Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cider Review: South Hill Cider's Prelude Cider #3

Perhaps you don’t care for the holidays, or current events have gotten you down, way down. I hear ya; I’m feeling it. But I refuse to let my blues keep the cider reviews from their weekly date with the internet. Thanks, Readers. You keep me going. The cider world gives me so much to be thankful for. Many special thanks to the Cider Guild of Pennsylvania and the PA Farm Expo for giving me a chance to judge cider last week. It was a great time. I'll share more about it once we're closer to the Farm Show.

Recently two good friends of mine shared one of their Cider Club bottles from South Hill Cider with me. That’s how I got to taste a cider so specialized that all of its apples come from one tree.

Here’s how South Hill Cider describes themselves and their cidermaker, “Fine and well-crafted hard cider from the Fingerlakes. Made in small batches, with attention to detail. Steve Selin: apple-hunter, cidermaker, orchardist.”

I've previously reviewed a few ciders from South Hill Cider:

Most recently, they appear in my Finger Lakes Cider pairing dinner: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html

My top cider of 2016, the Stone Fence Farm: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-stone.html

I also really enjoyed the 2014 Packbasket: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/04/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-2014.html

And my first review for them was the hyper-limited Hypothesis: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html

The back label describes the Prelude series; here’s the official description from the website.
#3- (2015) Sparkling and dry. This rare cider is produced from one single mysterious tree whose origin and variety are unknown. It is located in West Danby, NY and Steve has been making single tree cider from it since 2013. It is now being propagated for South Hill’s orchard and in a decade we can look forward to more than the 4 cases per year average that this one tree produces. The prelude label was glued over the original label which was printed as a private label - we never expected to be able to share this cider as widely as the cider club allowed. Thank you, cider club member for giving us the opportunity!

Apologies for not getting more pictures.

Appearance: transparent, warm straw, not many visible bubbles

This cider looks very true to the appearance of most South Hill Ciders. It isn't brilliant, but it is transparent. I don't see much in the way of bubbles but it does have a warm creamy straw color.

Aromas: floral, citrus honey

This is where this cider starts becoming magical. It smells so floral with intense honey notes. There are summer flowers like jasmine and honeysuckle all over this. Other aroms include orange, but concentrated like Seville oranges or tangerines. 

Sweetness/dryness: dry

This doesn't have a dry first edge, but the cider seems to become dry in the mouth very quickly.

Flavors and drinking experience: tannic, bubbly, soft yet structured

Mmmm, what a delight. The Prelude #3 offers up a strong tannic note, but overall it is still round and soft. The tannins are beautifully balanced with bright golden acidity. For flavors, I taste vanilla, citrus, ripe apples, and just a bit of soft leather. All the citrus one smells is here in the taste too. Wow. 

The texture offers up a plenitude of small bubbles. The Prelude's mouthfeel is a little astringent with a nice mouthcoat that is rich but not syrupy. Overall, this is just a fantastic cider. I know I'm biased toward ciders that are both tannic and strongly bubbly, so this is playing to just about my favorite flavor profile, but the fermentation is clean without being sterile, the cider is balanced yet interesting. I loved it.