Carl Schmitter of Chateau Buffalo and Dancing Buffalo Cidre recently released an incredibly unique and tasty concoction that you won't find anywhere else: Glace de Ballet Apple Icewine. This delectable dessert wine is a sweet and refreshing change of pace.
Carl starts by pressing Golden Russet, Golden Delicious and wild apples and collecting the juice. Then he sets the juice outside in the Buffalo winter cold (see, Buffalo winters are good for something!) until much of the water in the juice freezes. The vast majority of the sugar in the apple juice falls to the bottom, while the ice forms at the top. Carl then pours off the heavier, sweeter and more flavorful juice that remains and repeats the freezing process at least once, sometimes twice.
Carl then ferments the concentrated juice that results from this process of 'cryoconcentration.' Because there is less sugar in apple juice than there is in grape juice, the fermentation process goes more slowly than for ordinary wines. Carl doesn't add any extra sugar to speed up the process. He uses only the natural sugars found in the apples. It takes about two months for the fermentation process to transform enough of the apple sugar into alcohol.
Because Carl wants enough sugar to remain in the wine so that it can be a dessert wine, Carl stops the fermentation at a certain point simply by taking wine back outside for a "cold shock." Carl lets the cold Buffalo weather kill the yeast responsible for fermentation but does not allow it to freeze again.
Once back inside, Carl takes the wine through a series of three 'rackings.' In this process Carl allows the solids in the icewine (including the dead yeast) to settle to the bottom of the large jugs it is stored in and pours off the clearer liquid above the solids. Gravity thus acts as a filter or clarifier. The racking process takes several months.
The result is a wonderful and unique icewine that not only tastes great but makes for some interesting after-dinner conversation as well. Carl also suggests serving it as an apéritif or with lightly sautéed foie gras, a fine piece of chèvre or warmed apple tart. I can't recommend this one-of-a-kind apple icewine highly enough.