Royalty at a Price (April 8, 2004)
Royal DeMaria, the 25-acre winery in Vineland, Ontario, that bills itself
as "Canada's Icewine Specialists," has produced the world's
first Meritage Icewine. (Meritage is the California-coined term for a
New World wine made from Bordeaux's red varieties Cabernet
Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.)
Uniqueness, it seems, comes at a price, because this wine, marketed in
375 mL bottles, costs $395. The average price for Ontario Icewines
in this half-bottle format is about $50.
While most Ontario wineries are content to make Icewine from Riesling
and Vidal, and sometimes Gewürztraminer or Cabernet Franc, Joseph
DeMaria makes this wine of winter from twelve different varieties, including
Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Gamay and as well as the more conventional
Riesling and Vidal.
DeMaria began making Icewine in 1998 and has won 89 medals in competitions
around the world for his products, including five golds at the Concours
Mondial in Brussels in January this year and a double gold at the Finger
Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester New York, in March.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Royal DeMaria has won Double
Gold in this competition.
When Joseph DeMaria, a 41-year-old hairdresser and self-taught winemaker,
gave his winery the title "Royal," it attracted the attention
of Buckingham Palace. In October 2002, the winery received notice that
Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth had requested his product. DeMaria
promptly assembled a gift package that included his much-medalled Riesling
Icewine 1999, which had won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at Vinexpo in 2001.