A Sampling of European Ciders

April 11, 2017 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Crystal City Wine Shop
220 20th St S
Arlington, VA 22202

The American craft cider scene has been exploding for awhile now! It is the most American of the craft beverages, with the horticultural evangelist John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) using apples to tame the frontier of our great nation. Yet, apple cider has long and twisted roots in the Old World, with distinct styles from each of the cider producing European nations (and, within them, great regional variation). For example, in the UK, there is cloudy and unfiltered cider, called scrumpy from the West Country; Protected Geographical Indication Ciders from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire; Welsh seidr; Channel Island Ciders from Guernsey and Jersey, both made from heritage varieties; and that doesn’t get into the differences between cider, pear cider, and perry!

The Ciders:

  • Mayador Sidra Natural 2014: From one of the oldest producers in the Asturian region, the family behind these bottles have been making sidras since 1939. It is produced in the traditional style: fermented in chestnut barrels and unfiltered, resulting as a still (aka natural) cider with harmoniously dry and sour flavors. It won a Gold Medal, Best in Class/Highly Commended at GLINTCAP last year, which is like winning the World Cup for ciders. It delivers a cloudy golden yellow cider with no head and an aroma that is fresh and fragile with hints of blossoms, citrus, and grass. Lightly sour, with nice apple notes and touches of those citrus notes on the palate, this is a very refreshing drink. Perfect with cheese, will cut the fat of a rich cheese or echo the tartness of a fresh goat cheese.
  • Dunkertons Dry Organic Cider: Dunkertons history reaches back to 1980 when Ivor and Susie Dunkerton made the decision to escape London and buy a small holding in Herefordshire. Their vision was to turn the land into a viable business opportunity and they soon realized that cider production was the solution. The unique blending method uses traditional varieties of organic cider apples and pears grown on estate owned orchards. Containing Brown Snout, Sheeps Nose, Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, and Yarlington Mill, these are varieties that are ancient and are known to make great cider. Moderately strong aromas of toffee and hints of farmhouse/blue cheese character as a background. The palate bring tannins from the bittersweets to the fore with freshly picked apples, honey, and wisps of smoke playing strong support. A full-bodied cider with strong carbonation that gives way to sharp dryness. Try this with charcuterie, hard cheeses, quiche, or bangers & mash!
  • Domaine de la Minotiere Fermier Brut Cidre Organic: Domaine de la Minotiere is a small 15 hectare domaine of cider orchards cultivated under 100% organic certification producing traditional farmhouse ciders in dry (Brut) and sweet (Doux) styles. Their orchards, located in the “Golden Triangle,” contain a variety of traditional French cider apples, including Binet rouge, Bisquet, Noel des champs, Clos renaux, Petit jaune, Peau de chien. These apples produce fruits (and, subsequently, ciders) unlike those produced by many American craft cideries, especially those using dessert apples. The apples are manually sorted and pressed in the traditional Normady way, “presse à paquet.” This cider has a crisp, fresh, apple bouquet with mix of citrus peel and mustiness. It also has notes of stone fruit, apricot, and citrus. It would work wonderfully as an aperitif, as an accompaniment to white meats, fish, or soft cheeses. Plus, this cider will keep up to two years in good storage conditions.
  • Le Brun Organic Cidre: Le Brun Cidres have been produced in Brittany, France since 1955. Cidres are made using the traditional method of natural fermentation of pure pressed juices from handpicked apples. The cidery selects superior quality apples (Kermerrien, Marie Ménard, Douce Moên, Peau de Chien, Douce Coëtligné). The apples handpicked to prevent any damage. They are collected and aged in special wooden cases for about 3 weeks to enable the fruit to slightly dehydrate and concentrate its aromas. The apples are then mashed and rest again to help balance the taste profile of the final cider. The mash is pressed and the juice is stored in a temperature controlled fermentation tank, where fermentation is carried out naturally. It is carried out in an enclosed environment to enable carbon dioxide to dissolve into the cider. The cider is then bottled with their traditional cork and wire-cap. These ciders are non-pasteurized in order to fully keep their taste profile. This cider is lightly sweet and fruity but it has tannins, acid, and a hint of wood that will dry out the palate towards the end. It won a Bronze medal at GLINTCAP in 2016. It is a little juicy, but has a nice depth of character to keep you coming back for more. This demi-sec will pair great with grilled fish, venison stew, or strong ripe cheeses. Also, this is the cider to use in traditional French recipes that call to be finished with a dash of cider!
This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.