to produce outstanding ice wines. You’ll find Vidal Blanc widespread across the United States (from upstate New York to Minnesota) and it is also a very important variety in Canada.

Tasting Notes: Intense aromas of dried pear, vanilla, beeswax, and orange marmalade. Wines taste rich and concentrated, exhibiting crisp flavors of orange peel on the finish.

Pairing Recommendation: Try late harvest Vidal Blanc with apricot macaroons or a nutty cheese, such as Comté.

In Canada, the winters are cold enough to freeze grapes consistently to produce the even more precious ice wine. The world’s largest producer of ice wines, called Inniskillin, is located in Ontario.

In New York and several states in the Northeast, you’ll find excellent examples of late harvest Vidal Blanc coming from small producers.

Serving Late Harvest Wines

Most late harvest wines are served cold, around 45–55ºF (7–13ºC), and poured in 2.5–3 oz. (75–90 ml) portions and served in small dessert wine glasses. If you do not have dessert wine glasses, simply use white wine glasses instead.

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