Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cider Review: South Hill Cider's Stone Fence Farm

One of the cideries making the Finger Lakes cider explosion happen has to be South Hill Cider. Steve Selin's small cidery uses local fruit, heritage varietals of apple, and foraged fruit. They've not been around for many years yet, but their ciders have certainly made a name for themselves quickly. You can read about everything they do on the website.

I have reviewed two South Hill Ciders before. 

First a single batch blend with hops and cherries, the Hypothesis:

I also reviewed the 2014 batch of the foraged PackBasket also blended with foraged pears:

What I'm realizing only just now, this review of the Stone Fence Farm is my only review of a cider made from only apples. How novel! 

Here's how South Hill Cider introduces it.

A single-orchard cider, all of the fruit came from a small homestead cider orchard planted by our friend Peter Hoover between 1995-2000 near Trumansburg, NY. 
Still, DryBalanced and expressive. Aromas of wet slate, rich soil. Starfruit, lychee, walnut. Mouth-watering finish.Apple varieties: Golden and Roxbury Russets, Redfield, Tremletts Bitter, Bramleys Seedling, Zabergau Reinette, Kingston Black, Major, Michelin, Medaille d'Or, Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Esopus Spitzenburg, Sops of Wine, Granny Smith, Foxwhelp, Winter Banana, Calville Blanc, Cox's Orange Pippin, Sheepnose, and more.RS 0.3% / TA 7.6g/L / 7.5 ABV750 mL 
I want to take a moment just to emphasize that all of the apples for this cider came from one small orchard. And look at those varieties! These are not easily found apples. The orchard isn't a commercial operation, just the labor of love of someone who loves cider and apples very much. Its a tremendous window into this fruit to see it come together as a single batch of cider. I'm very curious!

Appearance: just a little hazy, warm saffron yellow, virtually no visible bubbles

Please forgive the helpfully labeled Chardonnay glasses in the picture. I assure you, this is cider and not Chardonnay. I love the color, its so warm and mellow. It isn't a brilliant tone of color and there are no bubbles to speak of. I predict a still cider.

Aromas: soft apples, paper, minerals, fermentation

This smells subtly floral and just a little powdery. I get tons of apple with some soft papery notes. The cider also seems a little minerally while still giving off airs of gently boozy fermentation. What a charming overall impression!

Dry/sweet: just off dry

This cider seems almost totally dry. The experience is not dominated by this factor, but I find the barest hint of sweetness quite pleasant in the context of the other flavors. Primarily though, it does come across as dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: Still, great mouthfeel, mellow, high tannin

I was right; this cider is completely still! It also resembles the aromas I noticed by being high tannin, high acid, and just off-dry. I mean its pretty functionally dry. but also warmly rich and flavorful. I adore its gentle mouthcoat. This is decidedly finger lakes in profile but well-balanced. 

It tastes like fermented fruit, not fresh fruit. This means its a little yeasty a little spicy, very mellow and offers up a golden nice long finish. I had this cider at a friends house with homemade pasta with a red cream sauce and a super flavorful salad with lots of balsamic vinegar. The cider was not overpowered by these bold combinations, but you could also let it be even more central with some more simple gentle pairings like burrata cheese, grilled peaches, and toasted almonds. At least, that's how I would do it.