It is still Silvaner season at the Wine Rambler. Actually, for us it is Silvaner season throughout most of the year, but over the past few months we have been even more busy exploring this often underrated German grape variety. Today's specimen is a little unusual, even for us, as it is a sweet Silvaner, an ice wine in fact. Ice wine is made from grapes frozen on the vine - a process that helps extract water and thus (relatively) increases extract and sugar levels, making for delicious sweet wines.
This ice wine was made by Pfalz producer Gerhard Klein based in the village of Hainfeld. If you are not familiar with the Pfalz, you may be amazed to hear that among the grapes they grow are Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Now I even read that Kleins also plant Grüner Veltliner! Compared to that, Silvaner is a much traditional German planting, and that's what we will focus on today.
The ice wine comes in a somewhat minimalistic half bottle - there is nothing minimalistic about the wine's colour though, a beautiful golden hay. The bouquet is as intense, with lots of deep, ripe fruit and intense honey. It smelled a little like I imagine caramelised grapes with sticky cough syrup would smell, with a fresh sprinkling of the smell of a recently run, clean washing machine. This is a sweet wine, and it is not ashamed to smell the part.
It also tastes the part, although the finish was a little drier than I'd have expected from the exuberant nose. A little caramel, more sugar (fructose) and peach and pear fruit flavours make for a ripe, intense wine with a hint of oxidisation and age. What feels like medium acidity adds the much needed dosage of freshness, all coming together in a lovely dessert wine.
Judging from this ice wine, there is definitely potential for more sweet Silvaner, although the top of the line sweet Riesling wines do not yet have to panic.