Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Cider Review: Sea Cider's Ruby Rose and South Hill Cider's Bluegrass Russet

As the weather gets warmer, people start planning more events and calendars fill up. Cider events are popping out like spring flowers. My busy calendar is no exception. This week brings circus rehearsals, a cider competition, and lots and lots of studying for the the Cider Certification Program’s Level 2 test. Wish me luck! Perhaps I should reserve this time next year just to stare and new green buds and flowers, but that might not be particularly realistic. I am determined to keep sharing reviews, so let’s get to it!

This week, I’m starting with another recent vacation pick: Sea Cider’s Ruby Rose.  

Sea Cider is a small Canadian cidery based on a farm on Vancouver Island. The cidery has operated since 2007. You can visit the cider house and taste a lineup of the company’s cider there. Part of the company identity comes from growing apples organically. For more background on the cidery, look to it’s first appearance on the blog.

I reviewed of Sea Cider’s Pippins cider previously: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/12/cider-review-sea-cider-farm-and.html

Here’s Ruby Rose’s official description,
A captivating semi-sweet cider infused with rhubarb, Ruby Rose is a beguiling vixen and part of our Canadian Invasion Series. She may be as aromatic as rhubarb pie, but her namesake is the merciless Rosa Rugosa, an invasive plant that threatens many coastal regions. Proceeds from our Canadian Invasion Series support efforts to combat invasive species in sensitive ecological areas. Ruby Rose pairs fabulously with light summertime meals and is perfect as a patio sipper. Consider sautéed prawns, a creamy brie, candied salmon salad and salty snacks.
Wow. That’s a 9.9%ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, salmon, no visible bubbles

This salmon colored cider looks like a springy beverage indeed. It’s totally brilliant and shows no visible bubbles.

Aromas: Pie cherries, hibiscus, rose, citrus, rhubarb

Luscious indeed! Ruby Rose smells mouth-wateringly of: cherries, hibiscus, and rhubarb. The most interesting aroma note that came to mind was crumbled rose petals on split and sugared grapefruit. I don’t get a ton of apple aromas; they are competing with other stronger smells. I think this will be a sweet cider and a tasty one. 

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

This is a decidedly sweet cider! The sweetness affects a few other characteristics, to learn more keep reading.

Flavors and drinking experience: burnt sugar, perfume, floral, rhubarb, rosehips, cinnamon.

This is a carousel of manic and exciting flavors.  The cider tastes like burnt sugar, rhubarb, rosehips and cinnamon. It reminds me of a well balanced floral perfume. 

Ruby Rose pairs very well with strong foods: Alex and I had it with spicy Mexican food and it manages to speak loud and clear. The cider has medium high acidity and medium tannins. Both are clearly present but pulling against the sugars. This is crucial for the cider to remain in balance. With so many flavor factors turned way up, and an ABV of 9.9%, I am grateful that the mouthfeel has presence and body. The cider offers only a mild sparkle. 

In terms of serving the Ruby Rose, it could double as a dessert cider. With it’s mouthfeel the higher ABV and sweetness, it’s certainly a beverage to sip and consider. The whole experience is boozy and warm: redolent of cherry and plum. 

South Hill Cider’s Bluegrass Russet

I’m a big fan of South Hill Ciders. This lineup is consistently apple-based and adventurous. Cidermaker Steve Selin has a young orchard in my own stomping ground of Ithaca, NY and also uses foraged, heirloom, crab, and cider specific apples all rrom the local environs.  

Most recently, I reviewed one from the limited release Prelude line, the Prelude 3: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/12/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-prelude.html

This was my #7 favorite cider of 2018

I included South Hill in my Finger Lakes Cider pairing dinner back in September of 2017: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html

A South Hill Cider was my top pic for 2016, the Stone Fence Farm: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-stone.html

Before then, I also enjoyed the 2014 Packbasket: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/04/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-2014.html

My first South Hill Cider  review for them was the hyper-limited Hypothesis: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html

You can visit South Hill Cider’s website to learn more about the process and all of the ciders: http://www.southhillcider.com/

And now for the Bluegrass Russet.

Bluegrass Russet‘s label introduces it as the following, “The Golden Russet apple was born in New York State in the early 1800s. Since then it has been prized for its excellent  flavor for cider as well as on the table. This cider exhibits the Golden Russet’s aroma with hints of lemongrass, apple blossoms and apple-skin, with very lively natural effervescence and a crisp finish. Pairings: rich cheeses, pork, and even with an herbed sorbet. Apple Varieties: Golden Russet, Northern Spy, Baldwin, Crabapple. 196 Cases. Batch 2016. ABV of 8.5%”  

Aromas: Minerals, apples, citrus and flowers

The Bluegrass Russet smells very tempting. I can smell minerals, apples, fresh flowers, and citrus.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

Though the label calls it off dry, this cider tastes sweet to me. The residual sugar is measured (according to the South Hill website) at 1.8%, so I don’t feel entirely off base to suggest that it doesn’t taste off dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, bubbly, lush, heavy mouthfeel

I had this cider with pesto pasta and sun-dried tomatoes. I’m glad I had some bold balancing flavors, because this cider brings a party on its own! I enjoy that the Bluegrass Russet is so very fruity. It tastes green yet tropical, like pineapple and kiwi. The cider is very bubbly: my favorite! It has acidity, tannins, bubbles, and higher ABV, making the whole experience lush, almost creamy with a decadently heavy mouthfeel. I enjoyed it very much!