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Cider

New York Cider Co.’s The Naturist

I’m shocked that it’s taken me this long to review anything by New York Cider Co. My apologies, friends. New York Cider Company is a relatively new cidery based in Tompkins County, New York. This is my home turf, so I’ve been remiss here. I’ve tried a few by New York Cider Company, and I’ve found them consistently refreshing and interesting.

Here’s how the cidery folks describe their approach to cider making. I’ll let their words speak for themselves.

Yet, we, at New York Cider Company, appreciate the simplicity of traditional cider craft. We believe that much of the art of cider making involves helping nature, the best artist, doing the work itself. Often this means staying out of the way: Our apple trees, some more than 150 years old, are nurtured by little more than sun, rain, and maybe a sprinkle of compost. Our apples—whether we grow them ourselves, forage them from wild or abandoned trees we rescued near our farm in the New York Finger Lakes—are always interesting and picked at peak ripeness.

Similarly, our ciders are fermented naturally, without added yeast, whenever possible. “Wild” fermentations can be riskier; you never know how the natural yeasts will affect the final taste of a hard cider. To us, the rewards of wild fermentation are a worthwhile gamble. Each carboy, barrel, tank, or vat of cider truly takes on a life—and flavors—of its own. Yeast is alive, after all; Each strain has a different personality. Each hard cider is a separate conversation.

Blending is also key—and where the human touch can augment nature’s. We find that the sum is usually greater than the parts. Figuring out the tasiest combinations of separate fermentations, creating a beautiful, unified, refreshing drink, is fascinating and rewarding. It can be an art.

New York Cider Company’s artisanal approach extends to the way we bottle most of our ciders. Again, we like to let nature do the job—through bottle conditioning. The sediment that remains at the bottom of the bottle is a testament to our artisanal approach.

You can visit New York Cider Co online here: https://www.nyciderco.com/

If you’re in the Ithaca area, you can try New York Cider Company ciders at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. That’s a wonderful way to get to know these very local, usually wild ciders.

The Naturist was shared with me by the landowner who supplied the New York Cider Co. folks with these apples. Many thanks!

Here’s the official description for The Naturist.

NEW! AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY! LIMITED SUPPLY.

Did you hear the one about the nudist and the cider maker? Neither had we. So, when a customer walked up to us at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market a few years ago and said we should check out the old apple trees at his nudist colony, we weren’t quick to respond. Then, in 2020, our own trees bore scant fruit, and we scurried. Thanks to the kind folk at Empire Haven Nudist Park in Moravia, NY, located on the remnants of a large pre-Prohibition seedling cider orchard, this story gets even better: We now introduce NATURIST, a bracingly tart, full-bodied blend of the distinctive apples we gathered there, plus two early American cultivars, Golden Russet and Rhode Island Greening. Celebrate freedom! Enjoy cool.

Alcohol 8.20%

Appearance: medium color intensity, warm straw, hazy

The cider has a gently pearly haze. The color is a classic warm straw color with medium intensity.

Aromas: leather, overripe apples, green grapes, citrus and minerals

I’m charmed because the Naturist has so many delightful aromas! The Naturist smells like soft worn-in leather, overripe apple, green grape, citrus and minerals. Something about it is both salty and funky.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

The Naturist is an unapologetically dry cider. I appreciate how much is going on without any sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: hay, lime, bitter, high acid, bubbly

This cider has many scents, and its flavors are just as varied and enveloping. It tastes grassy; the cider reminds me of hay and green tea. The Naturist brings high acid with notes of lemon and lime. The whole cider is somehow both funky and fresh: dewy and bitter. The cider is alive with prickly bubbles and blocky tannins.

The Naturist is wonderfully bold; it takes the sipper on an experience. I appreciate that after the big adventures of flavor and texture, the cider ends cleanly with a pleasant aftertaste. Overall, it’s a wild interplay of austerity and citrus. I enjoyed it very much with a dinner of homemade fisher’s pie. The custardy base was rich enough to benefit from the cider’s high acidity. I’m glad it was a salty, creamy, rich dish and a zesty cutting cider. Not many pairings go better together.

Categories
Cider

Wyndridge Cider Co.’s Gingerbread Hard Cider

Start the new year the way you intend to go about it, this has always been my favorite piece of folk wisdom for changing the calendar year. This is how I chose apple juice for this week. I’m so excited to review cider from companies I’ve never tried before. Of course, I want to keep tasting and writing about my favorite things, but I really want to try new things and learn new favourites. During the holiday break, I took myself a night to do whatever I wanted by myself. I picked and cooked dinner, picked myself a smoothie, and enjoyed a vacation tee of amenities on my sofa.

Also, if you missed my rough roundup of favorite ciders from 2021, you can check them out below:

Spots 6-10: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/12/5-of-my-favorite-10-ciders-of-2021.html

Top 5: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/12/my-favorite-5-ciders-of-2021.html

I chose Windridge Cedar ginger juice to accompany Single All the Way after a dinner of savory French toast (using homemade sourdough) with paprika and chevre. I like that you treat me properly.

Although this is Windridge’s first appearance on the blog, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting a few ciders when judging cider over the past few years. The company has been around since 2014 and comes to us from Dallastown, Pennsylvania. On the website, I found a list of orchards from which to buy Windridge; I love that. Cider depends on the orchards, and places that show love and appreciation for the sources of their fruits make me happy.

You can visit The Windsridge Cider Company online here for all the ciders: https://wyndridge.com/craft-beverages/ciders

Windridge Cider Co describes gingerbread as, “Fresh squeezed ginger root fermented with PA apples, Belgian molasses, and gingerbread seasoning, this is the warmest winter cider. Cheers!” ABV 6%. This is a seasonal release available in November and December, but I’ll be looking into it for a little longer, just in case.

Appearance: orange harvest, transparent, no visible bubbles.

I love the intensity of this color. It reminds me of spice in its form from the first moment. I don’t see any bubbles, and it looks transparent and not hazy or glossy.

Flavors: apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and lots of ginger

Gingerbread smells very spicy. I’m excited to eat applesauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lots of ginger.

Sweetness / Dryness: semi-sweet

Windridge Cedar gingerbread comes out as semi-sweet. It’s a nice, balanced drink, and I enjoyed it as an after-dinner drink.

Experiment with flavors and drink: molasses, medium acidity, ginger, ripe apple, hints of citrus

What a beautiful apple cider. I wish I had more than one to spread out during these cold, gloomy months ahead. Gingerbread has less acid than expected, but it is still an average level of acidity. Molasses are a clear and cheerful presence. The three dominant flavors are ginger, apple and molasses with some hints of citrus in the mix.

It was great with light desserts for the movie I chose. Sometimes I just need fun and delicious things, and this was perfect. Perhaps these nights should become a regular occurrence.

Categories
Cider

Dutton Cider Co.’s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider

Today, I’m writing as I watch my cat Thistle wash her paw in the bright winter sunlight. It’s not warm, but I’m so happy to see the sun, even if I appreciate it from indoors. Many of my cider friends are traveling to (or already at) Virginia for CiderCon right now. I hope they’ll have safe trips and wonderful times at the conference; the program certainly looks amazing!

If you want to read more about this sold-out event, check out the American Cider Association’s website: https://ciderassociation.org/cidercon2022/

Just because I’m staying home this year, doesn’t mean I’m not still thinking about and loving cider. I’m trying another new-to-me cidery this week: Dutton Cider Co.. I’m pairing a Dutton Cider Co.’s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider with Penzey’s Smoky 4S and the start of Home Fires Season 2. I may not be having the most exciting winter on record, but I’ve got cozy all figured out. My thanks to Dutton Cider Co for sending me samples for review.

Here’s what I was able to find out about Sonoma County’s Dutton Cider.

THE MAKERS Dutton Ranch farms 200 acres of CCOF certified organic apples in addition to 1200 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Joe and Tracy Dutton founded Dutton Estate Winery in 1995 and grew up farming apples alongside vineyards. Their combined multi-generational family history inspires the crafting of hard apple cider.

You can learn more about Dutton Estates from the website: https://www.duttonestate.com/

Here’s a bit more information from the cidery about the apples and cider making.

THE APPLES

The blending of the beloved local heirloom Gravenstein variety with Golden Delicious fashions the perfect cider… fruit-forward, like biting into fresh apples, with a touch of tartness and sweetness.

THE METHOD

Cold pressing, cold settling, cold fermenting, and cold storage ensure that crisp apple flavors are retained and acidity is smooth and bright.

This cider has an ABV of 7.4%

Appearance: brilliant, shining, cool toned gold, tiny bubbles

This is a very pretty cider; It seems a shame to hide it in a can! I poured mine into a rocks glass so I could appreciate its brilliant shine and almost cold-toned gold. I barely know how to describe the color; it’s mature yellow with a memory of green like wheat tips. I can see just a few tiny visible bubbles.

Aromas: golden raisins, overripe apples, minerals

Oh! This cider has some fabulous power in its aromas. The cider smells like overripe apples; the notes are concentrated like golden raisins. I also get a vibrant base of minerals.

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet to semi-sweet cider. The sweetness is balanced by both bitterness and acidity, but it’s definitely integral to the cider.

Flavors and drinking experiences: sweet, green apple, bitter, mineral finish

Dutton Cider Co.’s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider starts with a splash of bright magic acid that makes me think of green apples. The minerals are a bit sharp and the acid feels angular in my mouth. The cider isn’t funky, but it’s profile is different from most high acid and sweet ciders. Perhaps it’s that this cider is also tannic and bitter, but I’m not entirely sure yet.

What an interesting cider. I like how Dutton’s Cider has of Maple with a bit of bitterness that fills out the tasting experience. For a sweet cider I was surprised by the minerality of the finish. My co-tasters disagreed about the mouthfeel: hearty vs light. I can understand the divide. Tannic ciders and sweeter ciders can feel full but acidic cider with strong bubbles feel light. This cider is all of those things.

Overall, Dutton’s cider comes across as wonderfully interesting; It’s a clean polished cider that definitely has winemakers’ roots. It makes for a quite nice pairing with popcorn and excellent TV.