Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Very Perry May: Aeppeltreow's Orchard Oriole Perry and Big Fish Cider Co.'s Church Hill Blush

Welcome back to Very Perry May! This week, I want to share my thoughts on a more traditional perry, but also sample something else springy to stretch out my perry stores to last the rest of the month. It’s a beautiful time of the year right now, and I am so thrilled to spend it on this avenue of the cider world. 

This week’s perry is from Aeppeltreow winery and distillery out of Wisconsin. This small producer is one of my favorites because each beverage truly is its own beast, made from committedly interesting fruit choices and fermented with care. I received this bottle as a review sample after the cider maker saw last year’s Very Perry May.

Visit the website at: http://aeppeltreow.com/

Here are my previous review of Aeppeltreow ciders:

Most relevant is last year’s review of the Sparkling Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt-1-aeppeltreow.html

Similarly sparkly, I do love the Appley Brut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-appeltreow-winerys-appley.html

My first review of anything by Aeppeltreow was the Barnswallow: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/03/cider-review-appeltreow-barnswallow.html

And my all time favorite of the bunch thus far, the Kinglet Bitter: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/09/cider-review-appletreow-kinglet-bitter.html

Official description of the Orchard Oriole Perry, “English traditional perry pears. Complex and tannic. Fermented to highlight cultivars and terroir. Subtle pear, different from Bartlett and not-so-subtle tannins, tart, slightly bubbly." 5.5% ABV

And some background,
Oriole Perry is our proud ‘estate’ perry.  It’s grown at Brightonwoods, within sight of the Winery.   It’s more subtle and complex than the Sparkling Perry- being fermented from 100% bitter perry pears.  We ferment it with a Sangiovese yeast that we think really brings out the tannin characters of the perry-specific cultivars.  These pears are exceedingly rare in the US, and not easy to grow.  When we get the question ‘Then why use them?’, we pour a glass of Oriole.  These are not mellow, easy-going French ‘butter pears’.  Perry pears think they are Cabernet – and have the tannins to back it up.

Appearance: deep topaz, brilliant, some bubbles

It took me much thinking and gesticulating to even approach this color with words. It’s a lovely tawny somber shade with some fire and clarity. Of course I think of semi-precious stones, and this one does remind me of my birthstone, topaz, in its dark yet brilliant form. I can see bubbles in the glass, and its there’s no hint of haze.

Aromas: Perry pears, tropical fruit, perfume

This perry smells distinctly like perry pears as opposed to dessert pears. Just like cider apples, perry pears are not enjoyable to eat  The aromas are intense and welcoming. I smell ripe tropical fruit, flowers, with a hint of concentrated sweetness. The overall impression is both perfume in its ethereal floral sense and also lush tropical immediacy.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

It’s hard to describe this perry in terms of its sweetness, because it offers so much more. This does remind me of the unfermentable sugars in pear juice.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins

The Orchard Oriole Perry tastes immediately of high tannins from these special pears. The high tannins create strong drying action, but with a nice amount of sweetness still. The perry has very immediate pear flavor, but not not like Bartlett pears. The Orchard Oriole perry tastes fresh, with a pleasant high note of sourdough bread.

I’m grateful that the perry has a good amount of sparkle with small bubbles. That combination of mouthfeel features is a neat juxtaposition of cottony or astringent while also being scintillating and exciting. In terms of fruit flavors, there’s more than just pear going including a very round, lychee-ish taste. As I sip more, the tropical acidity lingers. The Orchard Oriole Perry is very beautifully  balanced and delicious to contemplate. Even if with all those tannins, it’s not thirst-quenching as such. 

I love that this perry is playful and enjoyable yet serious. It’s an unambiguous winner.

This is my first review of anything by Big Fish Cider Co., starting with the Church Hill Blush. This bottle is a review sample from Cider Con.

This Virginia cidery won a 2018 Good Food Award, and they’ve cleaned up at GLINTCAP, yet they launched in only 2015. Big Fish Cider Co. is based in Monteray, Virginia, where they have a tasting room. 

Read more about the company here: http://www.bigfishcider.com

The official description gives some nice context. 
Sparkling clear rose colored Medium Sweet cider, featuring locally grown heirloom apples and fermented with locally grown raspberries.  
Other than apples, I know of no other fruit that tops raspberries in the cellars and the hearts of cidermakers.  Church Hill Blush is made with raspberries from a local Highland County farm, Church Hill Produce. The color and the aroma are completely natural. This is a bright, festive drink that is poured for celebrations, big and small. 
The Raspberry comes through on the nose and at the beginning of the palate, with the sprightly apple flavors coming through to the finish. The sparkling character, the brightness of flavor, the beauty of the color, and the amazing aroma of this cider makes it a favorite for celebrations, weddings, anniversaries, and life’s celebrations. 
This cider also can pair well with just about any poultry dish, particularly crispy skin recipes. Also this can pair nicely with fruit salads.

Appearance: rose gold, brilliant

Rose colored ciders are just so lovely. I am not normally a fan of pink shades, but this rosegold is undeniably pretty. As the photo shows, it’s brilliant as well. 

Aromas: fresh raspberry, raspberry leaves, apple

Oooh! Such summery smells! This cider’s aromas has a backbone of apple, but fresh raspberry up front. I also get an almost tea like note of raspberry leaf. Very neat!

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

Though this cider is sweet and fruity, it is complex. 

Flavors and drinking experience: ripe raspberry, high acid, balanced

What’s most important to me in any fruit-blended cider, is the final balance between the added fruit and the cider flavors themselves, I never want to taste just berry or just spice. The Church Hill Blush does an excellent job in that it has a very good balance between apple and raspberry. 

The cider starts with a dark and almost bitter first note, but that quickly gives way to notably sweet mid palate. The flavor of ripe raspberry comes across clearly. I notice both medium sparkle and  medium high acidity, with just a bit of tannin. This cider’s sweetness lingers but doesn't cloy. I am so impressed by this presence of both raspberry and apple. It doesn’t hurt that these two fresh fruits happen to be two of my favorites.

Keep reading for more perries all month!