Following up on last fall’s launch of apple hard cider, King Estate recently introduced pear hard cider to our Tasting Room menu. As with the apple, the pear cider is made with 100% estate-grown Biodynamic® fruit. Bartlett pears from the King Estate orchard yielded 13,935 pounds of fruit for the cider that made 400 cases. Both ciders are available only at King Estate.
The pear cider has a far different taste than the apple, according to Head Winemaker Brent Stone. Because this was the first time making pear cider, “it was like starting with a blank canvas,” Brent says. While the flavors are distinctive, both ciders are bright and dry and were made using a similar process, including being 100% barrel fermented in neutral French oak. Both the varietal character and barrel characteristics impart a pleasant, mild spice box note.
The apple cider is made from Golden Delicious, Gala and Braeburn apples – 14,542 pounds, in fact, that yielded 600+ cases. Pressed and bottled off site, the ciders are the result of King Estate’s productive orchards that put out more fruit than we can use in our Restaurant. King Estate is home to 26 acres of crops other than grapes – vegetables, flowers and fruits. The orchard alone is 14 acres – three of pears, seven of apples and four of plums.
The cider has a soft, round taste with a hint of fizz. Brent calls it “very much a winemakers’ cider.” In fact one might wonder why it isn’t labeled pear or apple wine. The answer lies in the sugar and alcohol levels – hard cider is typically lower in both. The apple hard cider has an alcohol level of 7.5% with slight residual sugar similar to a dry Riesling. The pear cider is even drier with an alcohol level of 6.97%. By comparison, the alcohol level of wine is typically around 13.5%.
The ciders sell for $8 for a 500 milliliter bottle (about 17 ounces). If you equate cider with apple juice, we think you are in for a happy surprise.