Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cider Review: E Z Orchards' WIlliamette Valley Cidre

I guess in some ways this post is my last little ode to summer. I had this just as the seasons were turning from spring to summer

Tonight, I'm sharing my first review of an EZ orchards cider. I can scarce believe my blog has made it this long without one! I hear consistently fantastic things about this cider and the people who make it.

E. Z. Orchards has been growing apples since the 1920s in Oregon. They are still a destination for fresh apples, shortcakes, seasonal produce, and delicious-sounding events. According to their website, they started producing apples specifically for cider in the year 2000. Now they are known for not only producing quality cider but also being a fantastic community resource in their region for growing quality cider fruit.

You can find out some more here:

Tonight's review is their 2011 Cidre Willamette Valley.

The official description reads:
E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre. The predominant characteristics are attributed to French varieties (85% of the blend) contributing tannin for structure, fermentable sugars, and aroma. We use one low acid English variety with similar dynamics. The balance of the fruit is tart to achieve the acidity necessary to complete the structure and provide stability.
The only fact this leaves out is the 6% ABV.  

Appearance:  Hazy, warm brass color. Few visible bubbles.

This cider looks very rustic. I'd call it hazy to cloudy, but I didn't follow the special pouring instructions to get a clearer glass of cider. It isn't a priority for me. The other thing to note is that I'm drinking a 2011 cider in 20016, so its no surprise really that its a gusher. Interestingly, though the cider seems to have plenty of bubbles, they aren't really visible.

Aromas: Berries, pears, phenolics, acetic acid

Primarily, I think the Willamette Valley Cidre smells like pear juice and berries, but the phenolics aren't too far behind. I can also detect a slight acetic acid edge.

Dryness/sweetness: off dry

There's a ton of flavor here and almost no sweetness

Flavors and drinking experience: funky, tannic, fruity, sharp

This cider is a complex journey that starts with high acidity then adds high tannins, and some decided funky flavors. Whoa. I like it, but I like lots of my ciders on the earthy, and this fits that bill.

Lets get specific about flavors though: I can taste pineapple, apple, melon, pear and all manner of light fruit. But that's not all I taste. Surprisngly some notes remind me of nachos or perhaps spicy peppers with a little creamy sweetness. 

Part of what makes the drinking expereince so complex is that the pepper-related flavors and the fruit-related flavors do not combine. Over all, I get an impression of high spicy notes and down low on the palate this feels like a medium bodied off dry cider. 

It hits more sweet and high and then rapidly spreads over tongue and gets spicy. I cannot get over the notes of jalapeƱo and orange peel. 

The finish and aftertaste stay with the acidity of and off dry cider mixed with sweet bell pepper flavor. I find the cider entirely likable, partly become the experience requires thought and focus. Though I've hung on to this bottle too long to consider this, my experience offered up moderate carbonation; the bubbles are part and parcel of the pleasant assault on the tastebuds. Its hard to imagine what it would be like without carbonation.

It tastes seemingly different with every sip. I found the Williamette Valley Cidre sensitive to other foods, so I'd recommend eating something gentle with it. Watermelon was especially good in my experience.