Cider can be so much more than a beverage: tasted for a moment and then forgotten. Cider can make a meal, a memory, or a memorial of the harvest from which it came. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to see all of these possibilities come together in a Brooklyn night time garden with just a few friends and loved ones. Here’s how it all came together over Wild Arc Farm’s Cider! at Pheasant.
First, a bit of background about Wild Arc Farm. Todd Cavallo & Crystal Cornish founded this small farm in New York’s Hudson valley. On the website, it’s described as, “An experiment in regenerative permaculture and viticulture in the Hudson Valley. Wild Arc Farm is a pursuit of sustainable food and beverage production within the small farm environment.” This is my first ever review of anything by Wild Arc Farm. It looks like they make more wines than ciders, and everything is made in small quantities.
You can see some views of the farm and see where Wild Arc Farm beverages are found at the website: https://www.wildarcfarm.com/
And if you’re curious about the meal (which you should be), I recommend checking out Pheasant for yourself: https://www.pheasantnyc.com/. Everything we tasted was amazing, and the staff took wonderful care of us.
Here’s how Wild Arc Describes the Cider:
A pear and apple blended cider. Northern Spy apples from coming from Ontario county in northern New York state and the Callery pears from the Wild Arc Farm itself. Wild yeast fermentation, not filtered or fined and aged in neutral barrel prior to being canned with a sparkling finish. Crisp, dry and pleasantly summery.
Wild Arc Farm Description
Todd on this bev: “We have a number of Callery Pear trees on our farm and have always wanted to do something with the tiny, tart, tannin-packed fruits.”
Fruit: Northern Spy from an IPM-farmed orchard in Ontario County, North Fork + Callery Pears from Todd’s own farm
Making of: a couple of buckets of pears were macerated in the cider, then racked into neutral French oak 500L puncheons and left undisturbed for 6 months before canning.
We got to sit outside in the newly cool evening in a golden back garden surrounded by plants. Now, here’s how it tasted and paired with my evening.
Appearance: hazy, lemon curd, bubbles
I love freeing cider from a can, so I can really see and smell my cider before trying it. The Cider! was rewarding to see with its hazy lemon curd color and active bubbles. Seeing it increased my anticipation.
Aromas: minerals, melon, lemon and apple blossom
Wild Arc’s cider’ brings minerals to mind immediately as its primary aroma note. Secondarily I smell melon, summer fruits, and lemon. I get a spritz of apple blossom as well. One of my co-tasters noticed mild funk surrounded by clean mineral austerity.
There was some friendly debate at our table about the dryness of this cider. Primarily it tastes dry, but it’s not completely dry. Pears have a kind of sweetness (sorbitol) that can never be fermented out, so that makes it just a bit tricky. The cider’s tannins and acidity will also affect how we interpret its sweetness. I think it tastes semi-dry, but the Tall One found it closer to semi-sweet.
Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, medium tannins, plentiful bubbles
We agreed around our table that the cider tastes not overly Perry-esque. There’s not a ton of sorbitol or horse hoof which are both relatively common flavors for perry. The apple pear blend integrated really nicely. The whole experience is balanced and semi-dry with high but not insane acidity and medium tannins. The pears add a richness and roundness to the whole experience.
The cider is made tremendously food-friendly with its strong sparkle. I could taste my crispy fried Delicata squash, sip my cider, and then be ready to switch to heirloom tomato salad or white wine shrimp with a clean palate. The cider finishes out with a clean clean finish that matches its aromas and flavors. I agree with the makers that the overall impression is summery. And that was key to my experience this past weekend.
There’s nothing more summer and special than a long leisurely dinner under string lights that lets the talking stretch until late. The season has to be at that comfortable time when one can be outside and just forget about temperature altogether. I could focus on sharing bites of bitter peppers and creamy burrata or getting a perfect bit of jammy egg and sips of my ultra-refreshing cider. Even more importantly, I could dive deep into sharing stories and connection with my people. Isn’t it nice to do that with something delicious? I treasure it.
I can’t leave this week without sharing a bit of news. I’m now officially a Pommelier! I passed my Certified Pommelier exam. It’s a tremendous honor to be one of the 45 current Pommeliers, and I can’t wait to see where this road leads.
Check out the full story from the American Cider Association: https://ciderassociation.org/third-exam-of-2022-welcomes-eight-new-certified-pommeliers