Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cider Review: Uncle John's Cider Rosé

This afternoon I am desperate for some color. Yes the whites of snow and grays of winter are among nature's subtle masterpieces, but I am ready for something brighter!  This is what led me to Uncle John's Fruit House Winery Cider Rosé. Of course a beautifully red cider will clear away any sense of winter blahs! Besides, I've been saving this one long enough. It is another one of the treasures I got to bring home from GLINTCAP.

To begin with a bit of background. Uncle John's Fruit House Winery is part of the larger business of Uncle John's Ciderhouse in Michigan. It looks like an amazing place to visit, especially if you're like me and just go nuts for agricultural tourism fun with apples and pumpkins and baked goods and spectacular views. 

Read about the place and the cider on this website: https://www.ujcidermill.com/.

My own previous reviews of Uncle John's Ciders include on of the American 150

and the Draught Cider (in a can!).

I've enjoyed both of these ciders, but I'm ready to see how different a Rosé will taste. My previous experience with a Rosé cider is extremely limited, so the curiousity is great. If you want to read a bit more about rosé ciders in general from someone whose had more of them than me, I'd recommend Chris Lehault's article on Serious Eats http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/08/rose-cider-how-it-gets-pink-what-to-try-uncle-johns-lukeluk-traditions.html

This is what I read about this cider on its label:
Now that you have come to love our initial line of ciders, it is time to introducet this line of specialty ciders - made from fruit taht is unique in nature, and is now always available publicly. Cider Rosé is very special. Its color comes from 100% red flished apples such as Geneva, Redfield, Watermelon, Niedzwetzkyana and others. The rosé pigment is evident the minute the apples are pressed, and only gets richer as it is fermented. This is a very rare cider - as are the apple. There are less than 40 cases available, and it won't last long. Enjoy!
Only 40 cases! Whoa, I feel very special indeed to have a bottle of this.

As several articles that mention this cider, it seems significant to note that Uncle John's Cider Rosé is first to use Malus Niedzwetzkyana. Aside from just being a really cool apple name, this matters because that's a pretty neat apple variety and the genetic grandparent as it were of most cultivated apples with red flesh. One last fact, the ABV is a very reasonable 6.7%.

Appearance: Cerise, brilliant, fizzy!

When first poured, the Cider Rosé fizzles up into the most delicately light pink mousse imaginable. I wish I were quick enough with a camera to catch it because it doesn't last. This cider's own color is cerise or perhaps even the Pantone shade Magenta. This looks deeper than many rosé wines perhaps because of the differences between red grape skins and red-fleshed apples.

Aromas: minerals, strawberries, rhubarb, fresh apple

It took a few sniffs to really feel like I understood how this cider smells. It was deliciously elusive for a bit. Eventually I decided that the Cider Rosé smells like minerals as much as it smells like strawberries, rhubarb, apples and cranberry. Fruity smells, but I'm anticipating dryness.

Tastes so tart I made a face for the first sip. First red berries and dryness!

Dryness/Sweetness: Dry! Oh my!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect here because the cider smelled like it might be dry but both of my previous Uncle John's ciders were semi-dry. It tastes dry indeed!

Flavors and drinking experience: many stages of flavor, pleasant, highly acidic

The dryness of this cider speaks first, and it remains acidic throughout. The biggest surprise to me is the pleasingly astringent third act; it may come in late but it sharply continues through the finish. I love how much I find in this cider. I think the red-fleshed apples probably include many eating varieties all of which can contribute to pleasant levels of acidity. It has just the right amount of sparkle to be very drinkable, something I've noticed in general with Uncle John's ciders.

This one has to be my favorite though. All of that zesty red fruit tartness is just so pleasing!

I had this with Celebration Roast (braised in cider of course) and roasted brussel sprouts. The pairing worked very very well because each element offered its own interest and the stuffing of a celebration roast has butternut squash, mushrooms and granny smith apples all of which respond well to a full bodied dry cider like this. As for pairing this with an activity, if you can find any (or happen to have saved some from warmer months) drink it while watching the snow fall and drift. It will remind you in both appearance and flavor that warmer and more colorful days are coming.