Tall, gnarled fruit trees, some of them over a hundred years old, shape the idyllic landscape along the steep slopes of the Swabian Alps. As do the church spires of the villages and small towns that are dotted across this rural, agricultural area, just 25 miles to the west of Stuttgart in Germany. One of them is Schlat, the home of Manufaktur Jörg Geiger.
Climate and soil are perfect for growing fruit in this area, but most of the slopes are too steep for modern orchards with dwarf varieties that can be machine harvested. Much of the land can only be used to graze sheep and sometimes cattle which enjoy resting in the shade of the tall, old heritage fruit trees –hence the name MeadowFruit. Jörg Geiger treasures is the wealth of flavors inherent to these heritage fruit varieties, and the herbs, flowers and shrubs that grow in the meadows, the biodiversity from birds to butterflies. With so many cider and perry fruit varieties using the glut to produce juice seemed obvious.
The trained chef understood that while heritage fruit juice produces a lot of flavor on the tongue, it can be too sweet and often lacks what sommeliers call ‘the nose’ and ‘the finish’. So he started to combine single variety heritage pear and apple juice, some of them harvested unripe to lower the sugar content, while keeping the intensity of the flavors. To compliment, enhance, refine or deepen these flavors he started to add extracts from fresh herbs, flowers, leaves, grains or even wood. Stored in huge steel tanks the mixture is then slowly carbonized over a two day period to achieve the tiny bubbles that rise to the surface of a glass like a string of pearls. The result is a nonalcoholic sparkling ‘wine’ (based on apple and/or pear juice) that matches any alcoholic version (based on grape juice) in fragrance, subtlety of flavors, bouquet and finish.
For TeaSecco® he has taken this concept a step further by putting organic green tea from the Iyerpadi Estate in southern Indian Anamalai Mountains in the centre. With MeadowFruit, herbs and spices he has created a unique, sparkling, nonalcoholic drink. Served cold it will be as refreshing, elegant and serene as the beauty of a summer sunset in the mountains.