Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Cider Review: Kite and String's Rosé '17 and Awestuck Premium Hard Cider Dry Apple + Oak

Today, I want to share a fun and unusual set of cider notes. This past Thursday, as part of Finger Lakes Cider Week, I had a casual event at The Watershed (http://www.thewatershedithaca.com/) to take people through the basics of tasting cider. The bar had a number of New York State and Finger Lakes options, and it was an absolute pleasure to meet with new people, taste with old friends, and deepen some cider connections. Many thanks to everyone who came out! And much affection and appreciation to Ashley and Dave at the Watershed and Woody who helped put together and promote the event. 

This week’s reviews both come out of that event and the tasting notes are a collaboration of everyone who tried these two particular ciders. We used a cider flavor wheel and Cider Tasting Journals to help capture what we saw, smelled and tasted. If you don’t know these excellent tasting guides, I recommend checking them out online (https://www.33books.com/products/33-mugs-of-cider-golden-russet-special-edition). 

Thanks again, everyone! 

The first cider I’d like to share about today is Kite and String’s Rosé '17.

I've enjoyed quite a few Kite and String Ciders before. This is the house cider for Finger Lakes Cider House and winners of the first New York State Cider Competition (where I was a judge). If you check out old reviews, please don’t get confused if you see the cidery’s former name.

The Barrel Rye: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/12/cider-review-good-life-ciders-barrel-rye.html

The Cazenovia: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-good-life-ciders-cazenovia.html

The King of Hector:

I've enjoyed the Hickok at a few special dinners including:

Thanksgiving 2016: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/happy-to-pickcider-for-thanksgiving.html

And my oft-cited Finger Lakes Locavore Birthday Dinner:  

Read about both the Finger Lakes Cider House and Kite and String Cider on the website: http://www.fingerlakesciderhouse.com

Here’s house Kite and String describe the Rosé '17.
Semi Sweet, Method Charmat.
This delightful apple-grape wine blends high-acid cider apples with vinifera grapes. Strong aromatics of strawberry and lilac, combine with luscious berry notes on the palate, followed by a round creamy finish. 8.2%ABV
What’s fascinating is that all of Kite and String’s cider’s have a tech sheet with additional details as well. The apples included in this cider are Newtown Pippin, Baldwin, Liberty, and McIntosh. Here’s the cider maker’s note about this one. 
A Finger Lakes collaboration, our Rosé is a mix of sharp, high-acid, lateseason apples blended with 18% fresh Riesling juice grown by Hosmervineyards (Ovid, NY), and 10% Marechal Foch (French hybrid varietal)red grape wine produced at Swedish Hill Vineyards (Romulus, NY). Thesecondary fermentation takes place in a closed pressurized tank that isthen bottled at four volumes of carbonation pressure.

Appearance: brilliant, gentle coral, no visible bubbles

This is a very appealing shade of coral pink. It’s warm but gentle and reminds me of the blush on many apple skins. The cider is brilliant with no visible bubbles. 

Aromas: Raisins, limestone, peach

This cider smells wonderful when first poured, but it only improves as it warms up after a few moments. The aromas of peach, raisins, and limestone all intensify. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

I think Kite and String is entirely correct to call this cider a semi-sweet. The flavors are definitely impacted by it’s sweetness. The cider’s acidity does not alter or disguise that, but the sweetness is a profoundly fruity and pleasant sweetness. Because of that, I’d not choose to cellar this cider, but rather drink it now. 

Flavors and drinking experience: earthy, cherry, tart, stone fruit. 

For everyone who tried the Rosé, it was a favorite. Dry and sweet drinkers alike could agree on it. There’s a reason this cider appears frequently on the Watershed’s menu of ciders by the glass. The acidity and fruitiness work together beautifully. The sweetness adds heft and body that many ciders don’t have to offer. The fruits that comes across most strongly on the palate are cherry and peach, but there are other notes of apple and tropical fruit as well. It’s finish is rolling and pleasant. I’ll go ahead and nominate this one for future family get togethers.

The other review I’d like to share from the night is: Awestuck Premium Hard Cider Dry Apple + Oak. This cidery is based in Sidney, New York. The company has been producing cider since 2014 (Happy 5 years!), and I see folks from Awestruck at the Gathering of the Farm Cideries each year in Albany. 

You can visit Awestruck Ciders online: https://www.awestruckciders.com/

Last year, I Tried the Hometown Homicider: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/10/cider-reviews-woodchuck-ciders-bubbly.html

I reviewed the Hibiscus Ginger by Awestruck back in 2015: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/10/cider-review-awestruck-premium-hard.html

Here’s how Awestruck introduces the Dry Apple + Oak.
A Traditional, Artisanal Cider
6.8% ABV
Our Dry Apple + Oak cider is our constant companion. A loyal friend and ally. It pairs exceedingly well with meals, with evening galas, and with laid-back afternoons. Made from a seasonal blend of 100% fresh-pressed New York Apples, we very lightly oak this cider for a hint of toastiness and astringency. The first sip is smooth and dry then subtle flavors build and blend, growing the enjoyment sip after sip.

Appearance: brilliant, apricot, saffron, few visible bubbles

What a warm hue of yellow-orange. This was a great cider to dissect in terms of color because we have certain associations with a deeper color for cider. It’s often associated either with cider specific apples or barrel aging. Since this cider mentions oak, that’s in line with our expectations.

Aromas: baking spice, woodiness, sarsaparilla, cooked apples

This cider smells more like baked and spiced apples than I expected. The smells also reminded several folks of root beer with a sarsaparilla note. I do smell some woodiness and tropical notes like pineapple as well. 

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This is not a dry cider. This is a sweet cider. One person said of the sweetness that it tasted cooked like the sugar in a baked dish.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, herbal, mulled, sweet

The Dry Apple + Oak has lots of acidity to offer. That’s what most tasters noticed first, one person going so far as to say that the acidity washing over their tongue with each sip was the predominant experience drinking the cider. Another taster noticed not only acidity but that it reminded them of seasonal fall ciders which often use mulling spices. I agree that the cider’s brown sugar, clove, and cinnamon notes go beyond any associations with barrels and into the realm of baking spices. The Dry Apple + Oak also brings a lot of body to the glass. It’s a rich, ripe, heavy cider. The mouthfeel is far more like cream than like water. 

My favorite thing about this cider was it’s finish. It wasn’t a long finish, but it reminded my of oatmeal with a clean, warm, graininess that’s only slightly sweet. 

All in all, it was a great night to learn more about cider and to enjoy tasting together.