BY: NAOMI TOMKY
For winemakers on the Île d’Orléans, the first bone-chillingly cold day of winter is a cause for celebration. When the temperature sinks to minus 8 degrees Celsius on this small island ten miles northeast of Québec City, the Vandal Cliché grapes can officially be harvested, and the annual ice-wine production process begins. Most Île d’Orléans ice wines and ciders are small production, and the bulk of the product stays right where it was made, sold only out of tasting rooms. While the harvest date varies each year (typically falling around early December), many tasting rooms remain open year-round. Your travel advisor can work with Canadian Excursionist, a Virtuoso on-site tour connection, to arrange private winetasting tours from Québec City.
Ice wine and cider are best served chilled and poured into special ice-wine glasses similar to Champagne flutes. Regular white-wine glasses will also suffice. Here are three must-sip bottles:
Vignoble Isle de Bacchus Jardin de Givre
Jardin de givre, meaning “frost garden,” is a good name for this ice wine, whose amber color and dried-apricot notes evoke a very different season from winter. Try it with a mature blue cheese to cut through the long finish. $26, isledebacchus.com.
Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau Nectar de Glace
Just a hint of apple tartness pulls through in this juicy cider, helping balance out the late-season sweetness. Pair it with rich desserts, especially chocolate. $17, en.cidreriebilodeau.com.
Vignoble du Mitan le Verglas
An intense ice wine with strong aromas of caramelized apples and just a hint of lemon for balance. It’s quite sweet, with a creaminess that matches a foie gras appetizer. $32, vignobledumitan.com.
Photography: Chris Plavidal/Styling by Heidi Adams