Well folks, I received some fantastic news earlier this week. I learned that I had received several awards at the 2009 Winepress.US Winefest Competition! Three of my wines received honorable mention awards (2008 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Zinfandel Rose, and 2008 Blueberry), and, more exciting, the 2008 Apple was awarded a Gold Medal and chosen as Best of Show White!
Wow! I was walking on air!
I haven't gotten the judges' notes yet, so I don't know what their comments were yet. But if I needed a shot in the arm that perhaps I do know what I'm doing, this was it! I still have 7 bottles of the 2008 Apple, so I'm going to save 3-4 and enter them in a couple of other competitions next spring. Stay tuned for those results!
I thought I had written a post about the 2008 Apple, but going back through my archive tells me that I apparently have not. Well, let's just rectify that briefly. The wine was made from a premium blend of cider from Carlson Orchards in Harvard, MA that I purchased from Beer & Wine Hobby in Woburn, MA. I don't know the exact apple varieties that went into the cider, but the cider is supposed to be specifically designed for making premium hard cider. I do recall that it was tasty cider!
I won't bore you with all the fermentation details, but my goal for this wine was to produce a clean, crisp, dry wine akin to a sauvignon blanc or pinot gris. I added lysozymes to prevent malo-lactic fermentation and maintain the crisp taste & finish. Fermentation was done with Red Star Cote des Blanc yeast over a 2 month period at low temperature in the basement. This was during November & December in Massachusetts, so my basement air temperature was about 58-59 °F. After fermentation to complete dryness, the wine was allowed to clear naturally over 3 months with 2 rackings, and three gallons were bottled in May. I will have to admit that I haven't tasted this wine in a couple of months, but my tasting notes shortly after bottling are below.
Appearance: Crystal clear, light straw yellow
Aroma: Crisp green apple, like sniffing a Granny Smith fresh from the tree.
Taste: Crisp, mild apple flavor with a slight tingle on the tongue. Light body.
I will have to taste it again soon and update my tasting notes. I also made another gallon that was lightly oaked with medium toast French oak cubes for about 2 months. When I bottled that, I actually liked it even more than the unoaked version. I haven't cracked a bottle of that open yet, but will do so soon! Too bad I only have 4 bottles of that left.
I was waffling about making this wine again, but winning that award changed my mind. I just placed an order for 8 gallons a couple of days ago. I'm thinking of making 2 separate 4 gal batches using different yeasts and then blend them together to add some complexity. When I receive the medal and award, I'll take a picture with the bottle and post it to the blog for posterity.