Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Cider Review: Wayside Cider's The Underhill

We’ve almost arrived at the most fickle and longed for season of the year. Yes, I know die hard Autumn fans, and for a very long time it was my undisputed favorite as well. I think I took Spring for granted growing up in rural Kentucky. It was lovely, blossoming and green every year. Now that I live in upstate New York, spring can be six weeks of wonder or it can be a bonus blizzard in April three days before temperatures hit the 70s. I anticipate Spring for weeks, enjoying all the little previews that last for 20 minutes or a couple of days. Even the muddy messy gritty parts of Spring feel precious. And they are almost here.

To celebrate the impending arrival of this capricious season, I opened up a cider from a company I don’t see very often. This is my very first review of a Wayside Cider! Folks from the cidery were kind enough to share a couple of bottles with me for review, and this is the first of them: Wayside Cider’s The Underhill!

Reading about Wayside online paints a rollicking and very land-focused identity. The cidery is based out of the Catskills in New York; it has operated since 2014. Irene Hussey and Alex Wilson founded this small cidery out of a garage (the first home for many a cidery). The company focuses on using American apples often heirloom varietals or foraged fruit. I first encountered Wayside Cider at the Gathering of the Farm Cideries in Albany, but someday (post pandemic) I hope to make it to the tasting room!

You can check out everything that’s going on for Wayside Cider on the website:  http://www.waysidecider.com/

Here’s the official description for The Underhill.

"The Underhill Sparkling Cider is a blend of cider apples from the Fingerlakes. With floral and herbal notes of meyer lemon, tarragon, and a distinct minerality. Serve Chilled. Made & bottled by Wayside Cider in Delhi, New York. Bottle Conditioned Naturally Sparkling and Unfiltered. Alcohol 7.5% by volume.”  

The first thing that I noticed about The Underhill is the incredible design. The label and the bottle shape just help me to expect something elegant and modern yet rustic. Good design is such a treat.

Appearance: intense, lemon curd, cloudy 

This cider poured very differently from the first bit of the bottle to the last. It started transparent but ended up quite cloudy. That’s how unfiltered sparkling ciders usually go. The color reminded me of lemon curd with it’s shade of mellow rich yellow and delectable intensity.

Aromas: Mango, pineapple, minerals, sourness and nuts

I love being surprised by a cider at any stage, and these aromas did surprise me. The cider’s description led me to expect something more austere, but my first impressions of the Underhill were its tropical fruit notes like mango and pineapple. I did get some minerality and sourness, but the fruit was more prominent. I also found a surprising nutty note.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider with a massively different profile. This is a dry cider that will wake you up! Keep reading to find out more.

Flavors and drinking experience: very tannic, apricot, medium acidity, astringent

Okay, I promised to explain the unusual profile on this cider. Yes, it’s dry, but it’s tannins are just ferocious! The Underhill has only medium acidity, but between that, the dryness and its very tannic bite, the cider feels and tastes austere. It’s demanding but also rewarding. 

The cider is tight and angular, but not totally without fruit notes. I can taste apricot and pear but fruit isn’t the dominant element. I just keep being shocked by the astringence. The other flavor note that surprises me is note that reminds me of almonds and cherry blossoms at the same time.

Somehow the overall impression is one of wildness. I served it chilled but the cider somehow conveyed greater coldness than just its actual temperature.

Then I paired it with spicy ginger cookies. Zing! Wow! Ginger brings out some previously hidden citrus in the cider. I love it this way. What a fun pairing.