Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Amazing Redfield Apple

photo source
I recently had a chance to sample a couple ciders from West County--one of the pioneers of American cider.  They were both impressive and accomplished, exhibiting what I'm beginning to think is a New England penchant for tart, vinous products. The more interesting thing, however, was the discovery of the apple used to make their Redfield single varietal cider.  It's one of the few single apples that can make a credible, complex cider with a wonderful balance of acids and tannins (better, perhaps, than Kingston Black).  But the real kicker is the appearance: deeply-stained red flesh, a color that communicates itself to the final cider. 

It dates to 1939 and is a cross between a Wisconsin heirloom called Wolf River and a tree from Kyrgyzstan--the most likely ancestor of the domestic apple--called Niedzwetzkyana.  Niedzwetzkyana is, like Redfield, red-skinned and red-fleshed, and the trees even have red leaves.  Classified as a crab, they are nevertheless described as not overly tart.  It's a cold-hardy fruit, which may be one reason it flourishes in Colrain, Massachusetts.  Would it still develop that wonderful complexity in the warmth of the West Coast?  Either way, it's a great apple, and one I'd like to see more Americans use as a local alternative to English and French bittersharps most Americans have been busily planting. 

If you find yourself in New England, try to track down a bottle of West County's Redfield--it's a lovely  cider.

West County Redfield Cider


  1. I've served the Redfield at Thanksgiving dinner a few times. It's festive and food-friendly, like many rosé wines.

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