Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cider Review: Kaneb Orchards Hard Cider Flight at Otter Creek Winery in Alexandria Bay

What is special about cider in the summer for you? I want to think about that question for the next few weeks, while we are experiencing the long hot heights of Summer. My first answer is cider while travelling! I love to ask about local and regional ciders wherever I go. A couple of weeks ago, I made the time to travel to the Thousand Islands for a quick weekend away in a lovely place. I didn’t know what cider I would find there. 

To my surprise in our apple and cider intensive state,I had few cider opportunities than I would have liked. Hopefully though if people keep asking about cider, more places will carry local or regional ciders. My trip wasn’t entirely without cider though, I did get to try a Kaneb Orchards flight at the Otter Creek Winery in Alexandria Bay.

Kaneb Orchards is both a cidery and an orchard offering fresh and hard cider, cider donuts, and other farm and bakery goods. You can find them close to the Canadian border in Massena, New York.  

Visit Kaneb Orchards online to learn more: https://www.kaneborchards.com/

Here's the lineup!

Raquette River

Here’s what the company says about it’s driest cider, “Kaneb Orchards Raquette River Cider is a medium dry sparkling cider with a full body, apple notes up front, and a dry finish. A smooth and hardy taste that is more like a trandional hard cider. Made from hand picked apples. Handcrafted at our Cidery in Northern New York. Naturally gluten free. Carbonated. Enjoy!” I found the ABV listed in various places online as either 4.8% or 5%.

The Raquette River offered up aromas of ripe apples, pastry, and fresh mild cheese. Though the description lists this as a medium dry cider, I found it semi-sweet. This cider practically danced with notes of white grape and apple flavor. Secondarily, I got notes of tropical fruit, mostly pineapple. Upon repeated sips,  lots of pear flesh flavors emerge. Overall, the cider is very fruit forward with medium acidity and no tannins. I like how full bodied and clean it tastes. This cider isn’t funky but neither is it simple. 

St. Lawrence 

Kaneb Orchards introduces it saying, “St. Lawrence Cider is a clear, crisp medium sweet sparkling cider with full apple flavor. Hand picked apples from our orchard are pressed and bottled in small batches at our Cidery in Northern New York near the St. Lawrence River. Product is naturally gluten free. Enjoy!”

To me, the St. Lawrence cider smells pleasantly of wood, homemade applesauce, with a bit of pie spices. This cider tastes sweet, friendly, and bubbly. This is another cider that shows off a very clean fermentation. The St. Lawrence offers medium high acid and crystalline sweetness but no tannins. Notes of blackberries and jam round out the experience.

Cranberry Crisp

The company describes it’s first fruit-blended cider with, “Kaneb Orchards Cranberry Crisp Cider is a blend of our medium sweet cider and a splash of 100% cranberry juice from berries locally grown and pressed at our Cdery. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and sour that makes this a delightfully refreshing drink. Made from hand picked apples. Hand crafted at our Cidery in Northern New York. Sparkling. Naturally gluten free. Enjoy!”

The Cranberry Crisp smells decidedly different than the previous two ciders! This one smells a bit wild, funky, and nutty. The levels of aroma intensity aren’t particularly high.
This cider tastes very sweet, but the cranberry tartness sneaks up just in time to make it something a bit more than it could be. I appreciate the high but not extreme acid and the gentle presence of tannins from the cranberry. As our tasting room guide showed us, the Cranberry Crisp is good for cider mixer with something dry. She blended it with a local Pinot Grigio to fun effect.

Grasse River Still

Our guide introduced this as a semi-sweet apple wine, but this is how the producer describes it, “Kaneb Orchards Grasse River Still Cider is a medium dry non carbonated cider with great apple notes. It’s like floating on the Grasse River on a calm, still afternoon. Made from hand picked apples from our orchard and crafted at our cider in Northern New York. Naturally gluten free. Enjoy!”

The Grasse River still smells like limestone, white flowers, and honey. I anticipate some sweetness based on that set of aromas, but I’ve been proven wrong before. The taste comes across as sweet, with prominent notes of  honey and apple. This still cider is very floral, low in acidity, with no tannins. The mouthfeel is very thick and creamy. The finish lingerings with the same honey and vanilla from the mid palate. I think our tasting room guide was absolutely correct in that this cider presents a bit like an apple wine or dessert cider profile. You could pair with something complex yet light like sushi.

I was thrilled to get to try new ciders from a relatively unexplored region. These are crowd pleasers, and I bet they do very well. Check back in for another facet of enjoying cider in Summer!