Calville is a large medium (or small large) apple with pronounced, even exaggerated, ribbing. It is yellow tinged with green and there is a partial blush over perhaps a quarter of the peel. Large green lenticels are prominent though not in the blush. In hand the unbroken fruit feels firm and solid and smells of pear and bananas.
Inside Calville Blanc is a light yellow with a tender crunch, fine-grained and dense. Its flavor balance tilts slightly to the tart but there is sweetness too, to frame pear flavors with a hint of banana in the finish. There are also some unusual salty, mineral notes.
For a cooking apple this is not bad, but Calville does not shine for eating, though he rewards the attentive taster with some unusual flavors. It may take an oven to unlock these tastes fully.
If it's wasteful to eat rather than cook one of these, I have erred twice, for I had another sample and ate it too. Since No. 2 was from a different orchard in a different state I thought it would give me especially good "coverage" to taste both.
Just doing my job. But next year if I'm fortunate enough to get a few of these perhaps I will assay a tarte aux pommes.
The second sample was crisper and generally better textured. I could imagine it surviving the oven quite well.
It was also more tart, astringent, and acid, its flavors more tightly wound. The banana was a little more prominent and there was a faint hint of lemon chiffon.
As you can see Calville No. 2 had the extreme lobed ribbing that this variety sometimes exhibits. It comes from a very-minimal-spray orchard and has many of the usual blemishes--a right gnarly specimen all around, beautiful in its way.
|Public-domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
Callville Blanc d'Hiver originated in the early 16th century, some say in Normandy. By the time Monet executed his still life the apple had certainly spread to every corner of France. Today it remains the correct apple for the traditional tart.
So is there a white Calville of summer? Yes, as it turns out, and a rouge d'hiver too.