The Äppelwoi experiment, part IV
During the second-to-last stage of racking the cider into a secondary fermentation vessel, it turned out there was a smidge of a surplus of our little trial at replicating a Frankfurt-style applewine, not enough to warrant prepping a new fermenter, but just the right amount for prepping a small half liter bottle for some quick cold conditioning and a preliminary taste. This past weekend, with the quickening shortened hours of the onset of autumn at odds with a true summer's heat, it was the obvious opportunity to check in on our little experiment.
And, not bad. It had more in common with the exemplar Äppelwoi than I'd anticipated, especially considering its youth and the fact that we had forgone mimicking the barrel-aging process. Dead flat, dry, slightly tart yet completely redolent of a freshly sliced sweet apple, all flowers and honey and just a hint of earthiness, it was close to my memories of the later, spring taste of that individually German cider style. (In fact, the final gravity came out to .995, which meant that it's come out to just over 9% alcohol by volume. Strong by conventional cider standards, sure, but gone is the candy and the stickiness, the fear that you might be attracting yellowjackets by merely sitting it out, and in its place the very edge of the essence of wine, the very hint of it.)
Time will likely clarify it, and we'll certainly be carbonating it slightly to capture the mouthfeel of a cask under pressure, but it's not a bad start. Will it retain its more expressive aromas as it ages, or will they drop out, leaving it slightly on the bland side? Would it have benefited from a more tannic backbone to help keep itself straight during the last of its conditioning? Time will tell. Hale's already appearing at the farmers' market with wilder heirloom varietals and potential for strange cider making galore. Hard to keep it all straight, make room for all this experimenting, hoping the holidays bring thirsty, thirsty, equally experimental guests to our door...