Randall Grahm, cider-meister?

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.)

One other not-so-small problem: About half of the 300-case lot of the 2010 Querry exploded, and the rest had to be decanted and re-bottled, Grahm said over dinner at his Cellar Door restaurant.

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.

1 Response

  1. Pingback : Grahm, still “doon” good | Decant This! … the wine blog of Bill Ward

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