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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc Icewine

Canada (Ontario)

cabernet franc

Sailing away from Greenland’s icecap, deep in the Evighedsfjord…

an organic icewine beings to reveal itself…

and in the waters of Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, it rises to the occasion…

seeking someone to sample it.

Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc Icewine 2008

In the ice bowl the dessert wine glows a red-pink. Up from the ice come aromas of apple and wild strawberry, a nifty balance of red berry compote. On the palate the strawberry continues, blended with a stew of other field berries. It is a dapper touch, nothing too sweet, a surfacing acidity to keep everything in check. Overall, a very pleasant experience, well worth the trip to retrieve this 200-ml bottle.  $$

It’s a bit of a homecoming. Apparently fossil remains of a 350-million year old relative of the modern frog was first uncovered in Greenland. Perhaps it led to the varieties of frogs (green, leopard, and pickerel) that have taken up residence at Canada’s Frogpond Farm, near Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario.

The vineyard owners, Jens Gemmrich and Heike Koch are travellers, too. They emigrated to Canada from near Stuttgart in Germany fifteen years ago, with the express purpose of producing wine, founding what would turn out to be Ontario’s first (and as yet only fully-certified) organic winery. Starting with 4 hectares, the farm has expanded to 12. It produces a variety of reds and whites, and two varieties of icewine.

Icewine proves to be a particular challenge to organic growers, given the extended period the treasured few grapes remain on the vines, i.e., to the time of the first frost. As with all Frogpond grapes, these are handpicked. That may well be in the middle of the night, for it is important to collect the grapes at just the right point in time.

Jens Gemmrich came to Canada with a solid background in viticulture. His family had worked vineyards and made wine for generations. He and Heike developed into keen proponents of the organic approach to winemaking, committed to producing the best wines they can, within a healthy, pesticide-free environment for their growing family. “This my backyard,” Heike has said. “Why would I want to spray it with chemicals?”  The couple’s commitment extends beyond the vineyards. As an example, Frogpond Farm is totally powered by green (wind and water generated) electricity.

The couple’s approach has not been particularly quick to catch on in the region. Yet, Frogpond Farm, with its near idyllic surroundings, remains a true focus for wine drinkers and wine tourists who want to take the green route to their wine experience and sample very good wines in the process.

And now I understand why the bottle looked so at home in Greenland.


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