Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Cider Review: Anxo Cidre Blanc & Aaron Burr's Homestead Locational Cider Summitville

Last week I was complaining about the heat and lack of rain. I still want rain, and it’s plenty warm out there, but I don’t feel like complaining. I see the signs around us that indicate that Summer will end. It feels too early to start finding them, but the color of the leaves is a deeper denser darker green. I run into spiderwebs when I walk in the late evening or early morning. Tomatoes are starting to be ripe around here, as are so many of my other summer favorites. Folks are moving into new apartments and houses. I feel more grateful for summer than I did a week ago, perhaps because I can see that it will not last forever.  

Both of this week’s cider reviews come from the same evening. I helped a friend move into a new apartment. It was a sweaty, intense day, but we got her moved in. Then we celebrated with cider and pizza.  

Anxo (pronounced roughly like an-cho) is not just a cidery, it’s a restaurant and a taproom in Washington DC too. And it’s the brand that woke me up to the astronomical potential of cider collaborations a few years ago. The people behind Anxo, Sam Fitz, Rachel Fitz and Cooper Sheehan, started the foray into cider by working with host cideries to produce collaborative ciders before the group had the production facility Anxo now operates. 

This nimble creativity emblematizes how I think of Anxo. It’s not just one thing. I’ve judged cider with Sam, and I enjoy hearing him talk about the ciders he tastes. (Full disclosure, Sam got me this can when we were judging together this spring.) And I love hearing visitors to Anxo tell me about the food and cider they’ve tried there. So I have been really excited to have my first sip of anything by Anxo.  

You can learn more about the cidery and the restaurant here: http://www.anxodc.com/

Official description page on the website: https://anxocider.com/cider/cidre-blanc/

I’ll pull this much from it, but there’s so much more to see including apple sourcing information (apples were grown in Pennsylvania and Virginia) and fermentation details. 
ABV 6.9%AROMA Peach, kiwi, pineapple, & white grape 
FLAVOR Bright acidity with a slight prickle of tannin, clean finish with hints of white grape and green apple. 
MOUTHFEEL Light bodied, crisp, & refreshing 

Appearance: lemon, cloudy, bubbly

This looks so refreshing! Something about it’s combination of cloudiness, bubbles, and cool lemon yellow just make me anticipate something extremely fresh, dry, and sharp. 

Aromas: farmy, yeasty, lemons

Ohh, this cider smells like its fermentation more than like fresh fruit. Mmm! I love that it smells bready (more sourdough than muffins), lemony, and farmy. 

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry!

The can is correct to call this a dry cider. It may have some fruit notes, particularly citrus, but this is a distinctly dry cider. 

Flavors and Drinking experience: Bubbly, citrus, astringent, high acid

I was not wrong to anticipate something dry and refreshing. This cider is both of those things. The Cidre Blanc tastes grainy and lemony with more bubble than I expect from a cider called petillant on the can. 

I enjoyed pairing this cider with pizza and relaxing, but I think it could be paired with lots of things. I’d pair it with grilled fish tacos and avocado slices next time! And someday, I want to drink Anxo cider while enjoying Pinxtos in DC at the restaurant!

Next up: My first Homestead Locational Cider by Aaron Burr: The Summitville 

If you care about artisanal cider in America, you’ve heard of Aaron Burr ciders. The cider is the labor of Andy Brennan in Wurtsboro, New York. The ciders are cult-classics in part because Andy has such passionate voice and challenging views on how to grow cider. I’ll just quote one sentence from the website and sent you to Andy’s book if you want to read more about his thoughts, “This focus is founded on the belief that early Americans drank history’s best cider.”  I’m sure that I don’t want to prioritize one time and one place as my holy grail of cider, but I won’t argue with the fact that Aaron Burr Cidery makes interesting ciders and has been for more than 14 years now.  

I only have one previous Aaron Burr Review, the Elderberry Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/01/cider-review-aaron-burrs-homestead.html

Visit the website: https://www.aaronburrcider.com/

Read more about Andy Brennan’s book Uncultivated: https://www.groworganicapples.com/booksmd.php#uncultivated

Summitville’s official description on the Aaron Burr website reads:

Summitville. Heavier liquid sediment with deep gold color. Aggressive bubbles, probably over carbonated but we’ll see. Maybe we’ll release it, maybe not. Nose is clean, maybe British. But tart. Starts tart but goes into sweet fruit. I detect grape notes—maybe concord?  Flashes of brightness come and go and tannin anchors the ending. Source: The slope up the east face of the central plateau, starting in the Hollow (Summitville) and going up to where it levels off. Very wooded area. 7.8% ABV

Appearance: hazy, copper, tiny bubbles

The Summitville looks more like an English farmhouse cider than many American ciders based on the haze and the rich coppery color. I can only see a few bubbles; those I see are quite small and stationary.

Aromas: overripe apples, minerals, dry soil

This cider smells like my garden right now, which is to say clean, dry, and powdery dirt with minerals. I also get lots of overripe apple character.  

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry

This is another dry cider. Its astringence and acidity enhance my perception of its dryness. 

Flavors and Drinking experience: soft tannins, mushy fruit, astringent

I agree with the description’s mention of the classic UK cider profile. The Summitville has many qualities in common with a funky, astringent, tannic UK cider. I enjoy the tannins and dryness that are part of this style, but I love that  it has firm acidity and plenty of bubbles too. The cider has a light body but finishes strong. 

This cider came after the pizza, so we paired it with putting our feet up after lots of work and watching a movie. I enjoyed it like that very much. I wouldn’t actually pair this with too complex a dish. The cider has enough going on in and of itself.