Delicious Ice Wine From One of My Favorite Oregon Winemakers

Today’s Story: Antica Terra

Antica Terra was established in 2005 by Scott Adelson, John Mavredakis, and Michael Kramer, three friends and partners who had collaborated before and dreamed of owning a vineyard together. This being said, vines were first planted in 1989 on the property, an 11 acre vineyard on pre-historic seabed in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Having taken ownership of their new vineyard, Scott, John, and Michael started seeking a winemaker and their crosshairs quickly fell upon Maggie Harrison.

Maggie began her winemaking career at Sine Qua Non (known for $200-$1,000+ bottles of cult Rhone variety wines) working for Manfred Krankl and her expertise was quickly realized. In 2004, Manfred encouraged her to begin her own Syrah project on the side, and Lillian was born (I reviewed two of these Syrahs previously). Maggie worked tirelessly on her passion project wines while still tending to barrels at Sine Qua Non, demonstrating her pure passion for the craft. When Scott, John, and Michael asked Maggie to become their winemaker, she refused profusely though the three friends ultimately convinced her to simply visit the property to offer her opinions of the vineyard. 26 seconds after Maggie stepped foot into the vineyards and observed the fossils, oaks, and vines, “she found herself hunched beneath one of the trees, phone in hand, explaining to her husband that they would be moving to Oregon.”

The vineyard of Antica Terra is rather intense, both in appearance above the earth and underground for the vines. The vines find home amongst fossilized oyster shells and sandstone with no topsoil, leaving them to struggle for nutrients and in turn producing incredibly unique fruit. Aboveground, the vineyard is strewn with boulders, steep grades, and vines that (due to the soil) appear spindly and frail. Fruit for Antica Terra wines forms in tiny clusters with thick-skinned grapes that are half the size that is typical for their varieties and the canopy of these plants is incredibly sensitive. Maggie provides immense care and attention to these delicate vines, which culminates into unique and immeasurably profound wines. Antica Terra produces four Pinot Noir bottlings, two Chardonnays, and one Rosé. In the 2018 vintage, they also produced their first-ever and incredibly limited ice wine that I’m reviewing today.

To explore the wines of Antica Terra, join the mailing list, or plan a visit, check out their website here. I also previously reviewed the 2017 Botanica Pinot Noir and 2018 Aurata Chardonnay.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Paraselene Ice Wine

100% Chardonnay; 10.4% ABV; 24.4% residual sugar by weight

The 2018 Paraselene is deep gold, almost amber, in color. Aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing welcoming notes of peach cobbler, orange marmalade, apricot jam, baked apple, honeysuckle, and hazelnut. The flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, while the palate offers equally inviting notes of pineapple, apricot, orange pith, lychee, squash blossom, and honey. This sweet ice wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. While not incredibly complex at this stage, the wine is incredibly concentrated and rather intense. A delicious way to cap off the evening or as a pairing for dessert.

Price: $100 per 375ml. While this is incredibly expensive on a value perspective, ice wine is a very labor-intensive and expensive product to make and these bottles are incredibly limited. While you can argue there are better ways to spend $100, I thoroughly enjoyed this wine and am glad to have a couple bottles left. If you’re given the opportunity to try it, this is another window into Maggie’s highly skilled winemaking.