As with all moves, part of getting ready to go is taking care of what you've been putting off. I'm afraid this review falls under that category.
I tried Bonny Doon Vineyard's 2011 Querry? on a recommendation from a
wine store with a significant cider selection. The beverage is a
fermented blend of apple, pear, and quince juices. Hence the question
mark. When I tried it, I had two dedicated beer drinkers and my husband
with me. We all had different opinions and enjoyed ourselves
tremendously trying something so unusual. What I forgot to do though was
take any pictures. I'm using promotional images from Bonny Doon, so you
will at least get a peek at the super fun label.
https://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com. Their leader, Randall Grahm, seems like a likeable interesting fellow. His blog can be found here: http://www.beendoonsolong.com.
The 2011 Querry? has an ABV of 6.9%. The summary Bonny Doon provides is full of both charm and useful information, so I'll quote it extensively. "¿Querry? A Getrunkenexperiment. Query: What might a blend of apple, pear, and quince taste like
naturally fermented (with indigenous yeast)? Result (not
surprisingly): The ethereal suggestion of pineapple quince; the
pungent, heady, dusky perfume of pear; and the earthy succulence of
apple. I never thought I'd see... a pome as lovely as Querry. Crisp
in acidity and bone dry, Querry is the perfect accompaniment to,
well, essentially everything. It is composed of virtually
everything, but most significantly: 58% pear, 33% apple, and 9%
quince. Excellent with charcuterie, Asian food, seafood, and poultry—fare
as humble as meat pie or as elegant as lobster. Querry pears with
everything. Open very carefully, as contents are under some
pressure." From what I understand this last warning is significant, the first batch of querry had bottle fermentation that was just a bit too vigorous and exploded many bottles. Not an uncommon problem, as I'm learning in various cider communities.
Then they give a whole new batch of information formatted in way I'm less used to seeing. Is this wine people talk? I don't honestly know. But the information is good, so again I'll just pass it along and let readers take it as they will.
Alcohol by Volume: 6.9%
Ingredients: 58% pear, 33% apple, 9% quince
Appellation: 91% California, 9% Oregon
TA: 6.1 g/L
Serving Temp: 58º F
Cellaring: 0-2 years from release (Nov. 2012)
Production: 285 cases
Label Art: Chuck House
Color and Appearance: brilliant, mild white gold
This cider pours with a gentle frothy head around the edges. The color is very subtle and the clarity is as brilliant as can be.
Aromas: pineapple (quince?), pear, all ripe, candy
Querry smells fruity and sweet. My beer expert detected a bit of a phenolic or chemical note under the blend of fruits, and once my attention was drawn in that direction I could sense a hint of that. Mostly though we all picked up on the plethora of different fruits in play. It smells totally distinct from either a traditional perry or cider.
Though the label says "bone dry" everyone in our group would call it semi-dry. It certainly has the pleasant maturity that comes with good levels of dryness, but it also has some sweetness and plenty of fruitiness.
Flavors: grapefruit, other citrus, pineapple
This querry definitely takes after the Spanish cider that inspire it with its high acid level and low tannins. Citrus flavors dominated my early sips, then the fruity metallic pineapple notes joined in. My husband noted how much of the flavors are notable on the gums and the sides of the tongue. Truly unusual and rather exciting.
Drinking experience: effervescent, clean, shifts into mild breadiness
Querry tastes extremely carbonated—outright foamy in larger sips. It disappears in an ultra-clean finish. I experienced almost no aftertaste. It's mouthfeel is very light, but after many sips, this cider accumulates a soft, bready aftertaste of mild yeast and sugar. This is actually more like what I associate with cider than the super quick clean finish. More fruits come out and play when you take a larger sip and hold it in your mouth for a little while.
This is a great conversation cider. I highly recommend tasting it in a group and perhaps grouped with a few other ciders of varying styles. Highlight what is unusual and special about the Querry? rather than asking it to be something it is not. That's the best way to approach and enjoy it.
I also think it gives American cider drinkers a truly interesting variant because this does not aim for the English or French styles that we see more often. It doesn't taste like a traditional Spanish Sidra, but it belongs more to that tradition of cider making than to most of what I've tasted. I have a feeling that as more and more cideries add to their lineups that we'll see more and more ciders that take their inspiration from more styles. This is an early moment of adventure and exploration.