Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cider Review: Eaglemount Rhubarb Cider

I like to think of summer as visiting season here in Ithaca, and, when people visit me, they get to try ciders. Sharing cider is always a joy, but choosing ciders for friends and family that I think they will particularly enjoy makes the experience even better. So, during my dad's recent visit, I broke out the first Rhubarb cider I've ever seen.

Eaglemount makes wines and ciders in Washington state; their Rhubarb Cider is a blend of half apple wine and half rhubarb wine. I say wine because they do, and they have to because of their 8%ABV.

Eaglmount Winery has been in business since 2006 but the founder had been making ciders, wines, and meads since 1996. They have a tasting room in Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington State. Their website gives plenty of good information about their business, their products, and even about their orchard. They mention several distinct heritage varieties including Gravenstein, Winter Banana, Jonathan, and Roxbury Russet as well as varieties of French and English cider apples. You can read more about them at

One last cool note. They introduced me to the existance of a Washington State Cider Route: "The Olympic Peninsula’s 3 cideries are located within minutes of each other." This clearly deserves a place high up on my list of future cider vacations.

Appearance: Deep maize, hazy, some sediment

This cider has tons and tons of color. When poured it looks as intensely maize as an unpopper kernel of popcorn. I see no visible bubbles anywhere, but I do see some sediment. This cider is hazy and not totally brilliant.

Aromas: Rhubarb, apple, cherry, fruity and juicy

Eaglemount's Rhubarb Cider gives off oodles of fresh fruit aromas, mostly rhubarb, but also apple and cherry. This cider smells so very juicy! Fruit just utterly dominates the aromas, but with a hint of smooth acridity,  perhaps even a tiny note of coffee or at least coffee berry.

Sweetness: semi-sweet to sweet

The fruit flavors come out just as much one the palate as to the nose. This cider tastes like apples, rhubarb, and strawberry. For being a fairly sweet cider, it has medium astringency and a persistantly pleasant mouthfeel.

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, very nearly still, tannic, sippable

One of the most notable features of this cider when I drink it is that Eaglemount's Rhubarb cider is petillant, almost entirely still. Ciders can come in all levels of sparkle from completely non-sparkling and still to champagne levels of effervescence. This cider falls far more to the still side of the spectrum.

I can taste a moderate level of tannins coming from the heirloom apples in this cider. I do not taste much in the way of acidity: decidedly low acid. I almost wish there was more going on there.  Sipping is the best way to enjoy this cider, as big gulp do not illuminate it in any special way. I get some lingering astringency after drinking and that ongoing nice mouthfeel. Alex says “the more I drink it, the more I like it.” High praise from him.

The flavor really doles out lots of strawberry—a bit like an oaked strawberry wine—but rhubarb tends to bring out that flavor in its companions.  This cider is astoundingly not warming for how alcoholic it is; kinda hard to believe it’s really so strong.  I also get nice lakeside breezy minerals.
Overall, I think this is a lovely fruit wine and cider blend. It tastes very good with strongly flavored foods; we had it with falafel and hummus, though something about this bespeaks cold summer nights—a rocky beach, lighthouse in the background. If you want a cider for nighttime beach picnics or lakeside porch sitting, this is a great one for that.