I had read about Melrouge, a sport of Melrose, but I didn't expect to find any around here. Yet this week they were a few bins down from Melrose at farmers market.
This medium-large apple sports a partial crimson blush over yellow-green. Its large lenticels are light tan (greenish where the blush doesn't reach). It is moderately ribbed and firm in the hand.
My sample apple has a very deep stem well and what may be two kinds of russet--brown stripes in one area and little black stipples in another. The apple also has very dark red dimples in the blush, about 5 mm across. All in all, character rather than beauty.
The flesh is a creamy yellow and is reasonably crisp and juicy. The flavor is sweet somewhat tempered by a very little acidity. The little sign over the bin promised a pear-like flavor, but you really have to hunt for that. Heck, there might be a little melon in there someplace too. The apple flavor is pleasing and mellow, if uncomplicated.
So, how does it compare to Melrose? It's certainly not as pretty. Melrose has more crunch and juice. Still, I like Melrouge better--it's a little less sweet and more balanced.
Possibly, however, the differences can be accounted for by timing, if the Melrouge had been in storage for, say, a week and the Melrose I tasted was fresh picked.
Update: Those unsightly dark dimples are neither characteristic of the breed nor a disease. They are the marks of hail.
Update 2: Another photo of Melrouge.