We’re Beer Geeks first and foremost, but fermentation of all types fascinates us. We’ve worked hard to educate ourselves on wine, but fruit wine (alcoholic beverages made from a variety of fruit other than grapes) is a totally new world for us. Luckily, a recent visit from the folks at Denmark’s Cold Hand Winery allowed us to learn a bit more about their story and the process behind making world-class fruit wine!
A Focus on Nordic Ingredients
Cold Hand Winery, led by winemaker Jens Skovgaard, focuses exclusively on Nordic fruits, avoiding the fruits that they believe make better wine elsewhere. While Denmark may not necessarily jump to the front of your mind when you think of fruit production, Cold Hand has created incredible fermented beverages from rhubarb, plums, strawberries, apples, pears, gooseberries, and much more! The mild, temperate Summer months allow for the development of a clean and pleasant acid profile, which allows for balance in their sweet wines.
In addition to sourcing local fruit, Cold Hand also grows their own apples for their line of apple wines. Skovgaard has more than 100 different varieties of apple trees growing on a small plot in an orchard on Funen, Denmark’s third largest island. A blend of apple varieties go into making their line of apple wines, but Cold Hand says that the Ingrid Marie and Filippa varieties are the real highlights. Greenish-yellow with red highlights on the sun-facing side, Ingrid Marie is a beautiful aroma apple that also contributes a sweet acidity, while Filippa is providing a huge juicy character with a restrained acid character.
What’s in a Name?
Cryocentration is the process of freezing fresh-pressed juice directly after a harvest and then letting the resulting ice blocks slowly thaw. The potent, sugar-laden juice flows out of the block first, leaving the ice crystals behind. The highly concentrated juice is then very slowly cold-fermented over a period of 12 – 18 months. Cold Hand typically will then take the final fermented product and allow it to mature in oak barrels for any number of months until it achieves further complexity and a rich vanilla flavor from the wood that compliments the bright fruit.
The incredibly labor-intensive process in conjunction with the extended periods of aging result in a final product that is quite expensive, but worthy of its price tag. Cold Hand wines in particular can range from $40 – $60 per bottle on our stores’ shelves, making them a great option for a gift or to stash away and opened at a later date for a special occasion.
Cold Hand is in Good Hands
We became aware of Cold Hand’s portfolio thanks to our good friends at Shelton Brothers. Dan, Joel, and Will Shelton have built a reputation of seeking out some of the world’s finest beer and wine producers and importing them into the US. They are the folks that bring you the likes of Cantillon, Dieu Du Ciel!, Drie Fonteinen, and Mikkeller, but they’ve also impressed us with the wines that they choose to import. Frederiksdal, a Cherry Wine producer also from Denmark, is imported through Shelton Brothers and makes some of the finest fruit wines on the market. We knew that if Shelton was going to add another winery specializing in non-grape wines, the quality was going to be present.
Three to Try:
Rheum is a beautiful Sparkling Rhubarb Wine produced using Champagne techniques. Cold Hand referments the wine for six months in the bottle, then hand-turns each bottle and disgorges them before releasing. We pick up notes of crisp raspberry on this complex, yet highly refreshing and very dry offering.
Malus X – Feminam
This dessert apple wine won Best Product with the highest score ever in at Dasnk Vinshow 2014, a highly-regarded Danish wine show. At 19% ABV, Feminam has an intense aroma of honey, caramel, and baked apple. Produced using juice from Elstar apples, this decadent wine was aged for 8 months in white wine barrels.
Prunella is another sparkling offering from Cold Hand that also utilizes the same Champagne techniques as Rheum, yet this wine is produced using bright plums. Ruby red in color with notes of marzipan and flowers soaked in Madeira. A beautiful match for light desserts.
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