Etymological questions aside, I have two of these, both on the small side of large, round, slightly oblate, with the merest hint of ribbing.
Both have significant russeting on the unblushed peel, which is a muted green-yellow.
The pair blush differently, however. The main photo shows a cheerful red tinged with orange and mottled with russet; russeted lenticels are large. The other's blush is darker and more saturated, and some of the russet on the blush, in the lenticels and elsewhere, is black.
Both are quite firm and smell sweetly of grass and yeast, tokens of the surface flora. Okay, bite.
Wow. What a wonderfully complex apple. Reine de Reinettes has medium-grained white flesh and a tender crunch. Its flavors are rich and intricate against a balanced backdrop enlivened by considerable tart.
There are lush orange and bergamot (my wife says lemon) notes. Something a bit more tropical--Mango? Melon?--is overwhelmed by the citric trend. Perhaps it is the distinct plum flavor I find in the second sample, along with some lemon. There is some very faint vanilla in the finish.
All of these flavors linger on the palate long after the last bite is done. A wonderfully satisfying apple, high flavored after the manner of Ribston and Cox.
This queen is a classic French variety but seems to have originated in Holland. Here is a charming story (and recipe) about this apple. (And look, it is "des Reinettes," seemingly, in French.)
Digression alert: "Reine" of course is French for "Queen," but "reinette" is not "little queen" or "princess" and this fruit is not their sovereign. Some think that reinette means small frog.
In that sense "King of the Pippins," as this variety is known in Great Britain, is a reasonable Anglicization (given the sex change; what does that say about the cultural differences between England and France?). One old source, however, gives exactly the opposite meaning.
Beech, in Apples of New York, details the frog theory and also quotes an even older pomologist to the effect that Reinette is a particular French appelation for apples with certain fine qualities, for instance "fine-grained, delicate, crisp, firm flesh."
The "reinette"-named apples I've tried have had many of these great qualities. Little queens, or froglets, all.