With the mild weather we've been having this Winter, fermentations are much more advanced than during last years big freeze. I'm keen to get some of the earlier pressings, by which I mean the perrys, racked off from the sediment of primary fermentation. Hopefully I'll be in a position to do this within the next week or two, but in the mean time I couldn't resist dipping my 'wine thief' into some of perrys to see how they're progressing.
We sampled four batches of perry, and the contrast with the samples we tasted last year is really quite marked.
The first thing to say is that all of the perrys are clearing nicely, even the blend with quite a high proportion of Green Horse, which usually never clears entirely. Needless to say, the more advanced fermentation has resulted in drier perrys, with all but the Blakeney Red fully dry or med/dry now. Here are our scribbled notes:
Blakeney Red - Pleasantly sweet, soft, clean and with a rich pear fruitiness. There's quite a bit of tannin in the Blakeney this year which is a surprise.
Red Longdon - This is the first time we've had enough pears to make a single variety perry from this variety. At the moment it's producing a sharper, fruity perry which tastes quite similar to a medium/dry white wine.
Malvern Hills - The maceration has certainly had an effect, with much less tannin evident. This is the least impressively flavoured of the perrys at this stage. Dry, with some acidity, Karen described it as 'Crisp'. The Malvern Hills is a long way off being ready, and it should improve as it matures through the year.
Green Horse Blend - This blend has some Red Longdon and Oldfield in it, and it's perhaps the most complex of the perrys we tasted today. There's quite a lot of tongue-coating tannin, and Karen found a slight 'woodiness' in there. It's dry and fruity, with a long finish.
I'm very pleased with the overall condition of the perrys we tried, all of which are clean and fresh, with no signs of the potential problems which can sometimes afflict this delicate drink. I would have to say that at this stage they are all slightly less full-flavoured than last seasons perrys, largely down to being much drier, but possibly also the result of the more vigorous fermentation. Another 2-3 months maturation will give us a much better idea of how things have turned out this year.