Thursday, August 25, 2011

Farnum Hill Kingston Black ’07 Reserve (NH)

The Poverty Lane Orchards and Farnum Hill Ciders are owned by Stephen M. Wood and Louisa D. Spencer, and are made with the help of their crew which includes Brenda Bailey, Fitzgerald Campbell, Jenny Daniel, Brian Goodwin, Lucas Kleinhans, Nicole LeGrand Leibon, Jacques Tourville, Jeff Williams, and Corrie Wolosin.

Farnum Hill Ciders are dry and complex. They grow true cider apples of English, French, and American origin. Cider apples, though nasty eaten fresh, produce gorgeous aromas, flavors and sensations after respectful fermentation and blending. New Hampshire weather seems to concentrate the flavors of certain English, European, and New World cider apples growing in our rocky clay soils.

Farnum Hill's ciders can suggest cornucopias of fruit flavor, without sweetness. (‘Fruity’ and ‘sweet’ are different.) According to Farnum Hill, "It’s best not to seek ‘apple’ in our ciders, any more than you’d hunt for ‘grape’ in a good wine (or ‘grain in a good beer, for that matter.) The sugars in these apples generally yield alcohol levels of 6.5-8.5% by volume. (Most dry grape wines contain between 11% and 15% alcohol.)"

Tannins are probably the most surprising feature of our ciders, because so many people learn that wine tannins come from grape skins, and therefore expect blond beverages to contain no tannins. Bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples contain potent tannins all the way through, as the first startling bite proves.

Given the tannic structure and bouquet of their ciders, Farnum Hill recommends serving their ciders at red wine temperatures, 55-ish Fahrenheit. (The recommended “room temperature” for red wines was phrased in the days before central heating.)

Kingston Black technically is a “bittersharp” apple variety, which in the English-speaking cider world means that its high tannin and acid levels make it a suitable cider apple: however, its sugar level, at least growing here, regularly yields 8.5% alcohol. They make only about 100 or so cases of this ‘Special Reserve.’ They don;t make it every year.

It is important to note that this is a still cider, in a 750ml bottle with straight cork. Its aromatic and flavor hooks range from floral through fruity (muskmelon) to something more subtle.

"Unlike our other ciders, Kingston Black in our view belongs with subtle dishes, rather than with spicy or otherwise rowdy flavors. Note that not only Kingston Black’s alcohol but also its price is quite high for a cider."

P.S. In old apple variety names, the word “black” means “extremely dark red.”

Their notes are spot on. The wine is more like a very, very good apple wine, more like a stoney chardonnay or a big riesling. It is like a dry, white, still white wine. And it is meant for chicken, pork chops, some nice pasta dishes, grilled vegetables, etc.

This is what FCH positions it to be - one of their best offerings...very special, very unique, very high quality, and worth the price.