Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Cider Review: Snowdrift Cider Co.'s Cornice

Whew! I don’t know about you, but much of the United States just made it through the #bombcyclone (Bombogenesis) and Winter Storm Grayson. It was snowy, windy, and seriously cold. Mostly, this was terrible. But this kind of weather really is perfect for curling up at home in a cozy fashion. And nothing goes better with cozying up than a glass of cider. And this time, it may have been the only way I survived cabin fever. Today, I'm sharing my thoughts on one of the ciders that helped us in the cold.

I've not reviewed anything by Snowdrift Cider Co. before because I simply never see it for sale. I've been curious about them for ages. I finally picked up a bottle when traveling to San Francisco. They are based in Central Washington State on the Columbia River where they grow apples, make cider, and keep a tasting room open on weekends. Their orchard dates back to the 1960s and includes eating apples, heritage apple varieties, crabs, and apples best used for cider. The cidery dates from 2008.

I love this excerpt of how they introduce themselves and their cidermaking:
All of our ciders start with tree ripe fruit that we carefully crush and ferment. Often unsightly and a challenge to eat fresh, the French, English and old American cider apple varieties we grow to make our ciders carry intense aromatic flavors that shine through fermentation and aging. As the cider ages through the cold snowy winter, the bitter tannins that made the fruit so edgy while fresh give way to soft, complex and surprising flavors that linger and evolve on the palate. Our ciders are best served at a cool room temperature.

You can learn more on the company's website: http://www.snowdriftcider.com/

Today's cider is the Barrel-Aged Cornice. Here's the official description:
In our region, winter winds whip layers of snow into majestic formations called cornices. They hang in a gravity-defying balance, ready to cascade at any moment into a rushing avalanche. We wanted to craft a cider to carry these traits… So we aged cider in oak barrels, knitting tannins and aromas into an avalanche of flavors. Notes of bourbon vanilla, fall fruit and toffee coalesce in this off-dry cider.This cider's smooth complexity and luscious vanilla-toffee notes pair well with grilled meets, pulled pork, bacon-wrapped dates, as well as rich desserts. Alcohol 7.5% by volume.

Appearance: brilliant, deep copper, few bubbles

I don't see a lot of visible bubbles, here but I see some and an intense color. I love that deep copper hue. It's totally brillliant, as my bookshelf picture demonstrates clearly. 

Aromas: ripe apples, paper, dust

The Cornice smells bracing and bitter, though the apple presence in the aroma is undeniable. Something about the smell strikes me as brittle; I think perhaps its the barrel that gives the cider a wooden note. I could even call it paper or pencil shavings. Other notes make me think of a stone cracking. And yet amidst these hard things, I can still smell soft apples, wispy smoke, and vanilla.

Sweetness/dryness: Off dry

This cider is very nearly dry, and perhaps you could call it dry. I think its fruitiness makes me perceive it as off dry in a very natural and reserved way.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, plummy, warm, golden
Oh, this is a rich one! The Cornice offers up high acid zing but so much more. Some of the flavors remind me of rich golden dried fruits like sultanas or apricots. Some of the richness comes from beautiful fruit esters that make the cider feel so plummy.

Yes, I'd call it off-dry but with a lingering warmth because of the barrel qualities I'd be curious to know the actual levels of residual sugars, but not much.

Other flavors include baking spices, caramel, buttered toast crumbs. As for the mouthfeel, there are tannins and gentle bubbles. The high ABV makes it feel fuller still in the mouth. This is a decidedly decadent cider with fullsome fruitiness and powerful booziness. It just sweeps in from all sides, offering a pleasant degree of complexity, but not overpoweringly so. I found it extremely pleasing with a hearty vegetable stew and warm cats. I didn't eat the cats. They just sat on me.