The production of special wines bears witness for the constant evolution of Luxembourg's wine region Since 1991, the name Crémant de Luxembourg has been referring to quality Luxembourgish sparkling wines that meet the strict conditions laid down by law. In 2001, specialty wines such as late harvest wine, straw wine and ice wine were added. They are unique vintage wines from good years and the quantities are very limited. Let's find out about the characteristics of Luxembourg's viticulture. Come join us!
Late vintage wines: ice wine, straw wine and late harvest wine
Late harvest wines are exceptional vintage wines: the grapes are produced meticulously and harvested long after the usual harvest when the summer draws to an end, and they are treated according to strict criteria that ensure the quality guaranteed by the Appellation d’origine protégée – Moselle luxembourgeoise.
Ice wine is made from grapes naturally frozen with an outside temperature of at least -7 °C. When this occurs, some of the water that is inside the grapes crystalises. The frozen grapes are pressed in order obtain a high-sugar-content must. The resulting wine is highly concentrated, aromatic and syrupy, usually produced with Pinot blanc, Pinot gris and Riesling grapes.
Climate change has a direct impact on this Luxembourgish tradition, which could sadly be at risk of disappearing. In fact, days of intense frost in November or December are increasingly rare and low temperatures no longer persist. What's more, the increasingly hot summers have an impact on the early maturity of the grapes, which need more frost to freeze due to a higher sugar content.
So don't miss the opportunity to taste this exceptional wine - Äiswäin as they call it in Luxembourgish -, as soon as it comes your way!
Fiederwäissen, a festive tradition
Fiederwäissen is undoubtedly a special wine, but it is above all a Luxembourg tradition. As opposed to late vintage wines, this is a white wine from the current harvest which is undergoing fermentation. It is more in line with festive 'apéritif', and it is nice to have it cold.
Do you fancy discovering this Luxembourgish tradition? So give the Am Herscht walking trail a go, feel the harvesting atmosphere and taste some Fiederwäissen with some onion tart. Please note that this wine is only available during that period.
For straw wine, winegrowers have a very particular way of storing the grapes, from which the name derives. In fact, the harvested grapes are placed on straw mats and air-dried for at least two months in a ventilated room to prevent them from rotting. The water evaporates during this process and the sugar concentration skyrockets. The grapes are then pressed, and the result is a heavy, aromatic and sweet wine that can be kept for a very long time. The most commonly used grape varieties for this specialty are Auxerrois and Gewürztraminer, although some straw wines are produced with Pinot blanc, Pinot gris or Riesling.
The harvest for the production of straw wines is often done at the weekend, as a family, and in a very careful way, to keep only the best. A straw wine tasting brings you not only that sweet and special bouquet, but also the family tradition and love for vines.
Late harvest wines are produced with ripe grapes, and often with some noble rot - the beneficial part of a grey fungus, Botrytis cinerea. The fungus destroys the grapes' skin and evaporates part of the water contained. The result is a natural concentration of ingredients and wines rich in sugar and alcohol, with powerful and sweet aromas such as honey or caramel. Several grape varieties are used in the production: Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Auxerrois, Gewürztraminer and Riesling.
These rich wines are traditionally served with foie gras, especially straw wine, but you can also enjoy them with blue cheese or simply at the end of a meal or to end a special day on a sweet note.
Many Luxembourgish sparkling wines exist, but not all of them can be referred to as crémant. In fact, it is a top-quality sparkling wine which can be white or rosé, with an associated appellation which can only be used if certain legal requirements are met. For instance, the grapes must be picked by hand, and pressed whole, while the cuvée must stay on the lees in the same winery for nine months...
Luxembourgish crémant is a speciality produced since 1991. It is the result of the innovative spirit of Luxembourg winemakers, who have combined a sense of tradition and creativity to create a product based on local aromatic grapes, with a refreshing crispness, which delights the most discerning of connoisseurs.