Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The January 2017 Cidrbox and Eden's Imperial 11° Rose Cider

Today, March begins with thunderstorms and wind; its unseasonably warm. But I want to share a cider experience from just before CiderCon, in the first days of last month. Imagine weather like March in upstate New York is supposed to have; that was much of our February. And that's when I got my sample Cidrbox in the mail. 

Full disclosure, I got to try a free Cidrbox for review purposes. I assure you that this does not sway my opinion about either the experience of getting a cider subscription or the cider from the box that I'm reviewing here. It did get to skip much nearer to the front of the review line somewhat though, but I don't want the December box being reviewed much later!

To give a bit more background about CidrBox as a service, the business is a subscription and curation service as well as a guide to the ciders it supplies. Dayna Bateman put it together and launched the project in December of 2016. She shared some of her time with me so I could learn more about what they offer. 

Most cider fans are extremely limited in their access to high quality craft, artisan, or orchard ciders. These products tend to stay local. Shipping laws are complicated and many wonderful ciders are made in such small quantities that anything like national or even regional distribution is impossible. That's where Cidrbox comes in as a service to both cidermaker and cider lover. 

Cidrbox finds cider makers who make amazing orchard based ciders. Dayna specifically seeks out ciders made from apples cultivated especially for cider. Things are very place based and the whole service gives cider lovers a window into a different cider terroir than the ones they might be able to find at home. 

I want to emphasize the reduced shipping rate. Each Cidrbox ships for ten dollars. That means you can get a box of cider from across the country for less than the cost of one bottle of good cider. The price applies to all three sizes of Cidrbox: three bottle, six bottle, and 12 bottle. Most bottles will be the 750ml size but a few, like the ice ciders in this box, will be 375ml.

You can read much more about this subscription service here:

Then the actual unwrapping experience, my ciders were packaged securely and neatly. I've gotten perhaps more than my fair share of cider arrivals in the mail, so I've witnessed a large range in how cider can be prepared for transport. Each bottle came in an individual protective box within the larger package.

Here's how they all look freshly unboxed on the piano bench.

Another fun part of trying a new cider is tasting with others, so Cidrox includes recordings of tasting sessions, extensive shared notes, and pairing suggestions. 

Here's a link to the material accompanying the Eden box:

There's both plenty of helpful information to contextualize these varied ciders and a ton of personality here. I love the photos and videos. The layout is clear and approachable. It certainly made me feel like i could open any one of these ciders and drink with Eleanor and David and the Eden crew. 

One of the other really social feeling and enjoyable elements is the feeling that getting a Cidrbox from a company starts an ongoing connection to that cidery. Cidrbox makes it easy to order more ciders from them after you've enjoyed learning about them and drinking everything from the box. That contextualization and ongoing flow of information and connection really makes it feel like more than the other subscriptions I've tried. Instead it feels more like an introduction at a small party with really good cider.

From my Cidrbox today, I want to review Eden's Imperial 11° Rose

Eden Sparkling Cider's Official description for the Imperial 11° Rose reads as follows, "Imperial 11° Rose Cider - New! Heirloom apple cider made with red currant and lightly dosed with ice cider. It is just off-dry and gently fizzy, with bright acidity and chewy tannic structure. A perfectly refreshing summer sipper!" The ABV is listed as 11% and the cider comes in either 750ml or 375ml bottles. My Cidrbox came with a full size 750ml.

Appearance: brilliant, deep fuchsia pink hedging into the red of rubies, few bubbles

I cannot overemphasize how pretty this cider is. I cannot do it. This red brilliance is lovelier than both rose and rubies to me. Perhaps, I am sharing too effusively, but many rubies do not have perfect clarity and many rose wines are not so intense in their color. The color reminds me of the dark pink of peonies, one of my favorite flowers.

Aroma: red currants, dust, cranberries

Apples do not come to the forefront of these scents. Instead, I am met with red currants, cranberries and that familiar dusty smell that has come (at least to me) to predict the presence of tannins and astringency.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry and tart

This tastes extremely tart, enough to make me question how much sweetness I perceive in this cider. It comes across as off-dry, but I'm guessing the measurable sugar would be slightly more than it seems.

Flavors: tart, fruity, vinous, bubbly

The Imperial 11° Rose cider is fruity and tart and extremely pleasantly balanced. The balance isn't an easy one, but more the dymanic balance of a tightrope walker, and my sense of excitement is only supported by how bubbly it is! The cider tastes far more vinous than most and reminds me of black currants, though the currants in the beverage are the more unusual red currants. The whole experience is deliciously mouth-puckering, jammy, nearing a hint of solvent, but ending up estery instead.
This cider is so very zingy, it reminds me of the letter z, the zest of fruit, and the feeling of a stretched string (back to the tightrope image). 

But, I am going to disagree with the official description. I think calling it a "summer sipper" undersells the complexity and flexibility of this lovely beverage. The Cidrbox folks are genius to pack this bit of flavorful intensity into a winter box. Right now is when we need the pop and zing of red fruit. Winter can be worrisome, disappointing, and glum (sorry winter lovers), so each moment of vibrant awesomeness should be seized. That's what this cider is all about for me.

And as for the Cidrbox experience, I could not be happier! The ciders were packed securely, shipped promptly, presented contextually, and best all well chosen.