Friday, November 15, 2013

Cider Review: Wandering Aengus Dry Oaked

It has been far too long since I've reviewed anything by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks out of Washington State. The last time I reviewed one of their cider, I took a look at the Bloom cider. You can check out my review here:  Their website appears to be undergoing a certain degree of transition right now, but you can still read about their ciders.

Tonight I'm reviewing their Dry Oaked Cider. I can provide the official stats and description as offered by Wandering Aengus:

Orchards: Hood River, OR & Lebanon, NH
Dry and spicy
“mild clove bite”
Pairings: Salami or Stinky Cheese
ABV 6.8% (2009) 8.4% (2011)
Available in 16.9oz and draft
1/2 & 1/6 barrel kegs – Limited Run Vintage 2011

It's very neat that they share where they sourced the apples, in this case from Hood River, Oregon and Lebanon, New Hampshire. I wish the description gave a bit more in the way of apple varieties or tasting notes, but this is still a nice amount of information. Let's see how this goes.

Appearance: Brilliant, Gamboge, almost no bubbles

Looking at the Dry Oaked cider, I had to find some webpages that list different shades of orange. This thrills me because I have so often referred to shades of yellow, but this is the first time I've gotten to refer to shades of orange. After delightfully thorough consideration, I'd say the color is Gamboge. That word was a new one to me; it refers to the deep orange/yellow pigment used to dye Buddhist monks' robes. What a wonderful excuse to learn new things.The cider is brilliant and pours with Belgian lace

Aromas: wood, fresh apples, light pear and honey notes playing in the background

What a delightful smell! At first the wood just dominates but after a moment and a few repeated sniffs, I could detect the apples, pears, and honey.

Drinking Experience and Flavors: Dry, tannic, acidic, woody

This dry cider tastes so cleanly farmy, which sounds odd because often farminess and gamey flavors go together with funk. But this remarkably different. The Dry Oaked cider gets it farm notes from the combination of acidity and tannins. So much wood! This enchants me because of how well the balance works. The cider gets its liveliness from the acidity, depth from tannins, and restraint from the dryness. Gosh, I'm impressed. I love love the woodiness. It tastes like almost sucking on a barn beam in a way.

Though the cider has some natural sparkle, it isn't at all distracting or overpowering. The finish lingers smoothly. Overall, this is a remarkably drinkable cider for one with real complexity, dryness, and body.

I recommend cooking with this and drinking it at the same time. My husband used it with some good butter to saute mushrooms. This brings out the farminess and earthiness beautifully. We then used those mushrooms on top of pasta with basil pesto and sun-dried tomatoes (from my father's garden). Yeah. It worked out amazingly well for something fairly improvised.

 If you don't want to cook your own meal while drinking this cider, I don't blame you. Wandering Aengus' Dry Oaked cider serves up enough complexity to deserve its own focus. Perhaps then drink it while someone else is cooking something earthy, rich, and marvelous. Cooking is an excellent spectator sport afterall and this cider can keep anyone entertained.