Monday, April 17, 2023
Spring has burst into fullness with an unseasonable run of hot days. It’s disturbing to see temperatures in the high 80s in April, but it’s also amazing to see trees go from twiggy to budding and then blooming in so few days. It finally feels like the season has arrived to drink cider outside, and I couldn’t be happier about that.Today, I chose a cider that I picked out with some help from the cidermaker at the opening day of Ithaca’s Farmers’ Market.
This is Redbyrd Orchard Cyder's 2020 Biodynamic Cloudsplitter Extra Brut. This cidery is a delightful one in my region. I have several earlier reviews for Redbyrd Orchard Cyders. Many include more background on this awesome cidery. Here’s the list.
Tompkins King/Stoke Red (my #6 favorite cider of 2022): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2022/07/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html
Black is Gold (a collaboration with Black Diamond Cider and my #1 cider of 2021): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/11/cider-review-black-diamond-farm-and.html
Celeste Sur Lie 2015: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/10/redbyrd-orchard-ciders-celeste-sur-lie.html
Their presence at an all FLX pairing dinner: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html
The Dry Harvest Cider 2013: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-reddbyrd-2013-harvest-cider.html
The Wild Pippin (my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html
You can visit Redbyrd online to learn about all of the ciders and what’s happening at the cidery: https://redbyrdorchardcider.com/
Here’s information on the 2020 Biodynamic Cloudsplitter Extra Brut.
cherry, birch, vanilla, clementine
0.0% residual sugar
champagne style, disgorged in batches of 10 cases
2020 harvest disgorged 9/2022
Certified Biodynamic® by Demeter
porter's perfection, kingston black, liberty, golden russet, ashmead’s kernel, tompkins king, keepsake, nehou,
roxbury russet, dabinett, brown snout, wickson crab,
honeycrisp, goldrush, geneva crab, harry masters jersey,
somerset redstreak, zabergau, baldwin, golden hornet,
redfield, rubinette, zestar, browns’ apple, texas king crab,
NY75, redbyrd bitter, barn hill sharp, gnarled chapman
Grown, Fermented, and Bottled at Redbyrd Orchard.
19 cases produced
The cider has an ABV of 9.3%
Let me just note two things here. First, that’s a fabulous list of apples. Secondly, 19 cases is not a lot of cider! I feel lucky to have just one bottle!
Appearance: active bubbles, warm sandstone color, brilliant
The Cloudsplitter Extra Brut looks so inviting. The color is a warm and intense shade of orange that reminds me of sandstone. The bubbles are multitudinous and active. I can easily see through the cider, even with the bubbles, leading me to calling it brilliant in terms of clarity.
Aromas: applesauce, pears, straw, mellow overripe apple
I love how the Cloudsplitter smells immediately and vividly of applesauce. Ciders with this homey aroma start to win me over immediately. Secondarily, I get notes of pears and straw; it’s a mellow and welcome set of scents.
Dryness/sweetness: Dry, but fruity
This cider is dry, and it has to be dry because of how it is made. Nonetheless, it’s far more fruity than many ciders with a similar level of dryness. The fruit makes it tremendously enticing and friendly.
Flavors and drinking experience: overripe apple, apricot, high acid, high tannins, many bubbles, fruity and concentrated
The Cloudsplitter makes a big first impression with high acidity and also high tannins. The cider dances across my palate with lively miniscule bubbles. Again, I love how it manages to taste so fruity but completely dry. I’m reminded of homemade fruit leather in that all of the Cloudsplitter’s flavors are so concentrated. This cider is a dynamo of apple flavor. My co-taster really captured it when they said that this cider tastes specifically like many types of apple at once. Wow, yes. And on the finish, it’s tremendously elegant: apricots and a hint of honey.
We enjoyed this cider with a veggie fried rice and then beautiful locally created macarons. What a divine taste experience.
Monday, April 10, 2023
It’s sunny enough and and getting warmer each day, that I’m worrying about keeping my seedlings and house plants from getting scorched in the sunroom. I am amazed yet again by how quickly the seasonal shift can come.
One day, I’m still reaching for thick fluffy socks and hiding from the blustery winds and not long after I’m wearing shades and shedding layers. The surprises are energizing! And this week, I wanted to relish a memory from last summer’s trip to Angry Orchard’s R&D facility in Walden, New York. That means finally opening up my Angry Orchard's Margil.
Over the ten years of this blog, I’ve reviewed many offerings from Angry Orchard, including several from the Walden location. Here is an incomplete list.
Understood in Motion 2: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-critz-farms-double-vision.html
Understood in Motion 3: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-angry-orchard-ciders.html
And if you want more, just click on the Angry Orchard Tag on any of these posts, and you can find the rest.
I recommend visiting the Angry Orchard site to see the ciders and check out what’s happening at The Treehouse in Walden, New York: https://www.angryorchard.com/.
Here’s how the Margil is described on the Angry Orchard website.
This single varietal cider features only the Margil apple. With no added sugar, it is a bright off-dry offering with notes of pear and apple skin aromatics. 6.4% ABV.
And from the label itself, “An apple with mysterious origins dating back to 18th century England (or maybe France), the Margil has biome a favorite of ours in Walden for its texture and aroma. With no added sugar, this off-dry cider is bright, fresh, and gives lively pear and apple skin aromatics.”
And now for my tasting notes on Angry Orchard’s Margil Cider.
Appearance: brilliant, medium intense color, pale straw
This cider has gorgeous shining brilliant and a pale straw color. I can see a few bubbles at the ring of the glass.
Aromas: Stone, cotton, apple skin, vanilla
The Margil smells first of stone and cotton. Secondarily I get notes of cleanly-fermented fruit. It’s so different from most Angry Orchard ciders. It doesn’t smell like unfermented sweet fruits. I do get the impression of tart apple skin.
It’s interesting to isolate the sweetness in this cider. It doesn’t taste particularly sweet, but it must have some sweetness to round out the other elements that it has in such plentiful quantities without becoming severe. Read on to find out more.
Flavors and tasting experience: Very high tannins, medium-high acids, bright fruit notes, tiny bubbles
The Margil tastes sophisticated yet playful. The cider is lightly sparkling with fine bubbles and very high tannins, but they give way to bright fruitiness. The acidity feels medium-high with lots of citrus notes. The tannins keep coming back to make their presence known with every sip. Gosh, I like this!
There are hints of sweetness, but the cider is decidedly not sugary. What’s there feels like a neat deep sweetness from the apple’s essence itself and not the residual sugars. The Margil is wonderfully textural and evocative. This delightful cider makes me think of ripe oranges, vanilla, and pears with tropical fruit notes on the finish.
We had our bottle of Margil with a five-cheese pesto pizza and kale salad. The combination was wonderful because the cider helped me remain awake to the delightful contrasting textures of a soft pillowy crust, sharp curly kale leaves, and the melty cheeses. This has to be one of the tastiest ciders I've ever had from the crew at Angry Orchard. Delicious!
Monday, April 3, 2023
Right now, my brain is awake and thinking about colors, scents, and textures. I feel like some parts of me have been asleep all winter, and only just now want to rouse and seek out excitement. It’s not always a comfortable thing, certainly not when compared with the gentle hibernation of winter. At the same time, I’m ready for all parts of Spring, even if that means skunk smells, muddy walks, and the delicate hope that late frosts will not kill vulnerable plants and buds. I’m happy to have a super optimistic cider for it too; today I’m reviewing Schilling Cider House's Excelsior Spaceport Imperial Pineapple.
Here’s just a short excerpt from Schilling’s website introducing the cidery, “All our beverages are handcrafted in the Pacific Northwest. We use 100% fresh-pressed apples, locally sourced ingredients, and hand-selected yeast strains to create a cider experience that’s truly unique.”
This is only my 2nd-ever Schilling cider review! I reviewed the Schilling Spiced Cider back in 2015, so it’s been a while. You can find more background on this Seattle cidery and tap room in my first review.
Visit Schilling Hard Cider online to learn about the full lineup of ciders: https://schillingcider.com/cider-houses/seattle/
Here’s how Schilling describes the Excelsior Spaceport Imperial Pineapple
Pining for the perfect pairing, Excelsior Pineapple combines our passion-for-fruit with a tantalizing cosmic creation that makes its landing at 8.4% ABV.
Start your journey with its vibrant pineapple aroma and let it lead you to your first sip of this celestial cider! The combination of fresh-pressed Pacific Northwest apples, tart passion fruit, and juicy pineapple bursts with the tropical flavor of the getaway you’ve been daydreaming about.
And yes, you did read that right: 8.4% ABV in a can! I'm splitting mine, and there's no shame in that.
Appearance: deep saffron gold, high intensity, visible bubbles, slight haze
Deep saffron gold and visible bubbles decorate this ever-so-slightly hazy cider.
Aromas: Pineapple, tropical fruit, passionfruit
This smells very much like I expected from the combination of passionfruit and pineapple. The Spaceport’s aromas leap out of the glass with wonderful intensity!
The Spaceport is an emphatically sweet cider. There’s no denying it! This is a tasty fruity sweetness that surely comes from pineapple and passionfruit as well as apple.
Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, bubbly, fruity, pineapple
The pineapple dominates the drinking experience for Schilling’s Spaceport, which suits me fine as I love pineapple. It’s a powerfully fruity cider with loads of sweetness and plenty of acid as well.
The cider has lots of body, but the bubbles help keep it zesty and refreshing. This was a fun one to have with springy salads and dreams of sunny days to come.