Bob Manley shares his top 10 wines from Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith.

2013 Petite Blue – $18.95 (750ml)

Made with small, whole, wild, lowbush blueberries from Maine, this blueberry wine is bursting with fresh blueberry aromas and flavors and is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins: an entire pound of these blueberries are in each and every bottle of the wine!

A cold soak process, partial carbonic fermentation, whole berry approach, low fermentation temperature, and reductive process help retain, enhance, and reveal the natural depth of flavor of the fruit. The raw processing and fermentation with a Rhone strain of yeast enhances the health benefits of this great fruit. As with all our wines, no added tannins, no must adjustments by chemical additives to alter the flavor of the wine.

Unlike many available blueberry wines, this is not sweet and more akin to a Pinot Noir with great depth and complexity created through the careful blend of small amounts of elderberry, black currant, and blackberry wines. Serve slightly chilled to cool room temp. This off dry wine is great on its own and with a wide range of foods, including fish, lamb, and crusty breads.

In July, 2014, the Editor of Food and Wine Magazine, Ray Isle, shared our Petite Blue Reserve with Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today show.

2013 Heirloom Crabapple – $18.95 (750 ml)

Our signature wine, the first batch (2008) was based on Bob and Jerilyn’s tree, here at the winery. These Dolgo crabapples are an heirloom variety, originally from Kazakhstan and introduced here several hundred years ago. They are relatively large for crabapples, beautiful, sweet, tart and tannic. The perfect fruit for an exciting wine.

As with all our wines, the fresh whole fruit is gently handled and processed raw with emphasis on getting the full fruit characteristics into the bottle.  Source of the fruit for our Crabapple wine this year is from the tree here at the winery and also from Scott Farm in Vermont, where they note that during harvest the crew will often use these crabapples to suck on for a boost to help finish filling that last apple bin late in the day.

2013 Harvest Apple Wine – $14.95 (750 ml)

This off-sweet, tangy wine is a great aperitif and also an excellent partner with a wide variety of foods, including spicy dishes, light meals, breads, etc. Some enjoy it over ice as a boost to help finish the day.

Annually a group of local friends assemble at our friend the Zimmer’s house here in Sanbornton to make cider from apples we have collected from our own and others’ apple trees. A wide variety of apples expressing the terroir of the greater Sanbornton Area are handled by many through washing, cutting, crushing, and pressing to produce wonderfully complex and robust cider and each year, true to nature, the cider is different.

This ‘Sanbornton Cider’ is combined with sweet cider from Cardigan Mountain Orchard, also a fresh, raw cider with great balance and sweetness.  This year, we also combined a small percentage of an heirloom apples grown at Scott Farm called the Roxbury Russet. An ‘old leathercoat,’ this is a classic cider apple grown in New England, France and England to make superior ciders specifically for wine. The Roxbury adds a depth and full quality to the wine.  These three ciders were blended and gently processed, fermented cool to preserve the fresh fruit aromas and flavors. To enhance the depth of flavor and round-out the apple flavors, for many months the wine is left on its fine lees (a well known “sur lee” process). This cider wine is excellent on its own and also pairs well with light and spicy foods, including appetizers, shrimp cocktail, or spinach pie. It is the best wine we know of to have with lobster. Serve this off-dry wine chilled.

2013 Kiwi Wine – $14.95 (375 ml)  $22 (750 ml)

This wine is made from locally grown kiwi, a great little fruit, similar to common New Zealand/California kiwi but these are smaller and the skin lacks fur; you eat the entire fruit like a large grape. They are hardy plants, surviving the NH winters and do not need any chemical help to resist bugs or diseases, so these are 100%organic, grown by our friends Greg and Hillary in Canterbury.

We process the whole fruit raw and ferment at low temperatures to capture the fresh unique and somewhat tropical character of this outstanding fruit. The wine is finished off dry and can be compared to a Reisling. Excellent on its own or with light summer fare, including gazpacho, fresh fruit and salads.

2013 Three-Honey Wine – $18.95 (375 ml) $32 (750 ml)

Three separate, raw, unfiltered, wildflower honeys are blended to make this special mead (honey wine): from Ken’s hives here in Sanbornton, from hives in the southern portion of New Hampshire and northeastern Mass. Each honey has a distinct character and contribution to the aromatic, light but intense, long lasting and complex flavors of this “show mead.” The cool fermentation temperatures, raw and reductive processing, and strong-happy-healthy yeast fermentation helped to capture all of the nuances of each of the three honeys into each bottle.  Our first batch of this wine won a silver medal at the National, American Wine Society’s Commercial Wine Competition. Drink 2014-2024+

This is a versatile wine which can be served chilled to room temp., enjoyed on its own or with a wide variety of foods, but best with those that do not overpower its alluring and delicate nose.

2013 Lake House Red  – $34 (750 ml)

A complex blend of dark berries yield a wine with surprising grape-like depth and sophistication. Made from whole, organic blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, and wild low bush blueberries, this is the ‘Burgundy’ of New Hampshire. Pair this deep, rich, dry wine with flavorful meat dishes and creamy sauces.  Drink 2014-2019+

2013 Lake House White – $22 (375 ml) $38 (750 ml)

An engaging blend of local, organic, whole peaches, rhubarb, quince, and rosehips, fermented and aged ‘sur lie’ with a White Burgundy strain of yeast and French oak. A ‘Peach Chablis’ of sorts but without Chardonnay grapes … no grapes at all, actually. Enjoy this crisp and deeply complex dry white wine with many light foods. Drink 2014-2019+.

2013 Boathouse Blue – $22.95 (750 ml)

Small, whole, wild, lowbush blueberries from Maine pushed into Burgundy territory through the use of a French yeast, classic vinifera wine-making processes including malolactic fermentation and aging in an oak barrel. This blueberry wine is bursting with fresh blueberry aromas and flavors and is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins: over a pound of these blueberries are in each and every bottle of the wine!  As with all our wines, no added tannins, no must adjustments by chemical additives to alter the flavor of the wine. Enjoy this deep dry red wine as you would any Pinot Noir. Will age well.

2013 MAPLE BLUE – $24.95 (750ml)

Somewhat similar to our Pinot Blue but instead of sugar and water (because blueberries on their own will not ferment to 11% alcohol), we use 100% maple sap from our sugar maple trees here at Hermit Woods, concentrated over a wood-fired syruping pan. The blueberries and maple sap are fermented with a Rhone yeast strain at about 70F, co-inoculated with a malolactic culture and pushed through secondary malolactic fermentation to remove the malic acid. The same process used in the vinification of fine big red wine grapes, such as merlot and cabernet. This wine is then aged in an oak barrel for additional tannins and flavor components

2013 Red Scare – $24.95 (375 ml)

Extracting Honey

This is a unique wine. A multiberry melomel comprised of blueberry, blackberry, elderberry, and honey wines in proportions to provide balance, structure, and long-deep flavors.  The original batches were made entirely from fruit and honey from our wine maker, Ken Hardcastle’s property and this year that has been expanded to include our partner Chuck Lawrence’s blackberries, and elderberries from John and Ollie who live in nearby Meredith, and our award wining three-honey wine.

All the fruit and honey used in this wine was picked and processed by hand with focused attention to obtain the best flavors. For added tannins, a tea made from Staghorn Sumac flower cones from Ken’s backyard is infused with the wine. This intense, off dry wine holds up well with many foods and is very enjoyable on its own.  I enjoy it most slightly chilled. It can be consumed now but will age very well. The first batch from 2008 is still getting better. This is named for my son’s ultimate frisbee team and the intense red color of the wine.

Bonus Selections:

2012 HERMITAGE – $36.00 (750ml)

True terroir. An engaging blend of wines made from the dark fruit that grows best in our region: organic black currants, wild low bush blueberries, and organic elderberries. Each fermented dry and barrel aged to create Bordeaux-style, depth, and character. Drink 2014-2024.

2012 Melange – $48  (375 ml)

A melomel (fruit+honey wine) made from all local, all organic, all whole, honey, blueberries, elderberries, blackberries, and black currants. Utilizing cold fermentation to trap aromas, this sweet, port-like, higher alcohol wine is a great dessert treat. A complex and engaging sipping wine. Drink 2014 -2024+.