Boyden Valley Red Ice Wine Frontenac Vermont 2011
A working maple farm for more than 100 years, Vermont’s Boyden Valley Farm was reinvented in the 1990s as a winery, officially Vermont’s first. Though they make a wide variety of wines and ciders, special attention is given to ice wine, the cult beverage made from grapes that have frozen on the vine, resulting in a concentrated, uniquely sweet wine.
Though my palate tends to uniformly reject East Coast hybrids (such as the Frontenac grape employed here) when used in in dry wines, sweetness is a surefire way to remove the typically-green hybrid aromas. And, though perhaps a hint sneaks into this wine’s nose, the tart apple, cranberry and strawberry-tinged palate is flat-out delicious, while firm acidity on the finish keeps sweetness in check. It drinks well on its own, but also pairs wonderfully with dark chocolate (and probably other sweets).
Is Red Ice worth $59.99? Well, like all ice wine, satisfaction doesn’t come cheap. Making this unique type of wine is both risky and expensive (as the winemaker must bet on the grapes remaining healthy until the first frost, and frozen grapes yield far less juice), and that cost is passed on to the consumer. But here’s another way to look at it: though I’m typically one-and-done when it comes to glasses of dessert wine, I greedily poured myself a second glass of Red Ice without a hint of hesitation, and my wife fought me over the last drop on night two. This juice is that tasty.
It is, after all, the time of year to splurge, and serving an addictively-tasty red ice wine from Vermont will certainly make for interesting dessert conversation at your holiday dinner.