Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Cider Review Very Perry May with Woodchuck Bubbly Pearsecco & Sandford Orchards Straw & Oak

Happy May, Cider Lovers! It has become something of a tradition for me to share my perry reviews in a series called Very Perry May every year. I don’t find as many perries or pear ciders as I’d like, so finding a new one is always a treat. 

For any who don’t know, Perry is the beverage made from fermented pear juice. Here are a few of the most delicious or unusual from my last two years of Very Perry May.

Tieton Ciderworks Tieton Cider Works Sparkling Perry, Stem Ciders Perry

Two Towns Pearadise: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-2-towns-ciderhouses.html

And an international perry roundup with Argus, Viuda De Angelon, Cidrerie Daufresne:

And I cannot mention perry without thinking about Oriole Perry by AeppelTreow’s Orchard Oriole Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-aeppeltreows-orchard.html

This year I’m starting with a Woodchuck Cider’s Bubbly Pearsecco. This is a pear and apple blend rather than a perry. I want to distinguish between them, but include both this month. There’s a fair bit of crossover with the two terms, but the label on this cider does make the inclusion of apples clear. 

Woodchuck’s Bubbly Pearsecco variety is a dry, bubbly pear cider with a crisp clean finish, taking inspiration from sparkling wine, which is also experiencing exceptional growth. Both Bubbly Rosé and Bubbly Pearsecco have an ABV of 6.1%.

“So often when you speak to people unfamiliar with the cider category there is a lot of confusion about how cider is made and what it tastes like.” said Bridget Blacklock, Vice President of Marketing. “We believe by introducing ciders that have similar profiles to wine and deliver drier taste characteristics we can expand the consumer cider experience and showcase hard ciders’ ability to offer varieties to fit every drinkers palette.”

Learn more about all of Woodchuck’s ciders here: http://www.woodchuck.com/

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, bubbly

This pear cider looks like spring honey or pale straw. It’s a gentle hue that shows off the ciders brilliant clarity and plentiful bubbles

Aromas: Vanilla yogurt, white flowers, mild cheese, pear

Though the aromas aren’t particularly strong, they are all springy and pleasant. I get notes of creaminess like a vanilla yogurt, mild white cheese, and pear. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

I didn’t expect it to taste dry. Pears have sorbitol: a non-fermentable sugar. But Woodchuck as a producer tends to stick to the sweeter cider, even in the ciders listed or described as being closer to dry. 

Flavors and drinking experience: Lots of sparkle, bright acidity, light pear and apple flavors

This pear cider is  strongly bubbly; that’s something I like about it a lot! The Pearsecco offers up light fresh pear and apple flavors. It’s  semi sweet and relatively well balanced with it’s medium-high acidity but no tannins. The overall impression is bright and pleasant. The light mouthfeel is zippy and fresh. 

And for my cider review of the week, I’m excited to finally crack open my bottle of Sandford Orchards’ Straw & Oak. This United Kingdom cidery is based in Devon. This is my first review of anything by Sandford Orchards. 

Visit the cider company online: https://www.sandfordorchards.co.uk/

Here’s how the cider is described online: “An amazing insight into how Devon cider would have tasted in bygone centuries. Straw pressed on a traditional single screw press and fermented to dryness, resulting in crisp cider with great structure and pure apple and citrus flavours.” Other facts are given like a Specific Gravity of 1.000, 6.7% ABV, and apple varieties including Northwood, Brown’s Apple, Kirton Fair, and Ellis Bitter.

Appearance: transparent, rusty, scant bubble

This is a totally transparent cider with just a few bubbles hanging around. I’m so tempted by what I see in it’s color. The rusty shade is almost reddish. I often associate strongly colorful ciders with more tannic presence, so I’m hopeful.

Aromas: hay, overripe apples, tin and tea,  

Oh yum. This cider smells so characteristic of English cider making traditions. There’s a hint of slight sourness (smells lactic, not acetic), but more than that I smell hay and ridiculously soft apples mushing into sauce. The gentle tones hum in the background of tin and tea. It just smells so good, like sun on dried grass. 

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider with lots of tannins, whoa!

Flavors and drinking experience: tannic, medium acidity, twiggy, medium bubbles

I know what want to say first about how the Straw and Oak tastes: tannins ahoy! This cider is decidedly dry and tannic, with medium acidity. The first notes are overripe apples and red grape skins. The cider is almost brutally refreshing—partly due to a pleasant and complex finish that comes a full second after each swallow.  I also taste tropical fruit, torched pineapple. The astringence has persimmon-like effects.  

I do taste both elements in the name: oak and straw. The oak comes across like twigs and tea; it’s lightly oaked but still woody. The straw is because the juice was pressed through wheat and barley—and you can smell the wheat in the cider’s aroma, and taste the barley.  The cider has a medium level of sparkle and hearty body. I loved it.

And one last link before the end of this week’s reviews. I’d like to point folks to the best thing I’ve read in the wider cider world lately. Malus Zine is a thoughtful and critical zine dedicated to cider. In the most recent issue, Olivia Maki challenges all of us to think about how cider deals with the past. It’s called “Whose Heritage?”: https://www.maluszine.com/essays/whose-heritage