Apples. Apple juice. Applesauce. Apple pie. Apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Apple pie heated, with vanilla ice cream. (Get the hint, Wendy?)
It's a very versatile fruit. I came home to a bag of apples on the kitchen counter the other day, and that got me thinking.
In northwestern France, Normandy to be specific, apple cider is distilled into a brandy called Calvados in that region. Starting with a hard cider, the distillation process takes the alcohol content much higher. The brandy is barrel aged and then sold.
You can find a handful of examples of Calvados in the state liquor stores, and they are worth trying if you are a brandy fan, but that's not the main topic for today.
As you know, if it has sugar, it can be fermented. Several New Hampshire vineyards have in fact been doing that for a while now, producing some delicious apple wines.
The process is essentially the same as grape wine. Grapes have sugar, apples have sugar. Grapes can be pressed for their juice, which is then fermented to make all variety of glorious wines. The juice of apples can be treated exactly the same way, pressed, and then fermented. It is often advantageous to use stainless steel rather than barrels with fruit wines to preserve the purity of the fruit.
Here are two very different Granite State apples:
AppleZ Apple Wine; Zorvino Vineyards, Sandown. 12.3% abv. Pale golden color. The nose is clean and crisp, of medium intensity with aromas of apple and some hints in the herbal range, giving it depth. The palate is dry, with medium acidity, balanced alcohol, medium body and medium flavor intensity of green apple, with just the very slightest hint of spice on the finish. Medium length finish. Overall, I'd say the palette tends toward a darker hue, if that makes any sense. What crisp fall day meets a cool fall night, this could fit the bill. Try it and you'll know what I mean.
Allyson's Orchard Dry Apple Wine; LaBelle Winery, Amherst. 11.5% abv. Also pale gold in the glass, just a shade lighter than the Apple Z. The nose is a very light apple, refreshing and inviting. The palate is dry, with medium acidity and well–integrated alcohol. The palate is an interesting one, with apple flavors that lean more toward red than green, and also a slight but pervasive herbal background that also adds depth and character. Refreshing and perfect for autumn.
New Hampshire winemakers continue their genius activities with new creations coming down the pike all the time, and some old favorites returning year after year. At this point, I think we can legitimately call it a tradition.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org.