Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Bonny Doon Querry: hard cider from Randall Grahm
That's why he's now in the cider business. He just likes the cider from Asturia, Spain, and decided to try his hand at making it.
For a guy who's one of the best promoters in the wine industry, he's not telling many people about his cider; heck, he hasn't even sent James Laube a bottle yet. I happened to be eating in the same restaurant as Grahm last weekend -- Oliveto in Oakland -- and saw it on the wine list. So I ran to his table and said, "You're making cider?" Without evicting his daughter from his lap, he told me the story.
For his first vintage, 2010, Grahm miscalculated how much pressure the in-bottle fermentation would cause and Boom! Half the bottles he filled exploded. Now he's worked out that problem, so fruit sourcing is his biggest issue.
Spain grows apples specifically for cider; they have more acidity and less sugar than eating apples. Those apples probably exist somewhere in California, but Grahm had a hard time sourcing them, so he decided to make the cider from apples, pears and quince.
The production may be a hassle, but the finished product is quite good. Bonny Doon Querry ($16) is very fruit-forward, yet dry and refreshing. Apple is the dominant flavor, but there's a waxiness to the aroma, possibly from the quince, that gives it good complexity. It's just 7% alcohol and is lightly sparkling.
The Spanish drink cider with mild blue cheese -- well, in Asturia they drink it with everything. I found Querry refreshing in the middle of a meal, as a change-of-pace palate cleanser. I can also see it as an interesting beer alternative with salty snacks while watching football. Maybe that's lowbrow, but in Asturia they're more famous for how they pour cider than how they drink it, so pairing with football might elevate it a notch. And it's nice to see Randall Grahm score another esoteric goal.
You can order Querry from the Bonny Doon website.
Posted by W. Blake Gray at 7:37 AM