Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cider Review: Cornish Orchards Vintage 2013 plus leading up to GLINTCAP

I found a bottle of Cornish Orchards cider in a surprising little bottle shop in Lizard. They had an extensive and varied selection, but this bottle stood out. The cider comes from Duloe in Cornwall. I am still pulling these little vacation treasures out of my cellar every few weeks, both as a way to deepen my understanding of English ciders and remember my trip to Cornwall and Devon.

Find out all about Cornish Orchards online at: http://www.cornishorchards.co.uk/

This website is fabulously clear and direct. I love that it mentions specifically that the ciders are vegan and that all of the farm's products remain free of artificial sweetening, coloring, or flavoring. Hopefully, that's true of most ciders, but I like knowing for certain.

You can read this page to find the story of Cornish Orchards:  http://www.cornishorchards.co.uk/about-us

Here's how Cornish Orchards introduces itself.

Our business is all about respect and balance. We create our award winning, premium ciders and juices, using traditional craft practices, produced to modern, exacting standards. 
Each autumn, the apples arrive, full of flavours, sweetness and juice. It's our job to ensure all this goodness is captured, fermented and blended into our delicious range of ciders and juices. 
Our master blenders demonstrate their skills by creating products that are not only refreshing, but bursting with outstanding flavours and fruity aromas.
Though many of the ciders I read about on the website intrigue me, the one bottle I allowed myself to carry from Cornwall to Ithaca was their Vintage 2013. Here's how the back label describes this particular cider:
A connoisseur's cider, medium dry and lightly sparkling. Created from apples selected for their soft tannins and traditional flavour. This classic cider is matured over the winter months, to bestow vintage qualities. 
Serve cool to enjoy the full flavours. Ideal partnered with a roast or a hearty platter of cheese.

Appearance: brilliant, few visible bubbles, chamomile

I'm still absolutely loving my Cider Tasting Mug from 33 books and how this mug shows off ciders so beautifully (http://www.33books.com/products/the-original-cider-tasting-mug
). The color looks chamomile with just a few visible bubbles and great clarity. 

Aromas: overripe apple, vanilla, leather, brine

Oooooooh, the Vintage 2013 smells of deep deliciously mushy apples, just a little olive brine, lots of vanilla. I'm guessing the cider will be high levels of acid and high levels of tannin, based on the smell. It seems distinctly autumnal, and reminds me stone, salty leather, lots of smells—poured into my tasting mug, the aromas fill the room!

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

Though the bottle calls it a medium dry, to my palate this cider tastes semi-sweet. The flavors come from so much more than the sweetness, but it certainly adds to the mouthfeel and flavors with a mature rich sort of sweetness. I think many American cider drinkers would really go for this.

Flavors and drinking experience: botanical, savory, fruity, great mouthfeel

These tastes are out of this world! As I said before though this cider is ultimately a semi sweet, its flavors go wildly beyond that. I find the cider deeply pleasing, but with genuine complexity. I get good notes of olive brine, bitter greens like cooked herbs, indeed quite high acid and high tannins. The mid-palate is very botanical (some root-y flavors like in cream soda or homemade root beer) with some savory notes. 

I taste bitter orange essence, rosemary, and hay. It feels almost a bit salty and yeasty like focaccia bread, except also a semi-sweet cider. I love this! The cider offers up great bubbles that deliver all of that intense flavor. All of the wild notes in it lean (if just barely) toward a dainty sense of restraint that keep the whole experience in balance. Its a wild ride and an enjoyable one! I had mine with a veggie chowder on a cold night, but you could have this cider with anything simple and hearty. 

And on a more personal note, the countdown to GLINTCAP has begun! The Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition will be running in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the 11th time. I'm thrilled to be returning as a judge for the third year. 

Its not only the largest cider and perry competition on this continent, but its also a wonderful educational opportunity for folks who want to volunteer as stewards and judges. We learn about cider styles, mouthfeel and flavor characteristics, fermentation flaws, and how to put our sensory impressions into words. I cannot overstate the value of this competition to me as a cider writer. Plus, its a friendly crew who always has a grand time together. I've made some of my best cider friends through GLINTCAP.

If you'll be there, please say hi!

Feel free to find out more about the competition here: http://glintcap.org/