Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Cider Review: Mission Trail's Champagne Style Hard Cider and Kite and String's Green Man #1

Good morning, cider fans! This is the last post before the Winter Solstice! This means that very very soon, the days will stop getting shorter and soon start longer again. We may not be able to feel the difference at first, but we’ll be headed in my favorite direction before long. I will raise a glass in the coziness of winter for the eventual return of the sun!

I shared Mission Trail’s Champagne Style Hard Cider with the Tall One’s family when we got together for good meal recently.

Mission Trail is a small cidery out of Bradley, California (that’s Monterey County). I’ve only reviewed the Perry previously. The neat thing about this company is the range of fruit beverages they produce including port, cider, perry, and jerkum (an alcoholic beverage made from only stone fruit like plums). 


You can learn more about all of the beverages and the farm online:

Here’s the official description for the Dry Champagne Style Cider.

“A delicious dry, fruity sparkling cider, made exclusively from 29 apple heirloom varietals. A secondary fermentation create a great cider and champagne alternative. 9% ABV”

Elsewhere on the label, the cider making process is described as Charmat method. I’ll share a link because other folks can explain this elsewhere for those who which to geek out.

Appearance: brilliant, honey, bubbly

As one would expect, this cider is bubbly! It’s also brilliant with glorious shine. The color reminds me of mild clover honey.

Aromas: champagne, biscuits, minerals, and grapes

This cider smells absolutely like a champagne! Maybe it’s the higher ABV coming across, but the cider smells vinous, biscuity, with some hard edges of minerally. I also get clear notes of concord grape.

Dryness/Sweetness: Semi-sweet

I’d definitely call this a semi-sweet. The label says dry. I would have paired it differently had I known. 

Flavors and drinking experience: raisins, blackberry, full body, mild tannins, lots of bubbles

When tasting this cider I was at first surprised by how not dry the method charmat left this cider. Once I got into the groove with this cider, it really grew on me, The champagne style offers a lovely crystalline quality. The cider tastes like raisins, ripe apples, pears, and blackberries. 

I’m pleased to find this cider a little tannic with medium (but bright) acidity. The sweetness that surprised me along with the higher than usual ABV do give this cider lots of body and the bubbles lift that body effortlessly. The whole experience is creamy, relaxing, and languorous. I love the berry notes in the finish.

Next up, I want to share my latest treat from Kite and String: The Green Man #1. 

Kite and String is the cider that comes out of the Finger Lakes Cider House right here in the Finger Lakes region of New York. This company has been featured in quite a few reviews, so I'll leave the background there, if you'd like to learn more. 


Barrel Rye:


King of Hector:

The Hickok has  appeared a few times including:

Thanksgiving 2016:

and the Finger Lakes Locavore Birthday Dinner:

Read about both the Finger Lakes Cider House and Kite and String Cider on the website:

Here’s the description by the folks at Kite and String. This is pieced together from a photo of the label because I cannot find the full description online. My apologies if I got the line endings wrong! Please send me corrections!
The Greenman series are ciders created in the Pet-Nat style (petillant naturel) little intervention but with a lot of intention. Peter Hoover, our local Greenman has inspired generations of orchardists, pagans, and lovers of good food and cider. This cider grows out of all the kindness, curiosity and passion for the absurd that Peter poured over our roots over the years. Thank you, Peter. 8% ABV.
I was able to taste and purchase Green Man #1 from a little pop-up shop in the DeWitt Mall in downtown Ithaca. That was a treat, being able to find something new in my regular shopping rounds!

Appearance: Jack O'Lantern glow, hazy, mousse

This Green Man cider poured with an active mousse of bubbles. My tasting companion called the color Jack O’Lantern glow, and I think they are really on to something. The color is warm and orange but lit with something more bright. I’d not call the cider brilliant; it’s just a little hazy. 

Aromas: applesauce, citrus, juiciness

I have to acknowledge the amazing intensity of aroma the Green Man brings! It is a joy! I love it when I can smell a cider seconds after opening the bottle, without even needing to bring my nose to the glass! The cider wafts up soft juicy applesauce scents along with piles of fresh citrus. 

When I do inhale its fragrances, I add notes of raisins, tangerine and ripe apples to the melange. It’s utterly mouthwatering. 

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider, but it doesn’t feel bone dry because of the fruit and acid.

Flavors and drinking experience: Nectarine, tangerine, pineapple, high acid

This dry cider still brings a fruit party! I can taste nectarine, ripe apples, golden raisins, pineapple and tangerine. The Green Man offers up the region’s signature high acidity, this time balanced with medium tannins. I appreciate how dry and citrusy it manages to be.

In terms of texture, the cider has many small bubbles that make up a gentle sparkle. Petillant Naturel is another specific way of achieving a sparkler. (Please read more about this fabulous style of bubble here: )

This cider pleases from the aroma to it’s long fine finish. It’s an inspired start to a new series of ciders and a tasteful farewell to someone who was so generous to the local cider scene.