Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hampshire *

Props to Gould Hill, where Hampshire was born (map). This modern apple originated the old-fashioned way--as a foundling, not as the product of a breeding experiment.

Handsome Hampshire has a wine-dark blush freckled with light lenticels of varying size. It is medium sized and well formed, slightly conical and slightly ribbed. Its calyx is open.

My apple is at least a few weeks off the tree (at tasting, not posting!), but remains very crisp and juicy. The flesh is a creamy white and just shy of fine-grained.

The flavor is rich and sweet, with nice balancing tartness and acidity. Volante, who sold me this apple, describes Hampshire as "similar to McIntosh," and though that is not really accurate I can see the resemblance in its wine-like depth and hints of flowers and spice.

In some ways maybe Macoun is a better analogy, though Hampshire does not reach the complex intensity of either Macoun or McIntosh. There's some nice lingering astringency after the finish.

Hampshire is an outstanding late-season choice, and a good keeper to boot. It oxidizes slowly.

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