Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Cider Review: Reisetbauer Qualitätsbrand's Apfelschaumwein Vom Kirchdorfergut

I get a small but consistent number of requests for more coverage of international ciders here. That’s something I’m happy to do by opportunity, and I was thrilled to have the excuse to drink a very hyped Austrian sparkling apple wine recently. The name Reisetbauer is more associated with spirits, mostly Eau de Vie and Gin, than with cider. Some folks wouldn’t even allow the word cider here; they would insist on calling it Apfelwein or apple wine. I’m not ready to wade into such a debate, but since it’s fermented apple juice, its certainly something I find worth covering!

This is my first inclusion of anything by Reisetbauer. The company is associated with the distiller Hans Reisetbauer, based in Austria. The company was founded in 1994, but its predated by the orchards planted for it in 1990. The small company’s spirits consistently win awards.

You can visit the website here and learn more about the company’s distilled spirits: https://www.reisetbauer.at/

Here’s how the Reisetbauer website describes the Sparkling Apple Wine.


The base for the sparkling wine is apple juice from the Kirchdorfergut of Hans Reisetbauer.

After producing the apple cider, it rests for 24 months on the yeast. This is the "Champagne Methode" or "Méthode traditionnelle". Instead of sugar, only the juice from the Jonagold apple is used for the "Dosage".

Because of its lower alcoholic volume of 7% the Reisetbauer sparkling apple wine is such a perfect summer drink and a high quality alternative to champagne.

"In the nose ripe apple notes, fine and elegant perlage. Fresh and spicy in the mouth, in the finish is the unique taste of the ripe Jonagold apple of the Kirchdorfergut."

Serve the Reisetbauer sparkling apple wine cool and in a big white wine glass.

And now for my notes!

Appearance: Brilliant, warm straw, medium intensity, few miniscule bubbles 

This is a lovely cider. I can see just a few of the tiniest bubbles. The color is a classic shade of warm straw with medium intensity. It poured with a disappearing head like champagne. 

Aromas: Dust, intense fruit notes, red grapes, cantaloupe, apricot,

The apple wine smells mostly of fruit, but there are mineral and dust notes floating around in the mix. The fruit notes come across intensely, almost as though they have been concentrated. I get aromas that remind me of red grapes, cantaloupe, and dried apricot.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is completely dry. It’s fruity and has big flavors, but the flavors do not come from sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: white flowers, light honey, tannic, funky

I found the Apfelschaumwein Vom Kirchdorfergut tasted complex and stimulating without being too challenging. It opens with notes of white flowers and light ethereal honey. It wasn’t just gentleness; this cider has a bit of fusel oil funk to it too. One note of bitterness slightly recalls red pepper. The flavors are so savory. This is wonderful!

I love that this beverage brought me all of the strong bubbles I was hoping for based on what I saw when it poured. The mouthfeel was drying with just a bit of cotton mouth astringence. The cider completes its experience with a long, gentle apple finish. 

I had this cider with some cheeses, homemade bread, and fruit shared with good friends. We enjoyed it all on my porch before the weather got too terribly warm. There’s not a lot I can imagine as more enjoyable than delightful company, good cider, and tasty cheese. This cider would work well with many pairings, but I don’t think you’d find a better one. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Cider review: Rootstock Ciderworks' 2020 Heritage Hard Cider

I can’t believe that the Summer Solstice has come and gone! I want to celebrate the day, because it's the official start to summer. The longest span of sunlight in the year feels like something to celebrate! To be honest, I find it an anxious day. I never feel ready by the solstice for the days to start getting shorter. Ask me again around August first, then I’ll feel ready for Solstice. But it just arrives too soon! That said, I was happy to celebrate with cider and a chat with Dan Pucci, Craig Cavallo, and Steve Selin (among others) about orcharding and cider. Nothing could have been more appropriate!

For today, I’m sharing a review of Rootstock Ciderworks' 2020 Heritage Hard Cider. 

Rootstock Ciderworks comes out of a fifth generation family farm just outside of Rochester, New York in Williamson. The DeFishers know apples well and only use them and yeast to make a wide range of ciders. Today, I’m reviewing the 2020 incarnation of Heritage, but if you want to learn more about Rootstock I recommend going back to some cidery info in prior reviews.

My Rootstock Ciderwork’s reviews are all listed below.

Ruby Mac: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/05/cider-review-rootstock-ciderworks-ruby.html

Legend Barrel Aged: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/01/cider-review-eden-specialty-ciders.html

Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/07/cider-review-shacksbury-dorset-and.html

Belgium: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-rootstock.html

Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-rootstock-ciderworks.html

You can check out all of Rootstock’s offerings at the website: https://www.rootstockciderworks.com/

Here’s how Rootstock describes the 2020 Heritage Hard Cider.

Made from heritage apples harvested in the 2020 growing season, this cider is a dual varietal cider consisting of Rhode Island Greening and Cortland Apples. This cider has notes of fresh peach, apricot, and rose petals with flavors of ripe pear and citrus fruit.

Alcohol 6.00%

I received this bottle of Heritage as a review sample from Luke at Rootstock! Thanks so much! I’m grateful for review bottles, but the gift does not sway my opinion about a cider nor guarantee coverage on the blog.  

Appearance: intense butter yellow, brilliant, bubbly

This cider looks like the essence of summertime to me! It's perfectly brilliant, dotted with shining small bubbles. The color looks like the most intense version of yellow butter. It's cheerful, sunny, and welcoming!

Aromas: Green apple, peach, nectarine, apple peelings, and pineapple 

What a basket of fruit I find in these aromas! I can smell green apples, which I associate with anticipating high levels of Malic acid. There’s also a strong presence of peach, nectarine, and pineapple. This will be a tart cider; I have no doubt. Thinking more about the green apple scent, it reminds me of peeling green apples for baking.

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry

This is straightforwardly a semi-dry cider! There’s tons of flavor and just a little burst of sweetness.

Flavors and Drinking experience: Green apple, cherry, nuttiness, high acidity

As I hoped and expected, Heritage brings lots of acid to the drinking experience. It’s not austere or punishingly sharp; the acidity is fruit and crisp! I love how lively the Heritage tastes.

This cider is nutty and fruity with pineapple and cherry notes. The Heritage lifts up the layers of flavor with strong bubbles. I’d describe the mouthfeel as medium light but very zesty. Each sip wraps up with a long perfumed finish.

I enjoyed this cider with friends and homemade pretzels on a long summer evening, and I’d heartily recommend exactly this pairing!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Cider Review: Eden Cider's Benjamin and Next Week's Free Zoom Cider Event

A couple of local friends and I get together regularly to work during the evening. We gather in a home after dinner and just slowly get quiet with laptops, notebooks, or craft projects. Dogs mill around the floor; tea is steeped and sipped; the host chooses some background music.  It may not sound like something amazing to write alongside other people who are writing, but it's wonderful. 

Since the long ago days of Dissertation Fridays, I’ve enjoyed taking my writing time alongside friends who also need to be keyboard tappers. This is a good way to get things done. When we’ve all reached a natural resting spot in our work, a bottle of cider, or some other tempting libation makes the rounds. That’s exactly how today’s cider got tasting notes. 

I opened a bottle of Eden Cider’s Benjamin, and I’m so happy to share what we thought.

First, here are my earlier reviews of Eden ciders.

Deep Cut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/08/cider-review-eden-specialty-ciders-deep.html

Peak Bloom: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/09/cider-review-eden-ciders-peak-bloom-and.html

Ezekiel: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/01/cider-review-eden-specialty-ciders.html

Extra Sec: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/03/cider-review-angry-orchard-super.html

Eden Heritage Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-eden-heritage-and.html

Siren Song: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-eden-ciders-siren-song-and.html

Brut Nature: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-con-2018-pt-1-eden-specialty.html

Imperial 11 Degree Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-january-2017-cidrbox-and-edens.html

Sparkling Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/06/cider-review-eden-sparkling-dry-cider.html

And in 2016 I made the Sparkling Dry part of my Thanksgiving and Birthday celebrations: 



Visit Eden Cider's website to learn about all of the ciders: https://www.edenciders.com/

Here’s all the info online that Eden provides for Benjamin.

NEW 100% Estate grown petillant naturel method sparkling cider from the 2020 harvest.

PROFILE: Brightly fruity, lightly sparkling

APPLE VARIETIES: Northern Spy, Golden Russet, Grimes Golden, Esopus Spitzenberg, Michelin, Ashmead’s Kernel, Baldwin, Rhode Island Greening, Egremont Russet, Stembridge Cluster, Blue Pearmain, Binet Rouge, Orleans Reinette, Calville Blanc, Rubinette


GROWN BY: Eden Orchards

METHOD: Spontaneous fermentation, bottled in process before finishing. Not disgorged, contains residual lees.

TASTING NOTES: tangerine, white roses and granite

PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: oysters, charcuterie, farro bowl

8% ABV | 0g residual sugar

750 ml | 12/case | 35 cases produced

Appearance: variable opacity, intense color, bronzed ginger

Pouring any Petillant Natural is fun because each glass looks just a bit different. Benjamin begins with intense color and near total clarity, but by the last glass we have substantial cloudiness. The color sings out even before the cider is poured; it strikes me as some shade between ginger and bronze, full of warmth and promise. The bubbles race up to make a crisp white head. 

Aromas: overripe apples, hay, strawberries, tea, spices

The Benjamin smells awesomely like overripe apples and sweet mellow hay. That’s absolutely the primary impression. Secondarily I get notes of tea, spices, and strawberries.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a solidly dry cider, and that’s exactly what it needs to be.

Flavors and drinking experience: Tannic, high acid, leather, limes, aged parmesan and more

I love a dry, bubbly cider with enough tannins and acidity to keep me excited. This cider offers exactly what I want. The Benjamin is very tart and tannic. I love its notes of leather, limes, hay, aged Parmesan, resin and apricot. There’s just so much going on here. It’s so good!

This complex cider rolls across my palate with great big flavors, but somehow it still leaves room for gentler suggestions. These more delicate notes whisper of lemon, buttery toast crumbs, and some warm roasty element. The flavors include both the restrained and the wild. In terms of mouthfeel, it's crisp and so so bubbly!

Eden Ciders is amazingly consistent; this cidery grows wonderful fruit and crafts beautiful ciders season after season. I’m so grateful.

I want to send out a reminder that next week on Monday evening, I’ll be interviewing Dan Pucci and Craig Cavallo about their new book: American Cider. Join us!

Find out more about the event here!


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Cider Review: Union Hill Cider Company's Pink Heart, Plus an upcoming Book Talk with Dan Pucci and Craig Cavallo!

Union Hill Cider Company is a Washington state cider company that began with two roommates making a closet cider back in 2012. I love that the cidery website is very clear that this first batch was inspiring of improvement rather than an instant classic. The first discovery was that in order to make special cider, the makers must start with special apples. There’s no arguing with that wisdom!

Andrew Handley, Matthew, and David Dobbins created this company after starting to plant cider-specific apple varieties! My favorite quote on the website comes from Gene Handley about the orchard.

We decided in 2016 to find old English and French bittersweet and bittersharp varieties to propagate and plant with the same high-density growing systems used in today’s modern orchards.  High-density, high-dwarfing rootstocks meet old heritage varieties with only one purpose, to grow apples only to press for hard cider. We planted Dabinett, Porters Perfection, Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, Muscat de Lense, Snowdrift Crab, and Red Fleshed apples.  We want to use apples with intention that complement each apple’s unique characteristics.  We want you to be able to identify each variety we use in each of our blends.

You can read all about Union Hill online here: https://www.unionhillciderco.com/

Today I’m writing about the Pink Heart. Here’s how Union Hill describes it. This cider came to me as part of the Northwest Cider Club, which continues to curate some truly tantalizing selections. Read about the club here: https://nwciderclub.com/.

Here's how Union Hill describes the Pink Heart.

A union of our Red Fleshed and Cripps Pink apples finished with Dabinett to round out the blend. This pink hued cider is our most versatile cider, fit for any occasion. Medium bodied with bright notes of red raspberry, rhubarb and grapefruit with a tart finish.

Appearance: peachy pink, brilliant, few visible bubbles

Union Hill knows that they made a beautiful cider, and I’m so glad that they chose a clear bottle for it. The color for the Pink Heart is a refreshingly peachy pink. A few bubbles show up as soon as this cider is poured. 

Aromas: marshmallows, hibiscus, vanilla, tangerine and red currants

The Pink Heart smells like marshmallows and hibiscus. There are other softener notes as well like vanilla, tangerine, and red currants. I get some ripe apple in the mix as well. 

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider. It's very flexible at this point in the dryness scale in terms of food pairings.

Flavors and drinking experience: very high acid, citrus, tannins, zinger tea

The Pink Heart shows off-the-charts acidity from the very first sip. I love how Union Hill has leaned into the acidity of pink-fleshed apples while taking advantage of tannic possibilities. It comes as no surprise that the acid puts me in mind of zesty citrus like Meyer lemons.  The red fruit and zinger tea notes are like currants and hibiscus with the grip of tannins.

I love how very bubbly this cider feels. It still manages to have a taut body and enough presence to not simply disappear the moment it has been consumed. The Pink Heart is tremendously pleasing. I served it with salmon burgers and sweet potato tots, but one could certainly pair this as casually as I did or dress it up with a pasta primavera or an asparagus and gouda frittata. 

Plus, I am so happy to share that I'll be participating in a talk and tasting with Dan Pucci and Craig Cavallo later this month! Those two wrote the exciting new book: American Cider! This book has been a long time coming, and it has gotten the whole cider world excited with its recent release!

Buffalo St. Books and South Hill Cider have put together this conversation so that folks can hear all about the new book and taste some ciders with its authors and myself.

I do hope you can join us, and if you do, please join us for the tasting portion as well. Here's the lineup of amazing South Hill Ciders that we'll feature throughout the conversation: https://www.southhillcider.com/american-cider-tasting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Cider Review: Portland Cider Company's Lemon-Lime Ciderade

We went from ninety-degree days cooking my plants to temperatures in the mid-fifties with rain and blustery breezes. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked; this is what Spring does. Nonetheless I’m feeling ready for gardening in shorts and sandals! In order to capture the Summer vibes, I had to break out the sunniest cider I have. I was able to bust out Portland Cider Company's Lemon Lime Ciderade

The awesome folks at Portland Cider Co were kind enough to share this new release with me.For a bit more about Portland Cider company you can check out all of my earlier reviews of Portland Cider Co.’s ciders.

Here’s the full list.

Crangerine: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/12/cider-review-portland-cider-companys.html

Razzberry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/06/cider-review-once-upon-tree-wild-flight.html

Peach Berry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/04/cider-review-portland-cider-companys.html

Kinda Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-portland-cider-company.html

Pineapple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-review-portland-cider-company.html

Cranberry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/03/cider-review-seed-stone-cidery-heritage.html

Pumpkin Spice: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/10/cider-review-portland-cider-co-pumpkin.html

Pineapple Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/07/cider-reviews-portland-cider-cos.html

Check out Portland Cider Company’s website to learn more about all of the ciders and happenings at the tasting room: https://www.portlandcider.com/home

Here’s what I can find out about the Lemon-Lime Ciderade from the Portland Cider Company website, starting with this description: “Rejuvenation & relaxation in a glass! Brightened by freshly squeezed lemons and limes and made with 100% NW apples, this refreshing light cider replenishes you with electrolytes.” The cider has 4% ABV, which makes me wonder exactly how it's made.

Here's the full description.


Northwest apples

Lemon zest & juice

Lime juice

Electrolytes from locally sourced sea salt from Jacobsen Sea Salt Company


Light, citrus, refreshing, tangy


lemon pepper grilled chicken, chipotle lime avocado salad, mozzarella cheese, Mediterranean salad. 

And now for my take on Portland Cider Co.’s Lemon-Lime Ciderade!

Appearance: transparent, few visible bubbles, cool moonglow

Though I expect that this cider is often meant to be crushed straight from the can, it looks lovely in a glass. The color reminds me of a yellow chiffon Petunia. (Don’t judge. Petunias are easy to grow and not toxic to pets.)

Aromas: powdered sugar, lemon, lime, peach, and green apple

The Ciderade smells fun and easy like powdered sugar, lemons, and limes. I also get notes of peaches and green apples. There's a little hint of cooked peanuts as well. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This cider tastes much less sweet than the smell led me to anticipate. It's semi-dry. I thought this would be sweeter, but I’m not at all sad that it’s not. I like semi-dry and dry ciders best, so this is a happy surprise.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, some astringence, full body, intense citrus

As one would expect in a citrus-blended cider, this has high acidity. I get something a bit astringent and grippy. Maybe from the lime or something about the level of citric acid? Though the cider has a lower ABV and sweetness level, it still managed to create a medium-full body. The overall effect is very zingy 

I enjoyed this with my first corn-on-the-cob of the year, broccoli slaw, and veggie chicken nuggets. It was fun and easy with this light summery food, but it would also be a fine quencher with salty snacks like popcorn and pretzels.