When I first tasted this a few months ago, I immediately thought this the perfect “wine*” for Christmas!  Unusually, instead of being made from grapes, this is an Apple Ice wine* or more properly termed cider made from apples.  Apples similarly to grapes have high acidity and if you can capture enough sugar in the apple juice, you can make an Ice Cider which I think is really interesting.  The challenge is how do you concentrate enough sugars (or ripeness) in the apples in order to be produce sufficient amount of alcohol during fermentation.

* the term wine is reserved for fermented grape juice therefore the correct term is cider when referring to a fermented apple drink

The really exciting thing they do here at Cold Hand Winery in Denmark, is that they have borrowed a process (cryoextracion) which originally is used for making Ice Wines (Eiswein).  The process for making Ice Wine is only possible naturally in certain regions where there is sufficiently low temperatures to freeze the grapes to -8 degrees or more which is the magic temperature required to make an Ice Wine. 

Ice Wines in Europe are becoming rarer.  Climate change has meant that in countries like Germany and Austria which were previously famous for making Eiswein from grape varieties such as Riesling, Welschriesling or Scheurebe, unfortunately these beautiful wines are becoming a thing of the past.  In fact, the German Wine Institute (DWI) announced earlier this year that the 2019 vintage will go down in history as the first ice harvest that has ever failed nationwide. 

In other countries such as Ontario, Canada and the Finger Lakes in the USA, Ice Wines are increasing popular. In addition, in the northeastern province of Jilin in China, the conditions are perfect for producing Ice Wines.

Making Apple Ice Cider
Apple Ice Ciders are made using a slight variant to the naturally occurring cryoextraction method used to make Ice Wines.  Instead, ripe apples are picked and pressed, then the fresh juice (must) is frozen to around 18’C.  The purpose of freezing the juice is that any water in the juice will freeze solid, thus allowing the sugar rich juice to flow freely – which in reality is only between 20 – 25% of the original juice.  In this way cryoextraction concentrates the level of sugar in the juice which then converted to alcohol during the fermentation process.  Not all the sugars are made into alcohol however, because these apples have extremely high acidity, so they need a lot of the unfermented sugar to balance the flavours – in a similar way to the great sweet wines made from Riesling.  Think of it a bit like making lemonade.  If you just have lemon juice and no sugar to balance it, it will be barely drinkable!

Because of the very high concentration of natural sugars in the apple juice, the fermentation process to convert the juice to alcohol is extremely slow.  The yeasts struggle to work in this ultra-sugary environment and the fermentation may take up to 15 – 18 months to complete. This is very different from a standard dry white wine which normally completes the fermentation process in 6 – 9 days.  After the fermentation is finally complete, the finished Ice Cider is matured in oak barriques for 3 months which adds some more complexity and roundness.

Cold Hand Winery Malus Danica 2016, Danmark
VMP: 12215202. Basisutvalget kategori 6
Pris: 273 kr. (37,5 cl)
Alkohol: 9% abv, Syre:22.7g/l, Sukker: 229 g/l
100% epler (20% Elstar, 20% Ingrid Marie, Belle de Boscoop, Jonagold, Rubinstep, Gråsten, Pigeon og Discovery)

Tasting Note:
copper gold colour
Very fresh and complex aromas of Demara sugar, spice, cinnamon, toffee, red apples,
On the palate: I think I have just tasted liquid toffee apples J  Seeringly fresh acidity, very good concentration and purity – red apples, citrus, kumquats and toffee, spice. Full-bodied with a long lingering finish.

Score: 92 points.

Food pairing: Serve very chilled with apple cake or excellent served with apple cake or traditional deserts such as Tilslørte bondepiker.  Excellent choice to enjoy at Christmas

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