A maverick Margaret River winemaker who could soon be dubbed ice man is causing a stir with a side project this vintage.
Fraser Gallop Estate’s Clive Otto is trying to create the region’s first ice wine, a style more commonly made in the cooler regions of central Europe and Canada from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine.
Mr Otto is making a similar style of dessert wine by freezing late picked chardonnay grapes overnight in a commercial freezer at -16C.
Inspired by similar ventures on Australia’s east coast, Mr Otto went about finding a way to emulate some of Europe’s most extravagant iced drops.
“I had heard of some Tasmanian producers like Frogmore Creek were doing an iced riesling by cryoextraction methods, so I thought that chardonnay would be the variety to use because we have chardonnay and semillon growing on the estate,” he said.
“Currently a few wine producers are making cane cut semillon and riesling, but ice pressed chardonnay would be a nice point of difference and Margaret River chardonnay is already internationally well recognised.”
Chardonnay fruit had been frozen overnight and loaded into the press at the early hours of the morning to maintain its temperature.
“We were excited when we put the hydrometer into the juice that was coming out with (desirable) sugar readings,” Mr Otto said.
“The juice was settled overnight before draining to some new French oak barrels, some older barrels and some steel barrels so we can get a better idea which vessel will suit this style or maybe the blend of all three will be best.”
Mr Otto said Fraser Gallop Estate hoped to release the ice wine early next year.