Charles Neal, a San Francisco-based writer and wine importer, spent almost a decade researching and writing Armagnac: The Definitive Guide to France's Premier Brandy. He's now done it again with Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy, an all-encompassing volume that is the result of another 10-year period of travel, research and writing about the brandy based on the apples and pears of northern France.
What remains to be seen is how cider fits in a beverage market that is increasingly saturated with craft beer and local small-production wines.
Made by H. Weston and Sons, a cidery established in Hereforshire since 1880, still owned by the Weston family, this lovely sparkling dry cider was aged in oak vats, which probably explains its smooth, full-bodied character. Pleasantly and moderately effervescent, it shows aromas of fresh, well-ripened apples, reminiscent of "cooking" apples like Cortland or Braeburn. Acidity seems lower than in, say, a Blackthorn or a Strongbow, giving the Stowford Press a smoother overall feel, and a rounder profile, overall. A mellow and pleasant winter sipper, although a crisper style may be more pleasant on a hot summer day. You can read more tasting notes by Rémy Charest on The Wine Case.