Opolo Vineyards donated two different spirits to the recent Cocktails on the Roof non-profit event I co-hosted. They were very generous in sending a total of 3 cases for our 400-person event…and since they sent the cases to me…I asked if I could pilfer a couple of the bottles to drink…err taste…and they said yes. Truth be told even more, I had tasted their grappa during a recent visit with distiller Paul Quinn but the other spirit I received for our event, the pear brandy, was still being made.
Williams Pear Brandy
Eau-de-Vie “Water of Life”
42.5% alcohol (85 proof)
Excerpt from back label: “…The aroma and flavor of the brandy should feel exactly like biting into a ripe Bartlett pear. Serve chilled or neat.
Aroma: Yes, I do get fresh cut pears, then a bit of hazelnut, almond, yogurt, vanilla, juniper, lime, mown grass, suede…my imagination ran the full gamut of memories this one called up.
Flavor: Lots of pears in light pear syrup, banana, rye toast, unsalted butter, viscous and a pleasant burn that ends in a nice round finish. (Note: I often use brandies, liqueurs and even flavored vodkas instead of vermouth in a vodka martini.
The whisper of a flavored spirit can enhance your vodka, and not make it cloyingly sweet like say a Cosmopolitan or Lemon Drop Martini. This Opolo Pear Brandy would lend itself well to that approach.) 96 Eve pts.
42.5% alcohol (85 proof)
Excerpt from back label: “…in Italy (grappa is made) to reduce wasted pomace from wine making. (It) should be served chilled, neat or enjoy with espresso.
Aroma: Welcoming as there is no burn, toffee roasted walnut, black licorice, baked red delicious apple, creamy finish.
Flavor: There’s the burn, but only at the finish as expected. Robust viscosity and mouthfeel, fresh cut anise, Mandarin orange and meringue. Wholly pleasant. Would be a great aperitif or digestif in my opinion.
96 Eve pts.
From the Opolo Distillery
With Opolo’s rich ties to the Balkan coast, co-owners Rick Quinn and Dave Nichols have combined their winemaking expertise with traditional recipes to create complex fruit brandies. Distilled from the fermented fruit itself, the brandies have not been adulated with added flavors. Our first release includes Grappa from Opolo’s estate grown Muscat Blanc, a William’s Pear Brandy distilled from northern California Bartlett pears and a Nocino, a walnut based liqueur made from our organic estate walnuts. Come by and experience the distillery!
Available for purchase in the Tasting Room.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com