Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cider Review: Weidmann + Groh: Cydonia Apfel Perlwein, Art + Science West Valley Cider plus News!

Chances are, if you are reading this page, you love cider. That’s why I write here week after week. But last year, I set aside a whole month to learn about perry: Very Perry May. I took that deep dive by writing five weeks of perry or pear cider reviews. Next month, I’ll be doing it again, but pears and apples aren’t the only pome fruit. I don’t want to forget about quince!

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on two ciders that blend apple with quince. For a bit of background, quince is in the Rosaceae family but it’s the only member of its genus: Cydonia. The primary taste attribute of quince is its tartness. It can be cooked and eaten; some varieties are even palatable raw, but quince jam is far more common. Not very many cider makers use quince, and these blends still draw primarily from apples. I’m drawing from two very geographically disparate makers here: Germany and Washington State. Let’s see what quince adds to what we know about cider.

The first comes from German beverage producer Weidmann + Groh. The name of the drink is: Cydonia Apfel Perlwein.

Weidmann + Groh makes fruit wines and distilled spirits. The company has been selling fruit spirits since the late 1980s out of Friedberg. Before distilling, the company had an orchard and fruit farm in the location, hence the start of a very locally oriented agricultural business. I apologize that I don’t have a more complete picture of them to share, but I’m hesitate to paraphrase from a Google translation of the webpage for my only direct source of information.

Feel free to explore here to find out more and see some lovely pictures, but the website is in German: https://weidmann-groh.de/
Official description (again translation provided by Google.)
Variety: Our Cydonia is made from different apple varieties. Friedberger Bohnapfel, Landsberger Renette, Goldparmäne, Boskop, Kaiser Wilhelm, Gewürzluiken and of course quince. 

Production: We place special emphasis on the correct maturity of the quince. They ripen after harvest for about 2 weeks before they are processed. About 25% quince must is then added to the cider and fermented. After the fermentation of the must, the wine is taken from the Hefedepot and then stored for 8 weeks. This clarifies the wine and is then completely clear. Now it can be filled. Compared to still wines, endogenous carbonic acid is added to our Cydonia just before filling. This gives a sparkling fresh taste experience, which is particularly popular in the warmer months of the year. 

Taste profile: Fragrant, fresh, typical Quittentuft, fruity tart, with fine Perlage and a slight residual sweetness.

Serving suggestion: Best in a tulip-like glass. Serve chilled, between 4 and 7 degrees. After opening, keep the bottle cool to avoid carbon dioxide loss through heating. Use emergency bottles at the latest the next day.

Appearance: brilliant, corn kernel, some bubbles

This is a lovely cider. The color reminds me of unpopped kernels of popcorn with that intense warm yellow. I can see some bubbles such that I anticipate a bubbly cider, and it’s totally brilliant.

Aromas: juicy apples, wet grass, floral

The Apfel Perlwein smells juicy and appley in a very immediate way, but there are lots of other layers as well. The cider smells herbal, floral, and aquatic: the image that comes to mind is a swift moving creek in a wild forest. The wildness hints at what might taste a tiny bit like Spanish French cider styles. 

Dryness/sweetness: semi-sweet and honeyed

This has a notably honey like sweetness, that feels totally natural. It does remind me of some french ciders.

Flavor and drinking experience: tart, medium bubbles, herbal, briney, tannic

Wow! This does taste a little different and I wish I knew if this was the German cider making style, the unfamiliar apples, or the quince. There are too many unknown factors here! There's a pleasant high herbal note of rosemary in a generally herbal field.

The Apfel Perlwein offers up gentle to medium carbonation, a nice wet mouhfeel, and a friendly balance of sweet and salty elements. This cider speaks with high lingering tannins, lots of malic acid, and a little funk. I’d definitely describe it as briney. In terms of geographic and historic styles, it's like Spanish and English ciders had a sweet French baby. I know that’s far from precise, but that starts to paint the picture.

We drank this cider with sweet cake, which overrode the sweetness and brought out the tannins. I’d definitely recommend this pairing! 

Art + Science West Valley CiderThis is my first review of anything by Art + Science. The company was founded in 2011 originally as a winery in Oregon. Soon after, Art + Science branched out into cider. Dan Rinke and Kim Hamblin founded the small company and have an orchard featuring not only apples but also pears and quince in addition to making their biodynamic ciders.

Read more about this cool company on the website
: http://www.artandsciencenw.com/
The official description reads, “The apples (90% of the blend) and quince were foraged from friends, neighbors and strangers in the Oregon countryside. With no sugar or sulfur added, the cider is dry and tart, with a lively sparkle in its eye.” ABV6.5%.

Appearance: hazy, sunset orange, visible bubbles

Such an interesting appearance! I am not surprised to learn that this is a very natural cider as its both intensely colorful with a sunset orange tone and solidly cloudy.

Aromas: peach, pear, quince

This cider smells very fresh, immediate and fruity, with specific notes of pear, peach, and quince. Something about the nose of this cider tells me that this is going to be seriously tart.

Dryness/sweetness: dry

This cider comes across as dry but super fruity.

Flavors and drinking experience: rustic, tart, fresh, tropical

I like this funky, fruity, dry cider! It tastes tropical and just a little sour/acetic but mildly so. The natural fermentation shows with a fresh yet rustic character. When I say rustic, I do not mean barny; this cider is instead very fresh and wild. I’d even call it tangy in a citrus way. I don’t get much of a tannic presence from the West Valley Cider but the acid is powerful enough to make it feel like the cider is curing the insides of my ears and causing a salivary reaction! Whoa tart!

Overall, the West Valley Cider was a fun cider to have with gourmet grilled cheese and salad. It could also go with some fun pinxtos bites. I think the quince really pushes that tartness to an intense but really tasty level. I know fans of natural cider styles or sidra would absolutely adore it.


And we’re just over a month until GLINTCAP and Cider Week Grand Rapids! The Michigan Cider Association will be putting on the annual
Cider Week GR, happening May 13-19. The week will feature tap takeovers, cider tours, and Gillett Bridge Festival. Be sure to check out the website to learn more: https://www.experiencegr.com/cider-week/. I know I can’t wait!

If you want to submit your ciders to be judged at the world's largest cider competition- register your ciders here: http://glintcap.org/register/. You have until April 30th.