Last weekend, I had the great good fortune of spending several hours with the inimitable Randall Grahm, a fabulous winemaker and thinker whose journey has always, by design, including new explorations. I’ll be doing the profile-y thing here soon enough, but I’m especially enamored with his latest excursion:
Cider. Made like wine. Specifically, like Champagne.
Grahm is going the full methode-y, as in methode Champenoise. Fermenting in the bottle, giving dosage, riddling the bottles, all that.
He’s confident in the practices at the winery, which include custom pressing, but has had a bit of a problem getting the orchard farmers on board with treating their fruit like viticulturists treat grapes.
“Growers think of apples and pears as commodities,” he said. So getting them to practice canopy management, much less dropping fruit, has been a challenge. (Next time you meet a farmer who is willing to destroy some of his crop a month or two before harvest, well, let’s just say that that’s why vintners often pay growers by the acre rather than the ton.)
Misadventures aside, this is an incredibly tasty, intriguing bottle of fermented apple, pear and quince. It’s available from the winery for $16. It’s tightly wound but full-flavored, tickles the palate and throat and throws in a near-endless finish.
Grahm caught the cider bug when his French winemaking counterpart Didier Dageneau came for a visit with cider-meister Eric Bordelet, and they sampled Bordelet’s iconic Poiré Granit cider. A few years later, Querry was birthed.
Grahm, as is his wont, has a couple of other fascinating projects going, including storing some of his Cigare Volant white wine in carboys and a seed-growing program that is yielding highly individualistic vines.
But I’m seriously glad that he’s hopped on the cider house wagon, and that he’s forging a his usual compelling trail in that world.