The San Rosé apple is the latest new variety to join the midwinter pack that includes Ambrosia, Piñata, Pacific Rose, and Lady Alice.
Growers have been rolling out new varieties for limited availability this time of year, so I should not have been surprised to find something new in February. However, the pleasure was truly unexpected.
The shape of this large apple varies considerably, but it is ribbed, at least somewhat conical, and often asymmetrical, at least in this crop.
The above photo of San Rosé is not stretched or squeezed: the apple really looks like this. Many, but not all, of the apples in the bin were strikingly elongated. I chose this one because I wanted to photograph it.
My second photo shows how San Rosé's profile can differ.
San Rosé's streaky red blush (over yellow) can run to a deep red in places. Large light lenticels highlight the blush, and I find russet in and around the stem well.
The fruit is firm and has a sweet aroma of cider and spice.
Its flesh is coarse, very juicy, yellow, and reasonably crisp. Flavors--have I grown rusty?--are hard to parse. The apple is on the sweet side of well balanced and is generally vinous. A hint of orange and an elusive flash of vanilla caramel add some depth but mostly there are simple sweet cidery flavors.
As it turn out, the long skinny apple was not as good as its rounder brother. It was more tender to the tooth and its flavors less rich. I found myself comparing it--favorably--with Red Delicious, though Empire might be equally close to the mark.
The flesh of the rounder fruit was firmer and the flavors more saturated, altogether more satisfying. Despite similarities, it might almost have been a different variety. I can't say based on these two samples that the shape of the fruit is in any way a marker for its quality, though it might be.
Try one and you'll either get light freshness or something a little richer. In any case, a new variety in February is a treat, and this one should be immediately accessible to modern tastes.
The chosen name of this apple is unfortunate. (Saint Pink? In what pretend Romance language?) The accent had already fallen off the final "e" at my local market, where this variety was sold as "San Rose." I picture a trail of diacritical marks on the interstate highway between here and the orchards of eastern Washington State.
There is very little information about this variety online, other than that it was developed in Switzerland. I'm guessing under another name.