Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Cider Review: Once Upon a Tree Wild Flight and Portland Cider Co. Razzberry

While I miss so very much about times before the global pandemic, I’m finding it easier to appreciate my yard and my porch with these beautiful weeks of mild summer weather. This week, I chose two very different ciders because I wanted to see how these two flavor profiles work with sitting on a porch in the evening.

I encourage you to learn about the company through their own words. I quite like how they describe themselves on a distributor website.
Good orchard management, fantastic soils and perfect mesoclimate means the fruit is some of the best available anywhere in the UK. Cider maker Simon Day is an experienced professional winemaker who began making cider after walking through the local orchards and seeing the potential to use winemaking skills to capture the true characters of the apples in the juice and ciders.  Great care is taken to select the best fruit with the least intervention possible to maximise the flavour imparted into their ciders and perrys.

Once Upon A Tree has a great info page on the website,

The Wild Flight Single Origin Dabinett’s official description is short and to the point.  I’m surprised it doesn’t talk up the single origin element more!

“A bottle-conditioned natural sparkling dry cider made with wild yeast. Aged for over 3 years, the taste is rich with bittersweet fruit. 7% ABV”

Appearance: copper, hazy, few bubbly

The Wild Flight looks coppery and hazy when poured. I could see a fair number of bubbles rising up through the cider. 

Aromas: funky, hay, dusty, leather

I see why Once Upon a Tree included the word wild in the name of his cider; it’s really funky!

The cider smells like leather, barn wood, and oranges. I also get notes that remind me of dust and warm hay.

Sweetness/dryness: dry

This is a dry cider with some fruit and mineral notes, but no actual sweetness. The flavors all come from other elements.

Flavors and drinking experience: mega tannic, chalky, petrol, citrus

The first sip is a slap! This cider tastes hardcore tannic, mildly chalky, with some citrus and apple notes and medium acidity. It’s tannic enough that you might say it’s evocative of drinking a stick of aged barn wood or very strongly steeped black tea.  It’s certainly zingy, perhaps even a little harsh. The mineral notes shade into reminding me of petrol-heavy white wines. But the Wild Flight also offers up soft fruit and citrus notes.

I enjoy ciders like this. It’s very distinctly UK style. This cider has a lovely long appley finish. 
It’s quite bubbly and full bodied. We had it after dinner because I wanted all of the Dabinett character to shine through with the distractions of food. We did end up finding pretzels and crackers just for a bit of crunch and contrast, but this cider would pair well with simple bold flavors. I’d pair it with strong cheddar, homemade pretzels, and mustard.

My next cider was a sample shared with me by Portland Cider Co. The Razzberry! Portland Cider Co. Tends to create lots of blended ciders that use Northwest apples but also other fruits and ingredients. They are often semi-dry to sweet and more fun and innovative rather than traditional.

I’ve reviewed a few of their ciders before. Here’s the list.

Peach Berry:

Kinda Dry:



Pumpkin Spice:

Pineapple Rose:

A cool thing I just heard about is their PDX cider club! You can read about it here:

Here’s how Portland Cider Co. introduces this one, “Loads of bright raspberries combine with Northwest grown apples, a touch of lemon zest, and Hood River Valley pears for a refreshing cider that everyone will love. Easy-drinking, thirst-quenching and refreshingly tart, RazzBerry is ideal for barbecues and outdoor adventures. 5.8% ABV”

Appearance: brilliant, bubbly, strawberry red

I’d not call this cider a rose, as it's far more red than pink. The color reminds me of perfectly ripe strawberries. It’s also brilliant and bubbly.

Aromas: sweet apple, raspberry

As soon as I cracked the can on the Razzberry I could smell oodles of sweet apple and raspberry smells. This is a juicy set of smells that make me anticipate a sweet cider!

Sweetness/dryness: sweet!

While some folks might call this cider semi-sweet, I think it’s sweet! The sweetness is concentrated fruity and thick like jam.

Flavors and drinking experience: Chambord, raspberry, apple butter, pear and lemon

Pear and lemon do show up in the Razzberry’s flavors along with raspberry and apple. Lots of what I taste isn’t simple though.  A bit of concentration and booziness mean that instead of just tasting raspberries, I taste Chambord and raspberry jam. It’s all so very juicy!

I appreciate the good strong bubble and plentiful citrus acidity to this cider. It has a full body that comes more from sweetness rather than alcohol. This could be a cider to turn into a float with lemon sorbet! As it is, it was downright dessert-y and decadent.