Monday, July 18, 2022

Cider Review: Redbyrd Orchard Cider's Tompkins King / Stoke Red

Finally, it rained. I don’t want to complain about all weather, but it’s been damagingly dry here. This rain could not be more welcome. It feels like the whole palette of the world has softened and cooled blue-gray. We’re not yet out of drought territory but I feel so grateful. I may even be willing to heat up my kitchen with some of the cooking I’ve been avoiding for days. We’ll see about that though. Today, I’m sharing my review of Redbyrd Orchard Cider's Tompkins King / Stoke Red.

Redbyrd Orchard cider comes to us from the Finger Lakes region of New York, AKA my neck of the woods. I know the cidery through Deva Maas and Eric Shatt: two anchors of the local cider community. They founded the cidery and steward its biodynamic orchard. Here’s just a bit more background about Redbyrd from the website, including their land acknowledgement and commitment to contributing to the Haudenosaunee. 

Redbyrd Orchard Cider is the combined work of the sun, the moon, the earth, the tides, and som specific animals, trees, and humans. We’re glad you are here.  Our small cidery and currently Certified Biodynamic managed orchards grow heirloom, wild seedling, and cider apples to make the best cider we possibly can and provide a space to connect with each other, the land, and the cosmos.

 Redbyrd Orchard is located in the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, on the traditional Gayogohó:no nation lands of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of New York state, and the United States of America.

In acknowledgment, a portion of sales from our orchard are contributed to Ganondagan.

My previous Redbyrd Orchard Cider reviews include:

Black is Gold (a collaboration with Black Diamond Cider):

Celeste Sur Lie 2015:

The Andromeda Crab:

Their presence at an all FLX pairing dinner:

The North Star:

The Starblossom:

The Dry Harvest Cider 2013:

The Wild Pippin (my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin):

It was an adventure to find the official description of this cider, but thanks to social media I did! Here’s what Redbyrd Orchard Cider has to say about the Tompkins King and Stoke Red. 

2021 Tompkins King/ Stoke Red

50% Tompkins King 50% Stoke Red

~notes of~ Toasted coconut, Honey Dew Melon, Black Pepper

Alcohol 7.5% Residual Sugar 0.0%

Pressed 10/14/21 Bottled 12/27/21

This is another blend of a North American Variety and one from Europe. Tompkins King is an old American heirloom variety that originated as a seedling from Warren county New Jersey and was brought to Tompkins County NY in 1804. Some of the first Tompkins King trees in New York were planted near Jacksonville which is 5 miles from our orchard!! Tompkins King has that classic antique apple flavor with spicy aromas of apple pie. It is a large apple with lots of juice and has always been a valuable component to hard cider in our region over the years. Tompkins King lacks those dense tannins so common in European cider apples so we blended it with Stoke Red. Stoke Red is from Somerset England dating back to the early 1900’s and is classified as a bitter sharp, containing both high levels of acid and tannin. This cider blends the fruity spicy aromatic characteristics of Tompkins King with acid and tannins from Stone Red. There is more acidity in this cider from both varieties which gives it a fresh and lively character.

Appearance: warm harvest orange, medium intensity, few visible bubbles

Because I was enjoying my cider outside at a restaurant, the glassware was fun and practical rather than designed for ultimate cider ogling. Still, the Tompkins King / Stoke Red is lovely. The color reminds of all the oranges of harvest season in a medium intensity. I could see some bubbles in my glass as well. 

Aromas: malic acid, twiggy, vanilla, sweet orange citrus 

Redbyrd Orchard Cider’s Tompkins King/Stoke Red starts with deep and powerful malic acid. Tree twigs. Creamy and vanilla. Sweet citrus: oranges.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider. Period. Deliciously, delightfully, dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, petillant, minerals, full mouthfeel

The Tompkins King/Stoke Red brings tension and intense flavors; the cider has both high acidity and high tannins with lots of austere minerality and zero sweetness. I appreciate the cider’s long finish: pointed and lingering. My glass had a relatively gentle level bubble, more petillant than sparkling. I’m never sure though when I get a glass of cider from an open bottle if the full presence of bubbles will be there. It’s a skillful blend of British bittersharp with American high acid; the tannins hit fast: tasty and textural. I appreciate that they don’t overpower, pulling back to allow the fruitiness of the cider to speak. 

I sampled this cider as part of a lovely outdoor meal at a new Ithaca restaurant: Lev Kitchen. I paired it with one of their Malawach wraps: Halloumi with strawberry jam, marcona almonds, and greens. It was remarkable! I loved having toothy tannins with the mosaic of textures in the wrap. It was an altogether yummy experience!