The grapes here are left untouched under a protective netting until December or January, when temperatures reach -10 degrees Celsius (for those of us who haven't mastered metric conversion, that's a chilly 14 degrees Fahrenheit). The vineyard workers pick all the grapes by hand, sometimes standing in several feet of snow. When the grapes are crushed, they yield only 5 to 10 percent of the normal juice, which accounts for the scarcity and cost of icewine.

This one is bright and lively with tangy apricot and lush honey.

Inniskillin has also just made (not by mistake, but intentionally) a new sparkling icewine.

MAGNOTTA 1998 VIDAL ICEWINE ($28)


Magnotta is the third largest winery in Ontario. Gabe and Rossana Magnotta started as suppliers of fresh grape juice and equipment to home winemakers, but later decided to go into the full-scale production of wine. Their line encompasses several different icewines. This one is made from Vidal, a French hybrid grape. One of Vidal's parents is Ugni Blanc, the widely planted French grape used in the making of cognac.

The winter-hardy Vidal is a favorite in Canada, where more tender varieties are always in danger of succumbing to the sudden frosts. Vidal's thick skin protects the clusters from late-season damage and makes this varietal particularly suited to the production of icewine.

The Magnotta 1998 Vidal Icewine has exotic tropical fruit flavors and lots of spicy tones with aromas of peaches, pineapples, passion fruit, and apricots. By the way, the Magnotta lineup also includes a Gewürztraminer icewine and a rare red version made from Cabernet Franc.

JACKSON-TRIGGS 1998 RIESLING GRAND RESERVE ICEWINE ($45)


Meanwhile, on the other side of Canada, in British Columbia, there's another promising wine region sporting more than 50 wineries. Orchard land is being turned over to grapes at a quick rate, and vineyard plantings have doubled in British Columbia over the past three years. The vineyards here lie at nearly the same latitude as those in the Rhine Valley of Germany.