Ice cider is a niche dessert wine coming into its own. Also known as apple ice wine or ice apple wine, ice cider is sweeter and more alcoholic than hard cider. The pressed apple juice for ice cider is left in the natural cold for several months to force watery ice crystals to form. The remaining thick apple syrup is then slowly fermented. Golden to amber-hued ice cider shows rich apple notes and pleasant sweet-to-tart flavor profiles. With small production from a few countries, purchase online or look for limited release on wine lists or retail outlets.
Neige Premier cidre de glace
La Face Cachée de la Pomme
The darling of Montréal restaurateurs, Neige was the first commercially produced ice cider. Launching Neige after a career as a film producer (think documentaries with fellow Québcoise Céline Dion), owner François Pouliot helped perfect the method to concentrate apple juice naturally in the cold. Amber colored, Neige Premier is a rich ice cider that is very well balanced between sweet and tart. The full-bodied wine has the structure and versatility to serve as an apéritif with spicy or salty appetizers, as a complement to foie gras or game, as a dessert wine, or as a nightcap.
Sheldrake Point on Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes had been producing dessert wines only from Riesling and other grapes until they decided to buy crushed cider apples from Cornell University Orchards to make ice cider. With a pleasing fruit nose, the sweet-tart apple flavors follow through from the first sip to the long finish. Medium bodied, this food-friendly wine with high acid is hearty enough to pair with chicken, cheese, or enjoy on its own after dinner.
Based in apple-centric Normandy, France, Domain Dupont also produces hard ciders and Calvados Cream apple brandy. The apple varieties in Givre, including Saint Martin, Petit Jaune, Saint Aubin, and Tardives de la Sarthe, impart a unique, deep apple aroma and bittersweet flavor profile. The base for Givre is Domain Dupont sparkling hard cider which is then frozen and concentrated like North American ice ciders. Unlike U.S. TTB wine regulations, French law allows addition of sugar to the fermenting juice to boost sweetness. Givre does not exhibit the full-bodied, rich texture as does some ice ciders, but is focused more on an alluring apple profile and crisp, long finish.
Located on Pinnacle Mountain in Southern Québec with views of the Vermont Green Mountains and New York Adirondacks, Domain Pinnacle is the largest Canadian ice cider producer. Similar to old vines yielding intense grapes, the older trees in the estate orchards produce intensely flavored apples. Aromas of baking spice and apple pie predominate. Dark amber in color and more sweet than tart, this ice cider is reminiscent of full-bodied Sauternes. Pair with paté or fois gras, and nut-based or fruit desserts.
Where: Domaine Pinnacle
Buy It: $24.99 per 375ml
Visit: 150, Richford Road, Frelighsburg, Québec, Canada
Contact: Stefan Lemieux
Smitten with ice cider after touring La Route des Cidres (the cider route) in Québec province, the owners of Eve’s Cidery added ice cider to their hard cider repertoire. The family grows 50 apple varieties under eco-friendly principles on the estate orchard. From the diverse mix of varieties, Essence yields a pronounced apple aroma. The sweet-tart taste profile, strong tannic backbone and long finish lead to food pairings with spicy Thai or Mexican food.
Owner Eleanor Leger is obsessed with heirloom apples. In addition to her estate cider apples, she contracts with a Southern Vermont grower that nurtures heirloom varieties dating from the 17th century—when apples were bred for taste rather than cosmetic appearance and storage capabilities. Leger was one of the first to make ice cider in the U.S. and literally wrote the book for Vermont’s agriculture agency on how to produce it. With a distinct apple nose, Eden Ice Cider is on the tart side of the ice cider spectrum. Eden pairs well with sharper cheeses.