Pillitteri Estates Red Leaf Cabernet Late Harvest VQA, 2013

Style: Sweet             Vintage: 2013              ABV: 11.5%

Varietal: 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon       
Residual Sugar:
113.4 g/L    Bottle Size: 375 mL

Appellation Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA         Region: Ontario     County: Canada

Harvested in the cold of winter, this wine has flavors of ripe, red strawberries and cherries. The acidity on the palate balances the residual sugars to create a crisp, sweet wine. A harmonious blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine was fermented to 123g/L of residual sugar, making it a delicious dessert wine to be enjoyed with chocolate, cheeses, as an aperitif or on its own.

What is the difference between Icewine and Late Harvest Wine?

The main difference can be defined as when the grapes are picked.  Late harvest wines are picked later than the general harvest and as they had a longer hang time, they also have higher sugar levels--than regular picked wine--which will produce a sweeter wine. Icewine grapes are picked in a frozen state which further concentrates the sugars producing a rich, sweet luscious treat.

Another difference is the minimum legal amount of residual sugar in the wine. Under VQA regulations, Icewine will have a much higher level than a late harvest wine and thus be correspondingly richer and sweeter.

One thing to remember: Late Harvest can be dry or sweet!


VQA Requirements for Icewine

  • Production must be monitored by a VQA-appointed agent who will stop the harvest once the temperature rises above -8°C.
  • It must be produced as a varietal from approved grapes.
  • The grapes must be naturally frozen on the vine and harvested and pressed in a continuous process while the air temperature remains at or below -8°C.
  • 100 per cent of the grapes must be grown within a viticultural area, which must be indicated on the label.
  • The average sugar level of the juice used must reach at least 35° Brix (Brix is the measurement of sugar in grapes) and both the alcohol and residual sugar in the finished wine must result exclusively from the natural sugar of the grapes.

(VQA requirements courtesy of Wine Country Ontario)