In an attempt to capture Delaware's summertime peach season in a glass, T.S. Smith & Sons, in partnership with Great Shoals Winery, has launched the state's first hard sparkling peach cider.
This is the second sparkling cider the two Delmarva entities have released in collaboration, the first being Black Twig Hard Apple, which was launched in 2012. The new cider is titled Blazing Star, after the type of peach used in its production.
"On the heels of the success of our apple cider, we thought we'd try to do the same thing with peaches," said Charlie Smith of the Bridgeville-based T.S. Smith & Sons. "We took a leap of faith in doing this because nobody in Delaware has ever made a hard peach cider."
According to Matt Cimino of Great Shoals Winery in Princess Anne, Md., the cider is a combination of blazing star peaches, chosen for their rich flavor, and ginger gold apples, chosen for their crisp acidity.
Cimino said the apples and peaches are fermented separately in stainless steel tanks. The apples are crushed, pressed, and fermented to dryness. The peaches are each pitted manually, floated in spring water, and fermented to dryness.
"After both fermentations were complete, we did some bench trials to figure out the right balance of the two wines, and it turned out to be 50/50," Cimino said. "We really wanted the flavors of both fruits to be present in the glass. You'll taste a bit of apple and you'll get a peach finish."
Feedback from the Black Twig cider reflected a desire for less effervescence, or bubbles.
"So this one is not going to be quite as fizzy as the Black Twig," Cimino said. "But none the less, it's still considered by the federal government to be a champagne."
Blazing Star, which has no added flavors, colors or concentrates, will be released in small quantities, as a trial to determine whether it will be as successful as the awarding-wining Black Twig. T.S. Smith & Sons' peaches are tree ripened and hand-picked, and Great Shoals is a small batch winery.
"We hear from people all the time that they learned about Black Twig by getting it as a gift," said Greer Stangl, a spokesperson for T.S. Smith & Sons. "We think that is because it's available in limited quantities. People know they are buying something that has a local and unique appeal, [and] it makes a unique and tasteful gift."
The cider is available at local wine and liquor stores at the retail price of $16.99, and will be served at local restaurants, starting with those owned by renowned local chef Jay Caputo. Just prior to its launch, Blazing Star became available at Caputo's three Delaware beach restaurants – Espuma, Cabo, and Rose and Crown.
Page 2 of 2 - Caputo said his staff is trying to use the cider creatively, which includes using it in sangria and in various cocktails.
"It's got a little bubble to it, so it's a nice way to finish a cocktail and give it a little brightness of flavor," he said.
Creating a hard cider using peaches from a local, historic orchard contributes to the ongoing state and national "farm to table" trend, which encourages consumers to buy and eat locally. A partnership between T.S. Smith & Sons and Local on the Menu, a program designed to foster direct marketing relationships between Sussex County's producers and restaurants, furthers this initiative with the local distribution of Blazing Star.
Local on the Menu will be selling Blazing Star by the glass and bottle at T.S. Smith & Sons' Spring Celebration on May 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
T.S. Smith & Sons is a 106-year-old, fourth generation family farm located at 8887 Redden Road in Bridgeville. They operate a farm market that is open daily from mid-April through Dec. 23 each year. The farm will be present this year at the Georgetown Farmer's Market, which begins May 22 and will be held in the North Bedford Street Park.