Friday, January 3, 2014

Cider Review: Crimson Ridge Vintage Dry

Apologies for the photo of an empty bottle. I took this with me to a New Year's Eve celebration and it recieved such an enthusiastic response from my fellow cider drinkers that I didn't have time to get better pictures. That's a recommendation in and of itself, I suppose.

Getting to the basics, I'm opening Along Came A Cider's second year of cider reviews with the Crimson Ridge Vintage Dry. The cider is part of a small premium line by Virginia Cider producers Bold Rock. I reviewed one of Bold Rock's six-pack draft style ciders a few months ago, as part of my cider tastings on vacation. You can see what I said about the cider and the company here:

In terms of an official variety introduction, I cannot say that Crimson Ridge/Bold Rock tells us much, even on their about page: This one description is meant to serve for both of their premium offerings, "In the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Wintergreen, Virginia is a cidery overlooking the Rockfish River. Here a custom blend of Virginia apples is crafted to make a premium hard cider with a rounded, full-bodied apple taste. Rich and beautifully effervescent, Crimson Ridge is exceptionally well-balanced, bringing out the very best in Virginia apples." It is lovely to know that they use local Virginia apples and that their goals include body and balance, but I think they could tell us more about each cider specifically.

Appearance: light straw, some degree of visible effervescence, brilliant

Even in my red plastic Solo cup (I should have thought ahead and brought my own glass, oops.), I could see that the Vintage Dry's color is light straw. It appears brilliant in the clear bottle; most 750ml cider bottles are not clear, so I was a bit surprised when I first saw this. Once opened the bottle showed visible signs of effervescence but not to any unusual degree. Just a lovely sparkling cider.

Aromas: overripe apples, powdered sugar, other fruits

I immediately noted the warm overripe apple smell on this cider. Now, please don't get me wrong. Overripe is a way to describe the intensity of the apple aroma, not implying any negative aspect to the apple smell at all. This cider has a strong apple scent, especially when compared to other craft ciders. Secondarily I can smell strawberries and pineapple; the Vintage Dry smells very fruity.

Sweetness: Dry

Surprisingly after those buckets of fruits on the nose of the cider, it actually tastes fairly dry. Crimson Ridge's Vintage Dry offers some degree of fruit without tons of sweetness.

Flavors and Drinking Experience: minerality, soft fruits, spice

At first the Vintage Dry offers up hints of minerals and almost metallics, but that develops into  golden ginger spice. The fruits soften the midpalate to my tastes, and the whole show closes with a lovely clean finish. This cider is lightly and naturally sparkling; I enjoy that its bubbles are not too harsh. In terms of mouthfeel, the Vintage Dry coats the mouth to a medium degree. It doesn't disappear on the tongue.

This was a big hit with my friends as our first New Year's Eve cider. We enjoyed it while playing board games, eating copious amounts of gorgeous food (beer battered asparagus!), and watching the snow fall out the windows. This was a great cider for a great New Year's and in general I'd recommend the Crimson Ridge Vintage Dry as a celebratory beverage. But don't make yourself wait a full year to try it. Celebrate the little things too. Celebrate snow, or a pet birthday, or a completed knitting project, or successfully writing 2014 on something. The Crimson Ridge Vintage Dry goes with all of the above.