2017 Floralia Botanical Mead, Enlightenment Wines, Brooklyn, New York
Wine of the Week with Annette Tomei
Wine, by definition, is fermented fruit juice. So, maybe I’m going a bit beyond the scope of this column by including a “honey wine.” I hope you’ll agree that it is well worth a diversion to discover something new – a taste adventure with Floralia Botanical Mead.
What is Mead wine?
Mead is an ancient fermented beverage in which honey is the primary sugar. (It is not technically wine, though it is frequently referred to as a honey wine.) Fruits, botanicals, aromatics, and herbs may also be incorporated. Though often associated with vikings and Renaissance “faires”, mead is an international beverage with its deepest roots in China and India. Mead is also one of the fastest growing beverage markets in the US. It helps that mead is generally produced from local bounty, gluten-free, natural, and seasonal.
Enlightenment Wines Meadery was founded in 2009 by mazer (mead-maker) Raphael Lyon in New York’s Hudson Valley. Production has recently expanded to include a facility in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Enlightenment Wines has a cultivated reputation for experimental, artistic adventures in flavor.
Lyon’s everything-but-grapes approach to wine making delivers deliciously exotic experiences. I’ve tasted his meads made from local apples, hand-foraged dandelions, tea, cassis, and tart cherries. Styles range from sparkling mead to still, sweet to bone dry. All are made from local raw organic honey (though their products are not certified organic).
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About this sweet honey wine
Floralia Botanical Mead is an off-dry style mead made with juniper, lavender, and marjoram. It is intensely aromatic. The essence of fir trees combined with a warm sunny hillside along the Mediterranean. The off-dry style means there is a bit of sweetness on the palate, but not so much to detract from the overall savory flavor profile. The finish is quite dry.
Serve chilled by itself, Floralia Botanical Mead makes a wonderful aperitif or digestif. As an accompaniment to food, I recommend earthy cheeses and buttery olives, or maybe a warm Provencal bean stew. I also recommend this mead drink as a substitute for gin in some cocktails. The aromatic composition is similar, the alcohol content significantly lower at about 12% ABV. Or, include it IN your gin cocktails as a complementary component far superior to nearly any vermouth.
My mead recommendation
The aphrodisiac properties of each ingredient are only enhanced by their combination, so consider this an ideal aperitif to more than a meal! It is available online for approximately $25/375 ml bottle. It is produced in extremely small quantities, so hurry. (if not available, Enlightenment has numerous other delicious options)
If you happen to be in Brooklyn, visit Honey’s in Bushwick for a variety of items on tap and cocktails made with mead and more.
My new mission…to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!
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