Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cider Review: Eve's Cidery's Autumn's Gold

Today, I'm reviewing Eve's Cidery's Autumn Gold. Maybe because it is very warm right now and I'm craving anything other than hot hot summer. No matter my reason, Eve's Cidery is another fabulous small cider producer in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. Can you tell how excited I am to move to the area? I first discovered them during New York City's 2012 cider week, and again when I stumbled on their booth at the Union Square Farmer's Market in New York City. The cider started in 2002. They have a great website. Here's what they say about themselves, "Eve’s Cidery is a small family run orchard and cidery located in Van Etten, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. We grow apples and other tree fruits and ferment artisanal ciders. We believe in nature, art, good food and hard work. These beliefs influence the way we farm, make cider and sell our product. We hope you can taste some of it in the bottle." I suppose we'll soon find out.

Autumn's Gold fills my glass today, and I'm curious what in particular about it can bring autumn to mind. Anything along those lines would be appreciated. The cider is listed as 9% ABV on the bottle but 10% ABV on the website, so I imagine it varies slightly year to year. This is what Eve's Cidery says about this variety, "Naturally sparkling, off dry. This cider is a blend of English, French and American cider apples. Autumn’s Gold is golden, bubbly and off dry. It has a distinctive fruity nose that comes only from bittersweet apples, smoky, tannic undertones and a rich, warm texture and lingering finish. One of the great delights of this cider is pairing it with cheese. Cave aged cheddar, stilton, smoked gouda or a unique raw-milk cheese from your local dairy. Serve Autumn’s Gold with your main course alongside savory foods such as home-made pasta with truffle butter, parsnip soup and anything with bacon." While I won't be trying the cider with bacon, I love the other food suggestions. Very autumnal and pleasant.

On Eve's Cidery's webpage about making sparkling cider, I found even more interesting factual information about the Autumn's Gold. They tell us about their aims and apple selection, "But for the Autumns Gold and Bittersweet ciders, we aim for a ratio of between 60% and 75% cider apple to desert apple varieties.  We conceive of the Autumns Gold as a rich, dry, tannic cider.  So two 260 gallon tanks after a long day of pressing in October might hold a 60:40 combination of bittersweet varieties such as Brown Snout,  Medialle D’ Or and Chisel Jersey and desert varieties such as Jonagold and Ida red." I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when a cidery tells us this kind of information about their apple choices and rationales. Two thumbs up!

Appearance: absolutely brilliant, pale honey, cornbread

Pours with a light mousse that dissipates quickly. The honey-like color so intrigued me that I wanted to look at the specific colors of different types of honey. I matched a few and found that this looks to me most like sage honey. Now I really want to taste sage honey.

Aromas: ripe apples, green grapes, sugared walnuts

The list of aromas catalogues the nature of the apple smell, the secondary fruit scents, and other associative aromas. To be a bit more abstractly descriptive it smelled fresh and fruity, but also tangy and zesty, with a bit of yeast

Sweetness: off dry

The particular type of off dry in this cider has to be a beery near dryness. It hints at richness without really being sweet.

Flavors: grapefruit, barrel

The cider has medium high tannins and quite high acidity. These contribute to my sensing pithy white grapefruit as I drink it. Very enjoyable but intense. The barrel notes come from the tannins and are a little more relaxed than the acidity but still come across in a pronounced way. It comes together as a very grown-up cider.

Drinking Experience: This is most definitely a sipping cider. The Autumn's Gold contains some of the bitterness of beer. The level of carbonation is notably high, to the point that it gives the experience of drinking a dry apple champagne. This could be a cider for something formal. Make this a wedding toast cider.

In terms of food pairing, I could go in one of two directions. For nibbling, I'd pair it with an aged gouda, preferably the ones that are old enough to having a fairly hard and slightly crystalized texture, like a 5 year. Or if you do want to pair it will a meal or course, put it with a summery salad that has both fruit and avocado.

I find the cider to be very good, but don't pair it with a thirsty meal or try to drink it by itself. This is a cider to be considered and enjoyed slowly with other flavors and textures that can stand up to the tannins and acidity.

Lastly, I also want to recommend a specific section of Eve's Cidery's website. Their section about making cider is clear, well-written, and educational. I have to recommend it to anybody who wants to learn more about the cider process as well as enjoying its rewards.

Eve's Cidery: Making Sparkling Cider