Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Cider Review: Fable Farm’s Greensboro and Citizen Cider’s Tulsi

This blog post has been rattling around my mind as A Tale of Two Vermont Ciders because both Fable Farm and Citizen are cideries in Vermont, yet the ciders couldn’t be more different. That and the grey cold weather reminds me of Dickensian descriptions of winter days in London. But I don’t want to characterize them before the reviews, so I’ll start with some background information on the cideries that produce each.
I have written about both cideries before.

Fable Farm was part of the first day of my Vermont Cider Tour in August 2016: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-1.html

But I’ve not done a full review of one of their ciders yet. This is long overdue.
Fable Farm Fermertory is based on some beautiful land in Barnard, Vermont. They started by growing vegetables as a CSA project in 2008. Overtime, they shifted into fermenting and making ciders and hosting community functions on that land near a gorgeous historic farmhouse. The folks behind Fable write and speak beautifully about soil, land management, cider as wine, and apples. Always trees and apples.
I recommend reading about their processes here: https://fablefarmfermentory.com/our-process/
And here's their persuasive page all about viewing cider as wine: https://fablefarmfermentory.com/cider-as-wine/

The whole website is filled with useful information and lovely photographs: https://fablefarmfermentory.com
But before tasting, let’s start with the Greensboro’s official description.
Contained herein is an effervescent, dry apple wine. 2014 was an off year in the biennial fruiting of wild apple trees for most of Vermont, including our farm and county. Our search for fruit took us to to the spirited town of Greensboro, VT, where our dear friends revealed to us an abundance of wild apples. Blessed to find an apple rich microclimate amidst a lean year, we managed to fill our truck with fruit enough to fill three barrels of cider back in Barnard. Fermentation in our farmhouse garage was slow and suspended by a period deep freeze, wherein bungs busted off barrels and cider turned to slush. Warmed by the winds of Spring, Greensboro returned to its liquid state and still contained enough residual sugars for us to bottle a mid-sparkling pétillant naturel. Cheers to the splendors brought by this alpine journey and to the vintage that almost wasn’t.

Appearance: brilliant, goldenrod, some visible bubbles

Aromas: acid, leather, overripe apples hay

I first notice some acetic acid. The notes remind me of a log cabin in winter: stones, marble, clean sweat, leather, overripe apples, cheese and hay. At first open, it struck me as just a little reductive.

Dryness/sweetness: dry

This is a dry dry cider. Its flavors come from other elements because this isn’t sweet at all.

Flavors and drinking experience: very lightly petillant, sour, tannic, full bodied

The Greensboro is barely petillant, but what I perceive is almost certainly affected by the cider’s very high acidity. That is balanced out with high tannins. While it’s not too astringent, it has some sourness and a bit bitterness. In terms of regional inspiration, I’d call the Greensboro a bit Basque, but not briny. I love how it manages to be so dry but offer up other flavors so actively. I can taste overripe apples, wild rice, Seville orange and tea leaves.

In terms of mouthfeel, the cider is full-bodied as well as lightly sparkling. Most of all, I find the Greensboro pleasantly and interestingly wild and overgrown in flavor. I’d call this an advanced cider and most likely to be appreciated by someone who already loves cider and enjoys dry cider.

And the very next day of my trip, I visited Citizen in Vermont:https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html
I’ve reviewed several Citizen Ciders before, including:
And for full disclosure, I did receive two cans of the Tulsi cider as review samples.
Citizen Cider is the hometown cider of Burlington, Vermont. This cidery has been around since 2011 and grown a tremendous amount in that time. I got to tour their facility in 2016, and I was very impressed with both their professionalism and their balance of both traditional and experimental styles.
Read more about Citizen Cider on the website: https://www.citizencider.com/
Today's Citizen Cider is the Tulsi. It's official description reads:
Tulsi, more commonly known as Holy Basil an aromatic perennial. Harvested in the summer of 2017 right here in Burlington at Hallow Herb Farm. We add this local herb to our off-dry cider blend and let it steep letting the aromatic basil complement the fresh apple cider. Once a house favorite only shared locally, now a cider to share with the Citizens.

Appearance: Brilliant, bubbly, pale gold

This cider just looks cold with its chilly pale gold color and shining brilliance. It poured with a ton of active bubbles.

Aromas: Herbal, spicy, ripe apples

This cider has so much going on in terms of aroma. I can smell ripe apples and spicy notes right away. Secondarily, this smells herbal and green with some mineral elements.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet
The description calls it off dry, but I find it semi-sweet in a lush apple and maple way.

Flavors and drinking experience: clean, high acid, herbal

The Tulsi does a lot more than deliver a semi-sweet cider with some herbal notes, but it does does that. The cider tastes extremely clean in its fermentation. I notice loads of bright acidity but no tannins. That's not a big surprise. The focus on this cider is the combination of Tulsi basil and apple and not on specific apple varieties.

I like both of these ciders and both of these cider styles. I like to think that there are countless different occasions in life and ciders that suit a great many of them. Now, if I could just find the cider that would bring spring here faster.