Sunday, July 16, 2023

Cider Review: Alde Cider from Hardanger

Yesterday, I weeded in the garden. The rain has encouraged a riot of grasses, glovers, and other garden invaders of plant and animal varieties. Even after my work, it’s still a mess. But the same conditions that created all this work have also surprised me with a beautiful cucumber. I waded through the excessive tomato foliage to get to the kale and brushing up against the greenery caused that beautiful warm tomato leaf scent to surround me. It’s beautiful even when it's sticky, messy, or overgrown. I think I’ll try to take that thought as my reassurance for the week. 

I’m sharing the last of the ciders I brought home from Norway this week. This is Alde Cider from Hardanger. When looking up this cider maker, I found just a little bit of info in English, so I’ll quote it directly from this page about Hardanger Fjord. 

Surrounded by steep mountains, the Hardangerfjord and the Folgefonna glacier, Alde Sider is idyllically located on Bleie farm in Sørfjorden. The juice and cider producer, which in 2018 was awarded the best in Norway, sells the noble drops from both the farm and Vinmonopolet (alcoholic beverage retailer).

Alde’s website is here with beautiful picture and plenty of information (in Norwegian):

Here’s what I translated from the website about this cider using Google Translate and a few human touches. I’m sure that there are plenty of infelicities and inaccuracies, and for those I apologize!

75 cl 6.9% alc

Dry and sparkling apple cider

Summerred, Discovery, Aroma and Gravenstein

Acid g/l: 7 Sugar g/l: 10

Allergen: sulfite

When the days become short and the yellow color comes into the field, the apples are ready for harvesting. Here on the farm I have Summerred, Gravenstein, Discovery and Aroma. These varieties are perfectly suited to sides and each contribute their own character. I carefully pick them down when they are sweet enough and press them into applesauce. I fill the must in steel tanks in layers with a tank of sugar and yeast.

When the fermentation has started well, I lower the temperature and wait anxiously. This allows the cider to develop slowly but surely, while retaining the fresh apple aroma. When the cider tanks are fermented, I call together good friends and taste a mixture that is balanced between acid and sweetness, fruitiness and fresh anger. I added a little carbonic acid to make it sparkling and then bottle it.

You can get Alde Sider at Vinmonopolet and in the farm shop.

Appearance: brilliant, few visible bubbles, warm sunflower yellow

This is a lovely cider. I see just a few small bubbles in an otherwise brilliant cider. The color is warm and rich; it reminds me of sunflowers.

Aromas: Smells minerals, dust and pears

The Alde Cider smells first of minerals, dust and pears. One of my co-tasters got hints of concord grape and powdered sugar as well.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi dry

What a beautiful sense of balance. I really enjoy how this cider is sweet enough to be fun, immediate, and fruity, but not so sweet as to be heavy, cloying or sticky.

Flavors and drinking experience: pear like, high acid, fine bubble, sessionable

I find this Norwegian cider very pear-like with with higher acid than most actual perries. It offers many fine tiny bubbles. The cider tastes tropical and creamy; I’m reminded of pineapple. It’s soft but strong with clean fermentation. 

I appreciate the powerful acids, both in high, spritzy regions and low, round ones that elide into woody notes. Overall, I get full flavor and mouthfeel with a sweeter finish. It’s so refreshing and sessionable.

I enjoyed this cider with a Moosewood salad recipe that I adapted into a veggie bowl over rice: sautéed asparagus, roasted red pepper, and chickpeas but with ginger teriyaki vinaigrette over rice. It was a nice summer supper and a fun easy pairing.