Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Cider Review: Alpenfire's Dungeness and Black Diamond's Jaywalker

I hope you are hanging in there alright, cider friends. Everything is continuing to be scary out there. Part of me didn’t even want to write this week, because it’s hard to muster up the energy to read much less write. I decided to keep going, because this is a guaranteed safely-distant semi-social activity. 

Before I dig into tasting notes, I will highlight one page. 

Here’s the American Cider Association’s COVID-19 Resources page:

It has a survey so that cideries can communicate about their needs and a whole mess of links about different facets of this crisis as they relate specifically to cider business. 

But now, I’m ready to share my thoughts on a bottle I’ve been saving, Alpenfire’s Dungeness.

I’ve reviewed just one Alpenfire cider before, Flame:

Find out more from the Alpenfire website:

Here’s the description of the Dungeness, Dry Still Cider

“Burnt Branch Reserve - Dungeness is a blend of more than 200 different types of apples nurtured by the salt and the fog of the Strait of Juan De Fuca from an old orchard just above the Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Peninsula. ABV 6.8%”

Appearance: deep pumpkin, bubbles, brilliant

This cider certainly doesn’t look still- I can see tiny bubbles! Perhaps it developed some natural petillance while in my cellar. The color looks like pumpkin and it's brilliantly clear.

Aromas: Leather, apricot, overripe apple and orange

This cider smells like something special. The Dungeness bursts with scents of leather, apricot, overripe apple, and orange. This palette of notes reminds me of many french and english style ciders. It’s mouthwatering to me and among my very favorite profiles for cider.
Sweetness/Dryness: Off Dry

The Dungeoess is just off-dry! I love that about it. A bone dry cider with this profile otherwise might have felt very astringent and drying, but this is just right.

Flavors and drinking experience: Overripe Apple medium acid and high tannins

Just as the aromas prepared me for, Alpenfire’s Dungeness pours notes of overripe apple freely. The biggest surprise was that this cider described as still on the bottle is mildly petillant. The bubbles show up both in the cider’s appearance and mouthfeel. 

The Dungeness boasts medium acidity and high tannins. My feeling that this resembles a french or english style cider is confirmed in taste as well as smell. This off-dry cider is also mildly funky. It brings notes of barn wood and clean farminess. It’s very structured and pleasant, and I thank the balance of acid, tannins, and sweetness for that.

And now, I want to share something more in the semi-dry to semi-sweet range, Black Diamond’s Jaywalker. 

Learn about all of the ciders online by visiting Black Diamond Cider's website:

I’ve reviewed many of Black Diamond’s ciders. Some of these entries include more background on this very special cidery. I’ll encourage you to read back through if you’ve not seen them before.  

Somerset Jersey:

Geneva Tremlett’s:




Porter’s Pommeau at a 2017 Locavore pairing dinner:


Appearance: Nearly brilliant, bright straw, plentiful bubbles

This cider isn’t quite hazy, but nor is it entirely brilliantly clear. The Jaywalker has a lovely bright straw color, and I can see lots of bubbles scattered through the glass.

Aromas: Honey, maple, applesauce

The aromas really are what set Black Diamond apart even from many other cider makers in the region. This cider emanates aromas of honey and maple as well as homemeade applesauce.

Sweetness/Dryness: semi-sweet

The 2.0% residual sugar is a notable difference in profile between this and the rest of Black Diamond’s portfolio. I think some 

Flavors and drinking Experience: Pear juice, full mouthfeel, strong bubble

The Jaywalker is all about lushly overripe apple notes, cooked apple, and pear juice. This cider is just so juicy. It’s probably too sweet for me to make it a regular choice, but I bet that means it is exactly right for many many many more cider drinkers.
Even with the sweetness, the Jaywalker manages to maintain the sense of balance I enjoy. And it certainly brings blooming and enticing aromas to the table. I’ve had this one a few times: at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market, and with friends, but most recently at home while practicing social distancing. 

I’ll leave with one last note of thanks to the cider makers, orchardists, and cider sellers who connect me to my favorite beverage. Things are hard right now, but we are all so grateful to you.