The story of apple ice wine

Frozen apples at La Face Cachée de la Pomme

What would you do if you had to put up with temperatures in the minus 20s every winter? Would you go out into the countryside and look for ways of harnessing the cold to make syrup and wine? No, me neither. But that's what Quebeckers do and you have got to admire them for it. I've already seen first hand how they harness the freezing nights and warm days to make maple syrup in the Spring. This time I've been picking frozen apples from the tree and finding out about that other great Quebec gift to the world - apple ice wine.

Neige is the name of the apple ice wine here. It comes in different vintages.

It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it so without any thought to freezing body parts, I selflessly volunteered to attend a day of tasting at La Face Cachée de la Pomme in Hemmingford, Quebec. These are the people who make Neige - known as ice cider here and apple ice wine in the rest of the world (the name change is because Americans think cider is apple juice, apparently). Whatever you want to call it - it is a delicious dessert wine and part of Quebec's wintry heritage. I'll let Francois and Stéphanie explain it for my video and click on arrows (bottom right of screen) to watch in glorious full widescreen.

Apple Ice Wine Part One

For part two of the apple ice wine story see below. Apples figure largely in the Monteregie region of Quebec. There is even a cider route.

Frozen on the tree - the Fuji apples.

Apple Ice Wine Part Two
The Apple Ice Wine Race featured in the video is a crazy combination of snowshoe races through the apple orchard at Hemmingford and wine tasting. The teams must uncork a bottle at the end of their race and one of them did it over my video camera. To tell you how cold it was - the stuff froze instantly over the camera and tripod. For me Neige is meant to be drunk in front of an open fire and not licked off your frozen camera. 

Thousands of apples waiting to become ice wine.
If you want to drink it in England get yourself down to that well-known corner store, Harrods. As well as the apple ice wine they make a still and sparkling cider - all enough to make you forget the temperatures outside which made this stuff possible in the first place.
The apple orchard at La Face Cachée de la Pomme.

The winter harvest here takes place in January and you can visit at weekends to learn all about apple ice wine or anytime between May and Christmas to learn about the process. They have two harvests, in Fall and in Winter and the pressed apple juice ferments for 6-8 months out in the cold. There is something about seeing the frozen apples on the tree which is fun though - especially as they let you pick and taste one and see for yourself how they have been cooked by the sun and wind.
Eating an apple, picked frozen from the tree.

You can read more about apple attractions in Quebec's Monteregie region (a short drive from Montreal) at Tourisme Monteregie. (They are the people with La Sucrerie de la Montagne also - the well-known sugar shack with cabins for rent).
Lots more info at La Face Cachée de la Pomme in Hemmingford, Quebec.
For more on their tasting packages click here.
More apple pics here at the Dear England, Love Canada Facebook page.

If you fancy a tipple this is the Neige label....hic

Just incase you were wondering what the frozen apples taste like....

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