On the first evening of my second visit to Estonia, having just been bombarded with twenty-something glasses of local wine of varying yumminess, a bottle of unexpected content appeared on the table in front of me. Being from a Nordic country myself, I am very familiar with rowanberry in various forms like jams and jellies or even capers, but I had never before tasted an alcoholic beverage made entirely from rowanberry. Made in the style of wine but with a hint of sugar or honey added to get the fermentation started. The taste was very unique, with a large dose of funkiness. Intriguing indeed.
Apparently making alcoholic beverages from all kinds of berries and fruits is a fairly common practice in the Baltics. Something that many people with gardens full of trees and bushes do to preserve the seasons bounty. And resent changes in legislation has made it possible to make a small scale business out of these traditions.
A few days later, having dinner at the lovely Villa Ammende in Pärnu, a fermented raspberry wine was paired with our dessert. Made by the family run company of Mamm&Frukt this was an extraordinary experience. So fresh. So clean. So clear in its raspberriness!
Mamm&Frukt is run by winemaker Tom and his daughter Helen and production takes place in a small 50m2 garage building next to Tom’s home in Pärnu. We were lucky enough to get a tasting, hosted by Helen, of the entire range of fruit and berry wines which include sparkling PetNat style rhubarb and high tannin meat-friendly aronia. Amazing stuff! Truly world class. Being a tiny company resourcefulness is key, so any leftovers or inadequate wines are transformed into grappa style spirit or vinegar.
I truly believe these expressions of fine-tuned tradition have a bright future. There is a real sense of resilience and true sustainability, passion and pride. And in the case of Mamm&Frukt, there is true craftsmanship, sensitivity and balance in the product – a reason to travel!