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.