Monday, February 6, 2023

Cider Review: Troddenvale's Countryside Farm (100% Harrison)

Welcome back to everyone returning from their time at CiderCon. I hope you had a fantastic adventure. I loved following everyone’s posts about it. I hope re-entry into regular life is gentle and pleasant for you all. This is often a difficult season, so I offer you wishes for cold steady temperatures for orchards and warm hearths filled with love inside. Today, I’m sharing notes on a special cider that was a birthday gift last year from my darling tall one. He found for me a cider that he thought looked especially promising Troddenvale’s Countryside Farm (100% Harrison) from the Grower Series. 

Troddenale at Oakley Farm is based in Warm Springs, Virginia near the George Washington National Forest. This cider is one of the earliest releases, a batch from 2018. Here’s how the folks at Trodenvale describe their methods of cidermaking. I think it's a great introduction to the identity of this cidery more generally.

Stripping away the modern techniques and dogmatic notions of the commercial beverage industry, we strive to make pure expressions of distinct fruit and showcase where they are grown. Focusing on what the fruit can give us requires patience and limited intervention. 

Working with true cider varietals limits the need of flavor-enhancing adjuncts and corrections. Relying purely on native microbial populations provides genuine complexity and individual character. Fermenting in neutral oak creates depth and microflora continuity. Bottling unfiltered provides texture, leaving nothing behind. Limiting the addition of preservatives ensures these ciders are transparent, alive, and evolving.

Visit Troddenvale online to learn about the current lineup of ciders:

Here’s what info I could glean about the Countryside Farm from the cider's back label. 

The grower series focuses on expression of single orchard sites. 

Sparkling Cider. 100% Harrison.

Grown by Countryside Farm and Nurseries of Crimora, Virginia.

Concentrated rich aromatics. Robust phenolic structure. Drink with food. Full native yeast fermentation in neutral oak. Sur lie aged. Undisgorged.

No fining/filtration.

No pasteurization.

No chapitalization.

No acidification.

No added sulfites.

Batch 2018

35 Cases produced

Alc. 8.5% by volume

From the great springs region of Virginia, sparkling ciders of origin driven by transparency. Produced and bottled by Troddenvale, Warm Springs, Virginia.

Appearance: deep color, few visible bubbles, hazy, no sediment in the first 2 glasses

The cider is hazy with deep marigold color, few visible bubbles, no sediment in the first 2 glasses.

Aromas: Woody, twiggy, lime, mineral, and floral

There are wonderful complexities to these aromas. The Countryside Farm smells powerfully woody in a way that anticipates both tannins and acid. I think the cider will be bright and dry, but we’ll see what flavors lie in store. It smells English but not too powerfully funky. There’s also a beautiful interplay of lime, mineral and floral notes.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

The Countryside Farm tastes dry but not bone dry. The cider has a lot going on that feels totally separate from the dry/sweet spectrum.

Flavors and drinking experience: petillant, tannic, wood, full mouthfeel, angular

This cider, upon first sip, was declared an instant winner. It’s petillant with angular fruitiness, high tannins, and white wood notes. It doesn’t taste traditionally barrelly, but also definitely gained something from its fermentation in neutral oak. I appreciate how full the mouthfeel is. The Countryside Farm is boozy at 8.5oz but with no undue heat. 

It’s well balanced, especially considering that its a single varietal. I don’t expect to get the right counterbalance of acidity, tannin, bubbles, phenolics and everything from just one apple. The minimal intervention approach that Troddenvale committed to was entirely rewarding in this case. I am beyond impressed!

Overall, the cider is serious, but immediately rewarding. I love that it’s still completely delicious a full five years after fermentation (it’s a 2018 batch)! We just served it with a hearty yet simple United Kingdom inspired dinner of jacketed potatoes with beans, shredded cheddar and vegetarian sausage. It was perfect!