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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.

 

 

 

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