Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Very Perry May with Vandermill's Ice Ice Perry, Black Diamond's Somerset Jersey & GLINTCAP Best in Class

I write on a nearly quiet evening after a full and busy few days in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’ve been here to judge at GLINTCAP, take my CCP Level 2 exam, and I ended up volunteering with for the Great Lakes International Cider Festival as a fun bonus. It’s been a whirlwind of training, judging,and  getting to see cider friends from all over the country. But I knew it would be a chance for me to find new treats to continue Very Perry May.

That’s how I was able to sample Vandermill’s Ice Ice Perry at the Great Lakes International Cider Festival.

Vandermill is key to GLINTCAP and the Michigan Cider Alliance. The company started as a cider mill just over 10 years ago in Grand Rapids in 2006. Now, Vandermill Cider sells cider in seven states and operates two taprooms open to the public: Grand Rapids and Spring Lake. And that’s not even scratching the surface of all that this cider has going on!

Visit the website to learn more here: http://vandermill.com/.

I’ve reviewed one Vandermill Cider before, the Totally Roasted: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-vander-mills-totally.html

The company also features in my CiderCon coverage from 2017: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/02/cider-con-2017-part-1-industry-growing.html

I wasn’t able to find an official description of the Ice Ice Perry online, but I found some notes and I got some info when the perry was poured today. The Ice Ice Perry uses Bartlett pears and gets blended with 9% heritage apple ice cider. At some point some or all of the perry or cider spends time in barrels. 6.33% ABV.

Appearance: butterscotch, hazy, bubbly

The cider’s color reminds me of butterscotch. It’s hazy and when poured from draft, visibly bubbly.

Aromas: acidity, citrus, vanilla, cooked apples

This is a complex set of smells! This perry smells like citrus, vanilla, and cooked apples. But that’s not all that’s going on. I also detect a hint of wild tart tanginess. I can definitely tell that this spent some time in a barrel!

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry

This comes out feeling semi-dry, but based on other characteristics, I wonder if it doesn’t have more residual sugar than it tastes like.
Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, low tannins, lots of barrel

While the methods used to reach this effect were anything but traditional, this perry actually reminds me of a few of the English perries I’ve enjoyed over the years. It’s soft, a little sweet, fairly tart, a little tannic, and quite funky.

The barrel aging I could detect in the aromas remains present in the flavors in that it tastes like vanilla and oak. It also has such pleasant soft rounded fruit character at the same time as it’s bright and zesty acidity. There’s a lot going on here!

Black Diamond's Somerset Jersey

You’ll have to read through to the end to see exactly why I’m sharing my notes on the Somerset Jersey by Black Diamond this week, but I’m always happy to review any cider by Black Diamond. This rural orchard-based cidery has been part of my cider landscape since it officially opened in 2014, not long after I moved to the Finger Lakes regions. The cidery and orchard are run by Ian and Jackie Merwin, two long-time contributors to the cider world. For more background information on the cidery, check out some of my earlier reviews of Black Diamond Ciders.

You can also learn more by visiting Black Diamond Cider online: https://www.blackdiamondcider.com

Earlier this spring (when it still felt like winter) I enjoyed the Geneva Tremlett’s: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/03/cider-review-black-diamonds-geneva.html

I reviewed the Slatestone last year:

I have reviewed a few Black Diamond ciders previously. 

The Solstice cider was my second favorite cider in 2017. It’s still one of the most delightful still ciders I’ve ever encountered:

The Hickster was my third favorite cider in 2016:

Black Diamond’s award-winning Porter’s Pommeau made an appearance at the 2017 Locavore pairing dinner in 2017:

My first Black Diamond review is the Rabblerouser: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-black-diamonds.html

Somerset Jersey’s label description is pleasingly complete.

Black Diamond Farm is a family-owned cidery in Seneca County, New York-the heart of the Iroquois People’s ‘Land Between the Lakes.’ Our Ciders are handcrafted from home-grown fruit, using traditional methods that express the fertile soils and unique climate of our lakes region. Somerset Jersey cider is a small-batch varietal blend of heritage apples, dominated by the English bittersweet called Harry Master’s Jersey, a scion of the ‘Somerset Jersey’ clan of apples that originated in southwest England during the late 1800s. This cider is semi-dry, with notes of vanilla and passionfruit, light acidity, and soft tannins that create its long astringent finish. Best when served slightly chilled. ABV 7.7%.

Appearance: hazy, bubbly, apricot

Somerset Jersey looks like the glowing color of dried apricots. The cider is hazy and bubbly. 

Aromas: ripe apples, vanilla buttercream, tropical fruit

This is what keeps me coming back to Black Diamond ciders so eagerly. These folks know how to bring out strong and pleasing aromas in a cider! This one smells like ripe tart apples and vanilla buttercream. I also get plenty of tropical fruit notes. It makes my mouth water. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry-to-semi-sweet

This feels just a hint dryer than a semi-sweet and almost too sweet to be a semi-dry. It’s a delicate spot with only very natural fruit sweetness coming through. 

Flavors and drinking experience: Citrus, minerality, tropical fruit, and astringence

This is so lovely! The Somerset Jersey tastes astringent and fruity at the same time. It has lots of minerality and citrus, plus a showering of tropical fruit. I often enjoy ciders that are high acid and high tannin; this fits that profile exceptionally well.

I love the Somerset Jersey’s rich mouthfeel and strong bubbles. Everything going on from first sip to lingering finish works together and works beautifully. I love it, and I’m not the only one. Keep reading to see who else does...

And, saving some excitement for the end of this week’s post, I want to share a link to GLINTCAP’s Best in Glass results!