Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cider Review: Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse's Pippins

I don't actually get to taste very many ciders from Canada even though the border isn't that far away. I always get excited about anything new and out of the ordinary, so picking up this bottle of Sea Cider when traveling to San Francisco was an easy choice. I've heard about Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse for years, but this is the first time they've been reviewed here. 

For a bit about the cidery, Sea Cider joined the Canadian cider scene in 2007. Sea Cider is a farm and cidery on Vancouver Island, in Western Canada, growing more than 50 varieties of organically-grown heritage apples. They have a tasting room open to share cider and tours year round. I've heard great things, and many of their ciders are covered in medals from GLINTCAP and other cider competitions.

I love that Sea Cider has an explicitly stated mission, “Sociability, sustainability, and community involvement have been the three pillars of Sea Cider’s business philosophy and mission.” And what a lovely one at that.

Here's a link to the website where you can read more about them: http://seacider.ca                         
The official description of Pippins reads, 

Pippins is a “sharp” style cider, thanks to the Yellow Newton Pippin apples we use and cool fermentation from champagne yeast. Off-dry and chapitalized to 9.5%, it is an example of a New England style of cider that was meant to be as strong and robust as North America’s pioneers. Pippins features pineapple and confectionery notes, and is incredibly food friendly. It fits just about every occasion and its crisp bite will pair perfectly with everything from steak and salad to spicy curries. 9.5% ABV.
Let me just draw attention to that higher than usual ABV and suggest pouring this one is a more wine-like serving size.  

Appearance: radiant, bright, jewelers brass

This cider shines. I forget sometimes the difference between a transparent cider and a truly brilliant one until I see something like this. The radiance is enticing. I could see many bubbles in the clarity.

Aromas: overripe apples, vinous, vanilla, spices

This smells dusty, vinous, and apply. Aromas include caramel, baking spices, and vanilla. The overall impression is boozy, barreled, powered overripe apples. Based on the aromas, I anticipate that this cider will be very tart indeed and on the drier side of off-dry.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi dry

I was misled by the tartness in the aroma! This is a semi-dry cider but not as dry as I expected at all. The sweetness is very natural: all apples. There's more going on though than either the sweetness or dryness of this cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: complex, rich, fruity, tart

I found Pippins complex and sweeter than the smell had prepared me for. Though the description doesn't include it, something about both the aromas and the flavors struck me as barrel related. That could be the higher than usual ABV, but more likely the richness, vanilla, and maple notes that accompany the fruit. Pippins offers up high acid, as described but that was less striking to me than the balanced maple finish. 

So much about this cider was warm, pleasant, rich, and more than simple. It reminded me of some white wines in its weight and fermented fruit esters. The mouthfeel was full and satisfying. The texture was crisply bubbly. I so enjoyed drinking it.

I had this cider with fantastic homemade black-bean burritos. Perhaps not the most predictable combination for a Canadian cider, but the sweetness of corn and beans was absolutely delightful with the richness of the cider. I'd absolutely recommend this pairing to anyone.