Concha y Toro

Ania Smolec 19/05/2017

Ice wines and straw mat dried sweet wines


In the case of the straw mat dried wines, the clusters are cut in the autumn and then left in the sun on straw mats or simply hung from the vines, as is still the case in some dry areas in southern Chile.

This drying process produces a formidable concentration of aromas. Also in the north of Chile, a sweet wine called pajarete is made. This wine has a long history in Chile and is born from aromatic strains of the Muscat family.

This wine style, where the grapes are dried in the sun, has its roots in Italy, like the very Tuscan Vin Santo of Trebbiano and Malvasia strains. These wines are a delicious aperitif, but they also accompany many desserts, from fresh fruit, like pineapple carpaccio, to others with deeper flavors like the popular Pan de Pascua (Christmas bread).

Uvas para Ice wine congeladas en la vid. Península del Niágara, Canadá | CC Dominic Rivard
Ice wine grapes frozen on the vine. Niagara Peninsula Canada | CC Dominic Rivard

The largest specialist of sweet wines of red grape varieties is Italy. For example, Schavia is the name of a variety and a famous wine of Alto Adige. In the New World, you can also find sweet wines from strains such as Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, Malbec and Petit Syrah.

In this category, we should also mention the Ice Wine or Eiswein. The true ice wine is extremely rare and expensive for two reasons: it is produced only in special years, when a vineyard freezes, and secondly because its elaboration is more complex. The grains of grapes are pressed for fermentation when they are still frozen, usually in the middle of the night.

These wines are commonly produced in cold regions of Canada, Germany and Switzerland. Most are made from Riesling or Vidal grapes. Due to its intensity of flavors and creamy texture, you can find them similar to noble rot wines, but they do not reach the levels of complexity that botrytis gives us.