100% estate-grown Scheurebe from our Spring Valley Ranch Vineyard in St. Helena.
In 1994, the desire to produce an “ice wine,” or Eiswein, as it is called in Germany, prompted Joseph Phelps Vineyards to adopt a unique program whereby Scheurebe grapes would be picked late in the season and then frozen, thus concentrating their high sugar levels. The resulting wine was called “Eisrébe,” a play on the German words Eis(ice) and Rebe(vine).
Although German Eiswiens are produced from fruit that is actually picked frozen on the vine, we found that by freezing the grapes ourselves we could fashion a delicious dessert wine that is viscous and smooth, with excellent acidity to balance the sweetness.
Grapes were picked at an average of 25˚ Brix and frozen to minus 5˚ F. The grapes were then partially thawed, allowing the concentrated juice high in sugar levels to be released, while leaving ice crystals behind with the skins when pressed. Over several hours of slow, gentle pressing, the juice achieved a sugar content of 37.6º Brix and was fermented in a stainless steel tank to 24.5% residual sugar and 8% alcohol before bottling in February, 2013.
2012 Eisrébe is layered with aromas of lemon verbena, yuzu zest, honeysuckle, tropical fruit and vanilla wafer. The luscious, concentrated flavors of floral infused citrus, apricot and honey lend to great freshness and a perfect balance of acid and residual sugar on the palate.
The 2012 growing season was excellent. It was a warmer year than the prior three and the degree-days for the Spring Valley Ranch were similar to 2008 weather patterns. In the Scheurebe block, bud break took place in early April, which is fairly typical. Bloom and veraison were both earlier than in 2010 and 2011. Fruit had a longer hang time in 2012 for extended flavor development.