Hey cider fans! I’m so excited for Finger Lakes Cider Week! It’s coming right up, so I thought I’d put our one last reminder for a few of the awesome events that I’ll be supporting this year.
Events where you can find me:
9/26, Not Far From the Tree: An Evening Celebrating Apples & Cider- https://www.facebook.com/events/2322642131307274/
Autumn Shosteck of Eve’s Cidery and Steve Selin of South Hill Cider with both be joining me talking about orchards, apples, ciders, and food pairings. This is an evening packed with cider education plus local farm-to-table dishes and ciders at Coltivare. Tickets are $50.
9/28, Jason Wilson & Meredith Collins | The Cider Revival
I’m stoked to interview Jason Wilson about his new book at Buffalo Street Books at 4pm this Saturday. Jason will read a few sections from his book: Cider Revival: Dispatches from the Orchard and you can taste samples by Grisamore Ciderworks. This event is totally free! You can always choose to support Grisamore Ciderworks or Jason and Buffalo St. Books, and I encourage you to do so!
10/3, Basics of Cider Tasting at The Watershed:
Next week at The Watershed (http://www.thewatershedithaca.com/) join me! Everyone is welcome to purchase a glass of cider from the expanded cider week selection. I’ll be in the back discussing the basics of cider tasting and geeking out! No entry fee, just buy some cider!
I want to keep the Finger Lakes celebration going this week by talking about the opening of South Hill Cider’s new tasting room!
I've previously reviewed a few ciders from South Hill Cider:
A newer Prelude #7:
Bluegrass Russet: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-sea-ciders-ruby-rose-and.html
Finger Lakes Cider pairing dinner: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html
My top cider of 2016, the Stone Fence Farm: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-stone.html
2014 Packbasket: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/04/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-2014.html
And my first review for them was the hyper-limited Hypothesis: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html
I made my way to South Hill Cider’s new tasting room on the second of two soft-opening afternoons. It was a race to make it up there after hours of my day job downtown, but I did! The setting is rural and lovely with breathtaking views and easy access to one of the area’s best waterfalls: Buttermilk Falls. Steve started the farm in 2014 after ordering a batch of cider-specific apple trees in 2012. And so much has happened in the cider world since that early investment!
The parking lot was full when I pulled in, but most folks were enjoying the outdoor area with glasses of cider and picnic tables. Steve found me and my dear friend Maria (of https://ciderwithmaria.com/) and volunteered to guide us through our tastings himself. She went with the Premium tasting and I chose the Classic South Hill Cider Tasting.
Here’s what I tasted!
We started with the Baldwin; it’s a new release. Here’s how South Hill describes it, “2018. New England single varietal. Fine bubble, mouth watering, long finish. 8.5%”
What I noticed first about it was the applesauce aroma. I am a total sucker for this particular scent, so I got very excited! This cider’s apples come from just two orchards. I loved how super dry, high acid, and super bubbly this cider tasted. It’s crisp and citrusy and may have been my new favorite.
The second cider in the flight was Russet Dabinett. The official description and tasting notes read, “Dry and Still. Complex. Featuring cider apple varieties indigenous to NY State and England. Golden Russet is native to New York and Dabinett from Somerset, England. Tasting Notes: Deep Honey color with a smooth mid-palate and a mineral and textured finish. Very long finish. Flavors of honeycomb, elderflower, lychee, sour plum, white pepper, papaya, ripe plum skin, subtle vanilla.” 8.1% ABV
This cider’s nose reminded me white wine, almost like a spicy Gewurztraminer. When I taste this cider, it’s more mellow than the aromas imply. Steve talked about how it is blended for structure with a different grouping of apples each year. The cider is dry but tastes off dry and just a little bit barrely.
We then moved on to Old-Time ‘17. Online descriptions say, “Off-dry. Naturally Sparkling. Predominantly from abandoned and wild homestead trees, reflecting the perfection of their diversity and age. The name Old-Time is a nod to both the cidermakers from past generations who produced ciders from these trees and to the style of music cidermaker Steve plays: American old-time music. Tasting Notes: Light gold. Soft rounded bubbles, notes of strawberry, grapefruit seed, butterscotch, musk.” 7.5% ABV
This cider is all about zesty acid in my book. I got more barrel character than from my previous two ciders. This one is definitely semi-dry with a residual sugar of 1.8% and a titratable acidity of 8.1 grams per litre. This cider is very approachable and easy; I’m sure it will be among the most popular at the tasting room.
Our next cider was the Bluegrass Russet ‘17. This cider is made from the same blend every year and fermented and aged in stainless steel. The description for this cider introduces it as, “Off-dry. This cider showcases the Golden Russet apple, a native apple to New York, historically prized for it's excellent flavor in cider and on the table. Custom fermentation and bottling using the Charmat method. Naturally Sparkling. Tasting Notes: Lively effervescence. Crisp. Peach, raspberry, beeswax.” 8.2% ABV
I got the most intense aromas yet when this cider was poured. Notes of concentrated fruitiness just wafted from the glass, primarily pineapple and pear. This has the same level of residual sugar as the previous cider but lower acidity and higher ABV. Those factors combine to make it taste both fuller and sweeter.
And we ended with one of my favorite things in the entirety of the cider world: pommeau. Steve poured the Pommeau ‘17. As South Hill’s website says, this is a “Port-style cider. An apple apertif/digestif from a blend of barrel-aged Apple Spirits (Eau de Vie) with unfermented and unfiltered apple cider. During months of aging, the pommeau naturally clarifies to an amber liquid of exquisite character. Still and sweet. Tasting Notes: Deep gold. Warming, rich and velvety. Aromas of honey and clove. Nutmeg, amaretto, sun-warmed plum.” ABV of 19%.
Based on Steve’s description of the process, it’s clear that this pommeau will change subtly year to year but slowly home in on a more and more consistent flavor profile. He uses a barrel blending method with many different vintages working to tempering the variance with those blends. The Pommeau smells simply heavenly: rich and buttery. Flavors are just silky smooth and velvety cooked apple, caramel biscuit, and butterscotch. The sweetness smoothes out the ABV and the ABV provides some backbone and fire to a sweet cider. It’s tension and balance working together perfectly!