Hermit Woods Winery in New Hampshire is one of the cutting edge wineries of the East. They make no grape-based wines at all, but offer a cornucopia of original and thoughtfully blended wines from local fruits and honey.
With cool wet weather this week I enjoyed two of their dark fruit-based wines. They were fresh, fruity but dry and zesty and a fun, original departure from regular grape-based wines. See my tasting notes from April 2nd for their Hermitage and Red Scare Oak wines also
Hermit Woods Lake House Red
Described as the winery’s “Burgundy” through use of MLF and oak, the wine skillfully fits its billing. The nose has bright lifted red fruits reminiscent of cassis and the gamay grape, with red and black cherries in the background. With these aromatics, this wine could be a cool climate grape wine made from exotic grapes like zweigelt, lemberger, gamay, chambourcin or st. croix.
On the palate, the wine started with vibrantly fresh acidity, with red and black cherry flavors, but on the mid-palate and finish, the wine was more balanced, with a round smooth texture thanks to malolactic fermentation and 13.3% alcohol (this fine fruit wine was fermented to dryness). True to its “Burgundy” comparison, this wine drinks like a cru Beaujolais or even a top passetout grains, with the black cherry notes in the background. It could even be compared to a premier cru Loire cabernet franc. Stylishly Old World-like in a cool climate comparison to fine red grape wines. $34/750 ml.
Hermit Woods Petit Blue
This is a stylishly fruity but dry wine that is very New World in its bright, clean fruitiness. It’s most reminiscent of an unoaked Argentinian malbec or Australian shiraz. An entire pound of wild low-bush blueberries are in each and every bottle, but because it’s dry, it’s more elegant than you’d expect. On the nose, vibrant blue/black briar fruits and no oak. On the palate, it’s young and fruity but also the acidity is lively; the wine can age and integrate with time. I was surprised to see the alcohol was 13.9% because the wine is so smooth and also lively and fresh. The wine is not hot though, just very vibrantly juicy, and New World in style. I think this would beat a lot of oaked cabernets, merlots, malbecs and shiraz grape-based wines. A classy dry fruit wine that shows how clean, pure fruit wines with quality fruit, handled with care, can take their place proudly next to grape-based wines. $19.95/750 ml.