Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cider Review: Putney Mountain Winery of Vermont Apple Maple Wine

So, I've had an internal conflict for some time about whether or not to review products labelled apple wines on my blog. There is no consensus about what difference may exist between hard cider and apple wine. There are some tendencies, like ciders are more often sparkling and apple wines more often still or that the ABV level is commonly higher than what we tend to see in ciders. Again though, these are tendencies only; it is easy to find exceptions. That's why I decided that if I feel like reviewing an apple wine, I'll do it. Here's my first such review.

Charles (yes, *the* Charles Dodge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dodge_%28composer%29)  and Kate Dodge, along with their production manager and associate winemaker Jason Hubner, have been creating fruit wines in Vermont for some time now. The Dodges began in the 1990s when Dodge felt inspired by his music students' stories of their own home-brewing. You can read all about Putney Mountain Winery on their website here: www.putneywine.com. Or you can see them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/PutneyMountainWinery.

In reading their story, I found this part to be the most interesting and the most communicative of what Putney Mountain Winery is all about.
 [N]ear the end of the drive home to Putney one evening, as he passed Green Mountain Orchards, Charles had an epiphany. He realized that many of the best experiences he and Kate have, in drinking wine throughout the world, come from drinking local wine, made from local fruit, enjoyed near the local winery.

Then and there, he decided to stick with Vermont tradition and craft delicious fruit wines from the delectable local produce.
Now that we've all been properly introduced, let's talk about tonight's beverage. I'm trying Putney Mountain's Apple Maple Wine with several visiting friends who have a whole spectrum of beverage experience and preferences. This bottle is being shared between two cider aficionados, one wine fiend, one beer guy, and a most-of-the-time non-drinker. I expect some variety of opinions around the table tonight. 

Here's the official description of the Apple Maple Wine.
Apples. Maple syrup. The twin tastes of Vermont. This light, semi-dry wine combines two of Vermont’s signature flavors. At first taste the apple dominates, rendered fruity but not too sweet by the syrup. Then a subtle maple aura emerges to create its very long finish. A favorite of many customers, our Apple Maple wine is also a consistent award winner. It makes the basis for a spectacular mulled cider wine (find the recipe on our Facebook page). We serve it chilled in the Summer and mulled in the Winter.
This is sold in 750ml bottles and has a 10% ABV.


Appearance: Brilliant, dark maple color

When poured, this looks completely still. It features a deep dark maple color and total brilliance. There is not one hint of haze.

Aromas: maple syrup, mulled cider, wood, cooked apples

I noticed tons of smells in this cider as soon I as I lifted my glass. Between everyone in the party, we smelled: mulled cider, green wood, vinous-ness, home cooked applesauce, and everyone noted the maple syrup.

Sweetness or Dryness: Sweet!

Though this is described as semi-dry, we all agreed that this tastes distinctly sweet. To me, with my biased palate, this tastes very much like a dessert cider or wine.

Flavors and drinking experience: boozy, sweet, spicy, loooong finish

Again, the sweetness dominates the experience for me. I'm not quite sure that a 750ml is the most logical size for this beverage, based on its intensity of flavor. This wine is almost completely still, but just onf the verge of being pettilant. It tastes warmly boozy, even when chilled. Goes down a little spicy in a slow, non-alarming way. The wine offers up a strong long finish with plenty of maple. It gives a heavy mouth coat, nearly syrupy. Some tasters detected hints of salty toffee. We all agree that it tastes rich and toasted like a port or a tokaji dessert wine. This would tastes best with candied nuts. You could also use it as a glaze.

Though not for review, I did try their Vermont Cassis a few weeks ago as part of a movie night featuring the Original 1970s Wicker Man.  It also shared the intensity, warmth, and richness of the Apple Maple Wine.

Overall, I was impressed with both products within the realm of sweet fruit wines. Neither lines up precisely enough with my preferences to make a regular appearance, but I think they do what they do very well.

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