Last Thursday, Le Dolci in Dundas West held an evening of mead, honey and cheese tasting, hosted by Krystina Romen from Rosewood Estates. Rosewood is an apiary, a winery and a meadery. Krystina gave us some background on the beekeeping side of things and explained how they produce honey. It’s a really interesting process. Some quick facts about beekeeping:
-A single honeybee will fly approximately 50,000km and visit over 1,000,000 flowers to make one pound of honey. Good thing that the average number of bees per hive is 75,000!
-A worker bee (most of which are female) lives for about 30-42 days. The Queen Bee, however, lives between 3-5 years.
-Honey never goes bad and doesn’t need to be refrigerated after opening.
-Bees only fly within a 5km radius of their hives. That means that by carefully selecting the location of a hive, it is possible to control the types of flowers that the bees use to make honey. Rosewood’s bees make their honey from wild flowers, clover, mint, goldenrod and Russian sage.
And then we got to the tasting! First we tried Rosewood’s honey. It’s 100% raw and unpasteurized, and because of the natural process of its production, its taste can change from year to year depending on which flowers are more abundant. It was mild and sweet, but the sweetness wasn’t overwhelming. I tried it later on some blue cheese and nearly died. That is a pairing that you should try whether or not you’re a fan of blue cheese. It just might convert you!
The first mead that we tried was the 2009 Mead Blanc. It’s fermented with Gewurtztraminer juice and aged in a stainless steel tank to preserve its unique aromas of mandarin orange, ripe pineapple and lychee. We paired this with a mango & ginger Stilton and the two got along very nicely on my palate.
Next we tried the Mead Noir, which is a new release. It’s produced in the same way as the Mead Blanc, but is fermented with Pinot Noir juice. It had flavours of fresh strawberries, dried raspberries, and apricot.
Next was the 2007 Mon Cherie, blended with sour cherry juice. I had expected something much more sour, but it was very sweet. Krystina recommended that we try this one with one with chocolate and it was a winning combination.
The 2008 Mead Royale is aged in French oak barrels for 8 months. It was sweeter than some of the other meads that we’d had because it wasn’t blended with anything. This is a pure honey wine. It had wonderful hints of caramelized pears, and a very viscous mouth-feel. This paired beautifully with the goat Beemster and would go well with other sharp cheddars. This is the only bottle that we tasted that night that’s currently available at select LCBOs.
I forgot to take a picture of the last glass of mead… After 4 glasses can you really blame me? This was the most luxurious of the meads that we tasted. It was the 2006 Grand Reserve Ambrosia, aged in French oak barrels for 2 years. It had a very rich and complex nose and was nice and full bodied. The sweetness lingered but wasn’t overwhelming. I paired this one with some blue cheese dipped in honey and swooned! Another swoon-worthy food pairing suggested for this mead: Duck liver pate.
At the end of the tasting, Krystina had a bottle of the Mead Royale to give away to the person who could answer this question: Which of Rosewood Estates’ meads are aged in oak barrels? Guess who got the answer right! It pays to be a blogger who takes notes.