Showing posts with label apples. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apples. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bonny Doon Vineyard Querry Cider 2011

The Tasting Panel magazine says Heineken is betting on a revival of cider, with their Strongbow brand.  Bonny Doon Vineyards' Randall Grahm is apparently doing the same, with his Querry cider.

Querry is 58% Bartlett and Seckel pears, 33% apples (Pink Pearl, Macintosh, Pippin and crab apples) and 9% pineapple quince, along with some other unnamed quince.  Throw in some malic acid and sulfur dioxide and the Bonny Doon “tell-all ingredients” label is complete.This 2011 vintage clocks in with a beer-like alcohol content of 6.9% abv and retails for $14.  1,924 cases were made.

Grahm says he queried himself, “What might a blend of pear, apple and quince taste like naturally fermented (with indigenous yeast) ?”  Querry is the culmination of his quest to answer that question.  He thinks it's the “pungent, heady, dusky perfume of pear and earthy apple” that makes this quaff, but I like the quince in it.

Bone dry, the cider is naturally fermented with a second fermentation, as in sparkling wines.  It looks like apple juice with bubbles.  They dissipate quickly, leaving a huge nose of the aforementioned fruit.  For its small percentage, the quince makes a big play.

The palate is marked by a huge level of acidity.  Pears and apples show strongly in a beverage that drinks like a beer mixed with a fruity sparkling wine.  It is completely refreshing, and I wish I'd had some when I was mowing the lawn.  I wish I had a lawn, too, but let’s not quarrel.  Querry is festive, for sure.  If you like your sparklers on the fruity side, this would be a great choice.  Pair it with a cheese plate, serve it over the holidays, but don’t keep your guests in a quandary - display the bottle as a conversation starter.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Maine's wine industry is a tiny one, as is the case with many of the "other 47" American states.  Their 43,000 gallons per year production is ahead of only Montana in volume.  With only a handful of vineyards in the state, Maine's wine producers often rely on cold-weather hybrids or fruit other than grapes.  Grapes are also sourced from New York and California.  You are likely to find Maine wines made from cranberries or blueberries, or cider, made from apples.

Maine, unfortunately, led the nation by passing the first state law prohibiting the sale of alcohol except for "medicinal, mechanical or manufacturing purposes."   They are, to their credit, making up for that error.

Mead is also popular in Maine.  As we have learned in the Wine Country series, mead is wine made from honey, not grapes.  Not always sweet - as one might expect from a product made of honey - meads are produced using only honey, but are also produced using a mixture of honey and fruit.

Maine Mead Works operates out of Portland.  Portland is Maine’s largest city, with over 66,000 residents, but the Greater Portland metro area boasts a population of over 500,000.  One third of the people in Maine live near Portland.

Technology entrepreneur Ben Alexander founded Maine Mead Works in 2007 with the assistance of award-winning South African meadmaker Dr. Garth Cambray.  The meadery makes their meads using Maine wildflower honey and other locally-grown products.  Their meads are sold under the Honeymaker label, and the eight varieties all register a 12.5% abv number.

Honeymaker meads come in a variety of styles - Dry Mead, Blueberry, Semi Sweet, Apple Cyser, Cranberry, Lavender, Strawberry & Dry Hopped Mead.  They also do an Elderberry mead for the winter.  They recommend you enjoy their meads by the glass, as a mixer in a cocktail or as a secret ingredient in cooking.  Maine Mead Works provided me with two samples of their Honeymaker meads.

Honeymaker Apple CyserHoneymaker Apple Cyser is a blend of 84% apples and 16% honey.  It's a light golden color with a trace of efferevescence in the glass.   A very nice nose of apples and honey is no surprise.  A slight hint of caramel apple dipped in honey flutters beneath the fruit.  The caramel hint comes across on the apple-laden palate, too.  The cyser has a nice acidity and is quite refreshing.  They recommend a pairing with turkey or pork - sounds good to me - but it's born to pair with a cheese plate.  I find it really good with smoked cheese and almonds.

Honeymaker Dry MeadHoneymaker Dry Mead is 100% Maine wildflower honey.  It shows a pale greenish-gold hue in the glass and a nose offering an herbal quality right up front, with the notes of honey coming underneath.  It should be noted that the honey aroma is not sweet at all, and neither is the taste.  The mead’s palate is as dry as advertised.  The herbaceous quality found on the nose comes through as a flavor profile, too.  That taste becomes most prominent on the finish, where it lasts a good, long while.  There’s a fruity taste as well - a green apple component that stops just short of tartness - and the honey again plays a supporting role.  Pair it with shrimp, if you like, or a fruit salad chock full of herbs.  Frankly, though, this mead is great all by itself as an aperitif.  The lack of sweetness may take you by surprise, considering it is made from something sweet.  The taste reminds me a bit of white vermouth. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Traditional wine grapes don't grow too well in the very cold climate of Vermont.  The Vermont Grape and Wine Council reports only 14 wineries, some of which import juice from California.  The VGWC notes, though, that great wine is being made from cold-hardy varieties like Frontenac, Riesling, Cayuga and Lacrescent.

The weather that throws a curve to grape growers happens to be pretty good for beekeepers and apple farmers, though.  Mead (made from honey) and cider ( from apples) are a big part of the Vermont wine scene.  Ice wine is also a local favorite, as is ice cider.

Eden Ice Cider Company operates from a former dairy farm in the Northeast Kingdom village of West Charleston, Vermont.  "Northeast Kingdom" refers to a three-county area in the northeastern corner of Vermont.  Vermonters refer to it simply as "The Kingdom."

Eleanor and Albert Léger established Eden in 2007.  Since then, they have planted over 1,000 apple trees and produced three vintages of their ice cider.  The cider is produced from 100% Vermont-grown apples - some are estate fruit, some are purchased from other vermont orchards.

Ice cider is not made exactly like ice wine, but the processes are similar.  Ice wine is made by harvesting frozen grapes and bringing them in for fementation.  For ice cider, the apples are pressed in early winter but the juice is left outdoors to freeze for four to six weeks.  The frozen juice is then brought indoors, melted and fermented.  This brings out the sweetest juice.  The Légers are proud of their natural approach to cider making.  "We don't add coloring, sugar or any other flavoring.  We blend (apple) varieties to achieve complexity of flavor with sufficient natural acidity and structure to balance the residual sugar."

It takes more than eight pounds of apples to make a bottle of cider.  The result, according to Erin Zimmer of Serious Eats Blog, is like "drinking the juice of ten apples in one gulp."

The Légers provided me with several of their Eden Vermont Ice Ciders to sample:

Eden Vermont Ice CiderEden Cidre de Glace du Vermont Calville Blend 2010Eleven different apple varieties go into this blend: Empire, Macintosh, Roxbury Russett, Calville Blanc, Cox's Orange Pippin, Hudson's Gem, Ashmead's Kernel, Esopus Spitzenberg, Black Oxford, Belle de Boskoop and Reinettes.  Whew!  This cider has a 10% abv number and 15% residual sugar.

The color is a beautiful golden hue, deep and rich looking, a little darker than apple juice.  The aromas the ice cider offers are of baked apples, pure and simple.  It's a lovely nose.  The taste is sweet and much more concentrated than apples or even apple juice.  After all, you're drinking ten apples at once.  The acidity level is fantastic - you'd never get this in apple juice. Sometimes I dont get it in wine!  It's a slightly viscous drink with a full mouthfeel and a bit of zippiness on the finish.  It's great on it's own, but is more than ready to pair with cheese or even meats.

Eden Vermont Ice CiderEden Cidre de Glace du Vermont Northern Spy 2009This one is a single-variety ice cider made from 100% Northern Spy apples and aged in French oak for a year.  The color is extremely rich looking, darker than the unoaked cider.  It looks quite like bourbon in the glass and it smells like a holiday apple pie, with that baked apple aroma drenched in cinnamon and nutmeg.  Much oak nuance graces the palate, too.  It's viscous, like the unoaked, but a bit more tart on the finish.  I find it quite complex with maybe a bit more of a "grownup" taste.  They advise you pair it with cheddar or creamy blue cheese.

Eden Orleans Aperitif Cider

Orleans is a dry wine made in collaboration with Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin, owners and - respectively - the head chef and maître liquoriste of Osteria Pane e Salute in Woodstock, Vermont.  It is infused with Vermont-grown herbs.  The alcohol content is a bit higher than the other two I tasted, 15.5%, and there is only 1% residual sugar.  The comparison to Vermouth comes quickly, and Eden has a booklet of suggested mixed drinks utilizing Orleans.  It's also been mentioned as a great mix with Prosecco and lime, or all by itself on the rocks.

I tasted it chilled, straight up.  Orleans is slightly lighter in color than the Northern Spy.  The aroma profile shows herbs on apples - sage, thyme and oregano leap forward.  The apple flavors have the herbs coloring the taste, too - as if Vermouth were made from apples.  The finish is tart and zingy.  And the herbal quality stays around long after the sip.

My introduction to Vermont cider was indeed an enjoyable one.  All three of these ciders would be welcome any time of the year, but the Northern Spy seems particularly suited to the holiday season.  Its aromas and flavors mirror those found in holiday foods, especially desserts.  The Orleans Aperitif Cider could easily be a mainstay on your bar for mixing, although it's great all by itself.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc 2008

On a recent - and rare - weekday off, my wife and I decided to try a place that had been on our radar for a while, Henry's Hat.  It's a sister restaurant to Luna Park.  Considering the gender of the name, maybe it's a brother restaurant.  It's some close family tie, at any rate, but it is more of a sports bar inside than Luna Park.  We had lunch there on a nice, warm spring afternoon.  That had me looking on the "white" side of the wine list.

I don't see Valley of the Moon offered at too many restaurants, and I also don't see too many Pinot Blancs.  The planets seemed to be in alignment, so It was an easy choice.

It was just about a perfect wine for a sunny lunch.  Bright lemon zest and some tropical notes on the nose lead to a taste that incorporates pears and apples.  The minerals are fabulous and the wine is very easy drinking while finishing with a crisp zing.  It's a blend of grapes from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma County, 99% Pinot Blanc with 1% Chardonnay in the mix.

I loved it.  Too bad I couldn't make it last until my Baja tacos arrived.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Napa Rose - In The Lounge

A recent visit to Napa Rose at the Disneyland/California Adventure complex was quite enjoyable, despite the fact that we came without a reservation and had to sit in the lounge area. It turned out to be perfect, as we really weren't all that hungry anyway. In the lounge you can order any of the salads or appetizers from the menu. Perfect, since that's what we wanted. The wines, as expected, were outstanding. I tried a pair.

Domaine Tempier Blanc, Bandol, France 2007 This is a very nice wine! The white wines of Bandol take such a backseat to the reds, they are practically in the trunk. Only about 5% of the grapes in Bandol are white wine grapes. Pale golden in the glass, the nose has tons of minerals along with citrus and grassy aromas. It feels full in the mouth with a great acidity. Some pear and citrus come across on the palate, but it it dominated by the minerality. Enjoy a nice, long finish. It's an interesting blend of 58% Clairette, 19% Ugni Blanc, 19% Bourboulenc, 4% Marsanne. Excellent with seared scallops.

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2007 From an area where they really know how to make a great white wine, this namesake winery in Dry Creek Valley does a great job with Chenin Blanc. Aromas of honeysuckle and tropical fruit capture the nose. The pale wine is crisp and refreshing, with flavors of tart apple and melon. The acidity is great, perfect for food, and the finish is pleasing.

My wife and I enjoy the appetizers-in-the-lounge experience so much, that's where we've been found on our last few visits to Napa Rose. If you are really hungry, though, you should opt for the dining area where you can order entrees.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lincourt Pinot Blanc 2008

The Bottle: A beautiful clear bottle shows off the pale color nicely. On the front we learn that the grapes come from the Santa Rita Hills, Courtney's Vineyard, specifically. On the back we learn how wonderful the growing conditions are in Santa Barbara County for Pinot Blanc. They say it has something to do with the long, dry growing season. The wine shows an abv of 13.6%.

The Nose: I drank the wine quite chilled (it was a hot day) and as a result, many aromas were not within my reach. I thought there was some melon there, and the minerals made a nice play in the bouquet.

The Taste: Very refined, this wine. A clean and crisp feel in the mouth, along with just enough acidity, produces a tendency to gulp. But try to slow down and savor. Good minerals are here, with lots of wet rocks in the first part of the mouthful. Then a wave of pears and apples comes in, very crisp, not baked. Some lightly nutty flavors come in at the end. Very refined, indeed. This is a delicate wine that gives a wonderful drinking experience and a nice finish, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tasting Notes: Cascinetta Vietti Moscato d'Asti 2007

The Bottle: There's a lot of Italian on the label, but even with my limited multi-lingual abilities there's enough English to give me a pretty good idea what's going on. Moscato d'Asti wines come from Italy's Piedmont region, in the northwest near the town of Asti. They are low alcohol wines by law - 5.5% abv. I bought this little gem for $16 in a Glendale wine store my wife and I like to frequent, although far too infrequently. Rosso Wine Shop, 3459 1/2 N. Verdugo Road, has a great selection of Italian wines. Jeff Zimmitti has Spanish, French and Californian in there, too, but we always seem to linger in the Italian aisle. Jeff puts on a nice tasting, too, every weekend. Oh yeah, the wine was Cascinetta Vietti 2007.

The Nose: The aromas were a little hard for me to get, as the wine was cold. It seemed to be rather floral and peachy.

The Taste: The taste certainly didn't hide, though. It was sweet and fizzy - not a full-fledged sparkling wine, but with enough bubbles to make it worthy of a special occasion, or a special person. The feel is quite full in the mouth, and the fizziness seems to give it a bit of an edge. Honeyed apples and pears were in the forefront, and a rather nutty note made itself known in the pleasant finish. It was a lush delight, and a wonderful change-of-pace wine if you go in for such a thing. And why shouldn't you?