Ask anyone on the street to name a state in the northeastern United States that makes great ice wines, and they will probably say New York. While I’m sure this is certainly an easy bet, then ask them to name another state from the same region. Most people will probably just say a random state that they have no clue about.
The upper northeastern United States gets very cold during the winter months and sometimes humid in the summer. This type of climate can certainly make it difficult to use popular grape varietals so most of them rely on French hybrids for their winemaking.
Vermont, the second least populated state in the US, fits perfectly into this scenario. With its north side bordering Canada above it, its climate isn’t really ideal for most standard wine grape varietals. It wasn’t until 1997 that the first official winery opened and most Vermont winemakers will tell you that it isn’t easy to succeed.
For my Vermont wine tasting, I chose wines from Shelburne Vineyard, who have been making wines since 1998, located close to Lake Champlain in the town of Shelburne. I was curious about their ice wine so I selected their 2017 Duet Ice Wine (a blend of Riesling and Vidal Blanc) for my first wine. I don’t often drink ice wines and am not a huge fan of super sweet wines, so I knew this would be a challenge for me. The wine had an amber hue with notes of stone fruits on the nose and sweet mango on the tongue. While I wouldn’t drink it too often, it is a very complex mix of flavor, sweetness, and aromas.
I opted for their 2017 Marquette Reserve as my second wine. I’m realizing just how much I enjoy this French hybrid and this particular bottle is one of my favorites. It was a bolder Marquette with higher acids and a mild amount of tannins that was bursting with fresh red berries, a hint of vanilla, and a long lasting finish.
This was a hard one for me to decide which I prefer. I naturally gravitate to bold red wines, but I also appreciated the complexity of their ice wine so I’m going to say this one was a tie.
Vermont winemakers have an uphill battle to make wine, and if quality over quantity is their goal, I believe they are succeeding.
You can see a list of states I’ve reviewed on my main 50 Wines From 50 States page.