Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cider review: Eve's Cidery Albee Hill Cider Still & Dry

I love my regional Finger Lakes Ciders! Though they are not allowed to describe themselves as Finger Lakes Ciders on their labels because this area is an American Viticultural Area(AVA), we have a region that produces some really thoughtful and interesting ciders. Weather, soil, orchard history, and fermentation knowledge come together in the Finger Lakes like nowhere else in the world. Eve's Cidery has been a part of that since 2002, making orchard ciders heavily indebted to the special character of the region. I'm excited to share my review of their Albee Hill Cider Still & Dry.

When I say that Eve's Cidery makes orchard ciders, I'm using a relatively young term that some cideries are using to mean that they view their role as cider makers more like facilitators of the apples' show. They grow and press apples first and foremost, and the ciders that come out of this process reflect the orchards rather than the fermentation process. Eve's Cidery places the apples at the center of their process and product.

You can see lots of orchard and harvest pictures on their Facebook page:

My previous reviews of Eve's Cidery beverages number only two, but hopefully I can cover more of the lineup next year.

Here's my take on Beckhorn Hollow Dry, a naturally sparkling cider, from just before my first Finger Lakes Cider Week.

You can also look way back to this review a previous batch of Autumn's Gold. I think this one is fascinating as Along Came a Cider was still based on New York City and did not yet know the apples or terroir of the Finger Lakes region at all.

From the Eve's Cidery website I found their statement on still ciders:
Still cider is cider unadorned by bubbles. Ciders made from true cider apples have an ideal balance of components for pairing with food. Cider occupies a unique place in the beverage spectrum: It has both the tannins to cut through and dissolve fat from food and the acids to clear, refresh and renew the pallet. Our still ciders, one from a single orchard and the other from a single esteemed cider variety, showcase the quiet, unassuming way that cider can enhance and synergize food to make flavors pop and sing. These ciders are best consumed at cellar temperature in order to allow the tannins to open up.
Read more at: 

The following description is from their 2012 Albee Hill. Each year varies tremendously, and if you're shopping out and and about for a specific one, you can judge by the ABV. Different years have gone as low as 6.9% and as high as 9%. I had a 2012 on my shelf. I'd love to hear your thoughts on other years.
Still, dry. This single orchard cider is made entirely from English and French cider apples grown in our Albee Hill Orchard where shallow shale based soils, low fertility, and no irrigation result in concentrated tannins and acids. Bottled still and dry, Albee Hill is minimalist cider, which embodies true cider apple character. Austere mineral flavors, elegant tannins and a lively acidity make this a serious food cider. Serve with seafood chowder, smoked sausages or Spanish blue cheese.

Appearance: brilliant, totally still, burnt orange

This color reminds me of the recent harvest moons of autumn. It's just that deep burnt orange that says warmth. I love how brilliant and clear it is. And of course, no bubbles.

Aromas: brown sugar, overripe apples, dust

It smells like texture as well as flavor, if such a thing makes sense. I can smell dark crystallized sugar and the yielding mash of overripe apples. Dust and subtle oxidation. It smells like richness warmth and comfort. I anticipate tannins and dryness, based on these aromas.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry but not harsh

Okay folks, I need to level with you. This is not a sweet cider. It's dry and complex, but I think a fair number of semi-dry drinkers could really love it. And here's why. It offers so much fruit that though its dry its intensely flavorful, exciting, and well balanced. I love dry, so maybe you won't believe me. read more about the tastes

Flavors and drinking experience: very smooth, earthy, apple finish

This cider is deeply congenial What I find so pleasing about the cider is the balance, richness, and seeming contradictions it holds. The Albee Hill manages to be so richly fruity with notes of pineapple and tangerine.  Now for the facts. this is extremely tannic, medium acidity. It keeps enough acid to maintain a firmness to the texture but not much more. It's very earthy, mushroomy, very pleasant finish.

Usually I am a bubble person. I love the excitement of bubbles. I love what they do for aromas. But this cider does not need them. Its very much like a well-balanced English cider, and bubbles would harsh its mellow vibe.

This is the perfect time of year for this cider. Use its peaceful smooth earthiness to ground yourself during holiday preparation madness. Take time to just be and enjoy. This cider can help.