We love wine, obviously.
And we love making wine. But we also understand that sometimes, you want to try something different. Even our winemaker, Matthew Meyer, likes experimenting with new techniques, flavors and partnerships . That’s why we created a rare fermented beverage known as pyment.
Pyment (pronounced PIE-ment) was a new word to us, but mead (pyment is a form of mead) is just as ancient as wine. People have been drinking mead for over 3,000 years, fermenting honey with yeast and water. Add some unfermented grape juice to the honey and you have pyment. That’s what Matthew recently created with Glenn Lavender of Silver Hand Meadery, near Colonial Williamsburg.
“Making mead or pyment is more like making cider or wine than beer,” Matthew says. The fermentation process is similar, as are the alcohol levels - around 12% on average. Meads can be ready to drink in as few as five weeks, but some age as long as two years. Like many wines, meads often improve from being put down for a year or more after you bring them home.
“I’m not sure if pyment has a link to Colonial Williamsburg,” Glenn says. “But mead is one of the most ancient fermented drinks.”
The pyment started with Matthew’s contribution of juice from our Wessex Hundred estate-grown Traminette grapes - a late summer white varietal with strains of Gewurztraminer in its heritage. We use it in our Midsummer Night’s White as well as in a new, limited production Wessex Hundred Traminette that we released just a few weeks ago on the summer solstice. The Traminette’s fruity flavor profile inspired Glenn to add a blend of three different honeys to the mix.
For their meads, Silver Hand Meadery works with honey in much the same way that a winery works with grapes. Honeybees produce ‘varietals’ according to what flowers they feed on, and Silver Hand has used many different flavors to create different meads. When Glenn and Matthew tasted the Traminette juice, they were inspired to add orange blossom, alfalfa and local wildflower honeys.
“These flavors highlight the fruity character of the Traminette,” Glenn says. “When you taste this pyment, you get butterscotch in the aftertaste and a little floral character from the wildflowers.”
Glenn and Matthew blended together the honey, grape juice and yeast, then added water to bring it to the right sugar level for fermentation. Silver Hand’s meads are lower on the “sweet” spectrum than many other meads, and neither Glenn nor Matthew wanted an overly sweet pyment.
“Any time you are fermenting, the winemaker has control over the level of sweetness and alcohol,” Glenn explains. “Adding honey to grape juice brought the sugar level up quite a bit, so we added water to get it where we wanted.”
Compared to Silver Hand’s other meads, this one is fruitier. It also has a bright acidity from the grape juice, bringing it even closer to a wine-type beverage. “It should pair really well with a sharp cheese,” Matthew says.
The first edition of the collaboration pyment is named "Two is Better Than One” and was bottled in 375ml “half-sized” bottles. It will be available at both our wine shop and Silver Hand Meadery beginning Friday, July 13th. The name is inspired by the collaborative effort of this project and the mutual respect and knowledge both beverage makers gained for and from each other because of this partnership.
"We worked together on every aspect of this project, even harvesting the grapes together last September. We're extremely excited for all of you to finally enjoy this delicious beverage we've been working on for almost a year!"
“The thought right now is that we’ll try a new one every year,” Glenn says. “The variation potential is pretty huge, with all the different grape and honey varietals out there. We could make a thousand different pyments and none would be the same.”
This historic old drink is new again, and we think pyment combines the flavorful creativity of craft beer with the elegance of wine. Try a glass of deliciously unique pyment this summer and add another ancient beverage to your wine list.