Maker: Crispin, Colfax, California, USA.
Fruit: Unknown apple and pear varieties.
Style: Pear cider (Pear & apple)
Price: $11/6 pack of 12 oz bottles (Binny’s)
Appearance: Light gold, moderate carbonation.
Nose: Mild cut Bartlett pear.
Palate: Light-bodied. Dessert pear, semi-dry Riesling.
Finish: Clean, a little sweetness.
Parting words: As I learned from the comments on the last pear cider I reviewed, there is a difference between a pear cider and a true perry. This is the former. It’s a relatively dry and crisp, although no one would ever mistake it for a dry English or Norman cider. Pacific Pear has a good amount of pear flavor but still sticks to the Crispin house which is crisp and easy-drinking. This is a fine entry pear cider or good for pounding back at a summer BBQ. Pacific Pear is recommended.
Maker: Brown-Forman, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Proof: 95 (47.5% ABV)
Michigan state minimum: $55
Appearance: Medium copper.
Nose: Peanut brittle, toffee, tarragon.
Palate: Caramel, date, fig, five spice powder.
Finish: Hot and sweet with tarragon.
Parting words: The Statesman was intended to be a limited release to promote the film The Kingsmen: The Golden Circle in 2017. The movie got mixed reviews, but the bourbon was popular so they kept it around.
It’s richer and spicier than the 86 and 100 proof Old Forester expressions and it occupies a place at the top of the price range of the main Old Forester line, ten dollars above Old Forester Single Barrel. It pushes a bit on its $55 price, but it’s full-flavored and good for sipping or high-end mixing with nothing unpleasant at all. It does get a little thin if it hangs around too long in the bottle, but drink it before it gets to that point and it’s not a problem. Old Forester: The Statesman is recommended.
Maker: Domaine Berrien, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA
Grape: Vignoles (at least 85%)
Place of origin: Lake Michigan Shore (Berrien Springs)
Purchased for $16 from Michigan by the Bottle, Royal Oak (Sipper Club)
Appearance: Bright gold.
Nose: Honey, camomile, lychee.
Palate: Semi-dry and medium bodied. Peach nectar (without the sweetness), mineral water, woodruff.
Finish: Strong lychee, drying.
Parting words: Vignoles is one of what I have dubbed on Twitter the “noble hybrids”, hybrid wine grape varieties that are capable of being good even when bottled as a varietal. The others on my list are Traminette, Chardonel, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin and Baco Noir.
Vignoles is often made in a sweet style but also does well in dry and off-dry styles, as in this wine. It’s not complex, but is very pleasant with food or for Saturday afternoon sipping any time of year. 2015 Domaine Berrien Vignoles is recommended.