100% estate-grown Scheurebe from our Spring Valley Home Ranch Vineyard in St. Helena.
Grapes were picked at an average of 23.2˚ Brix and frozen to minus 5˚ F before a long, slow pressing. When grapes are pressed in a frozen state, ice crystals remain with the skins and the juice becomes concentrated, reaching 35˚ Brix after pressing. Fermentation and aging in stainless steel followed. The finished wine was bottled in March 2014 and is 8% alcohol with 24.3% residual sugar.
The 2013 Eisrébe has aromatic layers of honey, apricot, marmalade and tropical fruits. The texture is viscous with flavors of peach, lemon meringue and vanilla crème brûlée that tie in perfectly with the fresh, bright and lingering palate.
The 2013 growing season saw moderate rainfall during the cold winter months followed by a mild spring. As the growing season progressed, nearly perfect dry weather conditions accelerated vine development by approximately two weeks for both bloom and veraison. The Scheurebe grapes went through bloom in mid-May, which was similar to the 2008, 2004 and 2001 vintages. Favorable weather in September led to the Scheurebe grapes being picked on September 24th, the earliest date since 2008. There is a great purity of fruit in the 2013 wines, beautiful aromatics and an overall excellent winegrowing vintage.
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.