Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Very Perry May Pt 1: Aeppeltreow, Cidrerie du Vulcain, and Crispin

Happy May, cider lovers! Welcome to Very Perry May. 

This month I'll be reviewing fermented beverages that all include pear. Because tasting perry is less familiar to me than cider, I'm aiming to include a few different perries each week and cover more range. I welcome all comments! Be a part of Very Perry May and let me know what you know about cider's mysterious cousin.

I have occasionally reviewed a perry or cider with pears along and along, but this is the first in-depth exploration I've done of perry on this blog.

From July 2013, my review of Fox Barrel's Pacific Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/07/and-now-for-something-completely.html

More recently, Angry Orchard's Knotty Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/06/cider-review-angry-orchards-knotty-pear.html

A blend of apples and pears in South Hill Cider's 2014 Packbasket: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/04/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-2014.html

Blackberries and pear juice together in Fox Barrel's Blackberry Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/08/perry-review-fox-barrel-blackberry-pear.html

And my only previous experience with quince is from this quince, pear, apple blend Querry?: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/07/last-review-before-big-move-cider.html

I want to start of my Very Perry May right, so this is Aeppeltreow Winery's Perry. (Full disclosure, this bottle was a gift I received at CiderCon from the cidermaker.)

Website: http://aeppeltreow.com/

Official Description: "This Perry is semi-sweet, creamy, fruity, and intensly floral. It is made using the Méthode Champenoise, with Comice and Bosc pears, and a splash of Bartlett Brandy."

Appearance: daffodil yellow, brilliant, lots of large bubbles

I was surprised by how bright this cider is. The color simply shines up from the glass. Its brilliant and the bubbles are large, numerous, and easy to see.

Aromas: melon, pear, tropical fruit

These aromas aren't as different from cider aromas as I would have expected. I definitely smell melon, pear, and tropical fruit, something also smells boozy and rich. I'm getting some hints of banana and caramel also.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

As the description promises, this perry is semi-sweet. 

Flavors and drinking experience: medium acid, tropical, clean, bubbly.

 I can taste medium levels of acid and some tannic presence. The fermentation is clean and the body is nicely boosted by the sweetness.
Cidrerie du Vulcain La transparente Demi-sec Quince Perry Apple (Swiss)

Official description (from the importer):
Varieties: Transparente de Croncels, Reinette de Champagne, Pomme Raisin, and Rose de Berne.
Terroir: Deep molasse over Valais schist, or moraine gravel mixed with brown clay soil.
Agriculture: Foraged, untreated, high-branched (1.8 to 2m) trees.
Cider-making: Indigenous yeast partial fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Two to three light filtrations ensure that the desired residual sugar levels are attained. Natural prise de mousse in bottle. Low sulfur additions (about 20mg/l) before bottling.
Sweetness: Labelled as demi-sec, tastes near-dry. Approximately 40 g/l.
Perry/quince/cider is the bottom beverage pictured.

When visiting Wassail, I was offered Cidrerie du Vulcain La transparente Demi-sec, which is a blend of Quince Pear and Apple from Switzerland

Appearance: Lovely warm color like apricot mixed with toasted wheat, mousse

This cider had a head when first poured, and it lasted longer than I expected. The color was a lovely shade as if toasted wheat was gently blended with apricot.

Aromas: powdery, sweet, quince and apple

I could sense the quince more in aroma than the pear. The smell is sweet and inviting with something slightly powdery and floral in the aroma.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This is a mildly sweet cider with lots of fruit. 

Flavors and drinking experience: warm, medium acid, marshmallow

The pear flavors play mostly in the background, but its sweetness is unmistakable. Warm flavor. Medium acid, virtually no tannin. I think this would be so so good with buttery buttery pound cake. The flavors blends well through cream. I noticed green grape flavors after a sip or two. The highlight might be the mild natural marshmallow finish.

The last perry I wanted to introduce today is Crispin's Venus Reigns. I found this at a local bottle shop and the fact that the perry is aged in wine barrels intrigued me.

Official Description: 
The gift of the Golden Pear. 
To distract the gods while he stole fire for mortal man, Prometheus threw a Golden Pear into the courtyard of Olympus with the inscription, “For the most beautiful goddess”.  
This coveted pear was awarded to Venus, goddess of love, sensuality, and beauty. A goddess of nature, revered at springtime, the bringer of joy to gods and mortals.  
Venus Reigns caresses your lips with purity and charm. A soaring achievement of elegance and simplicity. Colfax golden pear wine aged to full maturity in specially selected red wine casks, nished with a gentle kiss of honey.  
Before pouring, give a solid bottoms-up tilt and swirl to disperse sediment evenly and best enjoy the complex aroma and bouquet.  
Best enjoyed at cellar temperature, 50/55F. With or without 1 or 2 ice cubes.

Appearance: saffron, brilliant, lots of bubbles

I actually expected more color from the wine barrels here, so I was suprised by the saffron color. The cider is brilliant with lots of bubbles. 

Aromas: pear, apple, berry, boozy

All sorts of stone fruits and berry notes show up in the aromas. Specifically, I can smell blueberry and blackberry. There's also bourbon presence or general booze barrel like rum, or port. Distantly the cider does show glimpses of banana and cherry; all the fruit aromas were  ripe. This isn't the ethereal delicacy I expect from perry.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This perry is sweet, but also bitter. Folks who usually only like sweet might be confused by the combination. 

Flavors and drinking experience: sweet, bitter, smoky, minerally

Wow, this perry is sweet! Wow, this perry is bitter! Both of these surprises are true along with  medium-high tannins and nearly no acid. There are flavors that remind me of raisins, stone, mineral, acrid. It's a dessert perry unto itself but don't pair it with sweet desserts (Did not go well with dark chocolate cake). 

The perry plays out a long lingering finish that creeps deeper on the tongue. I can connect that to the more familiar perry flavor of lychee that I associate with Sorbitol, but some of the sweetness is barrel related. There's also smoke and char going on. Venus Reigns offers up a full dynamic, big, taste but a thin mouthfeel. Its hard to imagine this being someone's favorite, but it is certainly interesting. I appreciate the level and style of bubbles: small and active. Perry people: is this what you've been missing? 

Fascinating. I don't know anything quite like it.

That's our start on perries; they are already demonstrably a flexible beverage. I look forward to tasting and sharing more next week.