Apple Harvest. These two words mean more work and more joy than almost any others cider folk. This year's crop is arriving week by week, apple by apple. I'm thinking back to my trip to Vermont/New Hampshire/New York last year. Seeing those gorgeous trees heavy with fruit inspired and tantalized. Luckily, I have some bottles of cider from that trip to help me relish the memories.
Today's review is my first of a cider by Champlain Orchards out of Shoreham, Vermont. This cidery is truly a fruit farm that happens to make really great cider, among other things, on stunning land. All of the stages, growing, milling, pressing, fermenting and bottling happen right there. They grow many fruits and more than 100 varieties of apples. It is quite the place to see.
I visited Champlain Orchards on the 2nd day of my Vermont trip last year, you can read about it here: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html
But, if you aren't in the neighborhood, go to the website to learn about the orchard and the ciders and to see more: http://www.champlainorchardscidery.com/ (including beautiful videos of apples).
When visiting, I picked up a few bottles to take home. The Heirloom will by first full review of anything by Champlain Orchards.
Here's how Champlain Orchards Cidery describes it:
HEIRLOOMHat tip to Champlain for both describing the perception of sweetness and giving the cider's residual sugar in their information about it.
Heirloom Vermont hard cider is pressed, fermented, and crafted from old and new world Cider varieties. Semi-dry with balanced flavors from sweet, sharp & bittersweet cider apples. Enjoy as you would any sparkling wine, on its own or with lighter fare. Alcohol by vol: 5.8%, Residual sugar: 0.5%
Appearance: Brilliant, straw, fine bubbles
There's no question that the Heirloom is brilliant. I'll call the color straw, but it could also be described as an appealing custard yellow.
Aromas: tart, fruity esters, bready
The Heirloom smells bready and tart. I get more ester aromas than unfermented fruit notes. This is all whetting my appetite mightily!
The sweetness of this cider is minimal; its even on the dry side of semi-dry.
Flavors and drinking experience: balanced, medium tannins, grassy, high acid
This cider delights me with how stony and grassy it is. The body is light and vivacious with just the right level of sparkle. The Heirloom is strikingly satisfying—unassuming but delicious.
The Heirloom wows me because its so very balanced. The acidity is bright and high without ever being sharp or pointed. This is fruity sort of acid, balanced with medium tannins. I can taste green grape flavors in addition to the grassy notes.
The esters from the smell remain as pleasant and clean flavors. There's no mistaking this fermented cider for juice or a punch. I adore these good yeast characteristics and malic acid. Everything plays together so nicely.
I had mine with a goat cheese and beet salad, but this flexible cider could be served with a variety of foods and activities. Its a cider made for relaxing and enjoying.