Florence Loisel Cidre Breton “Gosne”

Review of Florence Loisel Cidre Breton “Gosne”, from Brittany France.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery, but I’ve tried a number of other French cidres (like these).

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Cider:  “Gosne”
Cidery:  Florence Loisel
Cidery Location:  Noyal sur Vilaine, Brittany, France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  French cidre

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Availability:  semi wide release, imported by Petit Monde Wine Merchant

Description:  none given, besides that this is a Brut (dry) French apple cider

Price:  $10
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland OR
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  This was one of the many ciders I picked up when I was there for Cider Rite of Spring (see here).

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First Impression:  Light yellow amber hue.  Moderate to high carbonation.  Smells apple-forward, acidic & fruity, with a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of heirloom, crab, & green apples, lemon, stone fruit, pineapple, and mineral.  Moderate length finish, mostly lingering carbonation on the palette.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it – drier than most French cidres (it actually held true to the “Brut” label), and fruity (no significant cider apple flavor or richness).

Most Similar to:  The flavor notes and carbonation were similar to Bertolinos (from Italy), but that was less acidic and slightly sweeter.  Also, E.Z. Orchards Roman Beauty, Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront, Snowdrift Cliffbreaks Blend, Scandinavian Green Apple Cider, and Dragon’s Head Columbia Crab.

Closing Notes:  This is one of the most unusual French cidres I’ve tried – it strayed from the typical course, but the flavor was nice – a perfect cider for warm weather.  I found it more “American” than French style though.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Cider Says turns two years old!

A big thank you to my readers for helping Cider Says reach a new milestone, its second anniversary!  I’ve really enjoyed sharing my cider journey with all of you.  Its been fun, and I look forward to more years of blogging.  In the past year I’ve made over 200 posts, and had 35,000 visitors.  The majority are from the U.S., but folks from several dozen other countries have visited as well (Canada and the UK are the next two most common).  This summer I’ll be attending several cider tasting events (including the epic Cider Summit Seattle!), so look forward to some awesome posts here.

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Sandford Orchard Straw & Oak

Review of Sandford Orchards Straw & Oak, an English cider from cider apples pressed through straw, then oak barrel aged.  It is my first time trying this cider, although I’ve previously had The General and Chestnut Cask from this cidery, and English ciders are a favorite of mine.

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Cider:  Straw & Oak
Cidery:  Sandford Orchards
Cidery Location:  Crediton UK
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  English cider from cider apples, pressed through straw, oak barrel aged

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Availability:  semi wide release, imported into the U.S. by B. United International Inc. out of Oxford CT (the cidery also has an online store if you are in England)

Cider Description:  Pressed through wheat reed and barley straw in 2013 this cider is full of fresh grapefruit, pear and elderflower aroma and has developed a superb astringent, mature oak finish.  (aged for one year in oak barrels)

Apple Varieties:  Harry Masters Jersey, Michelin, and Browns

Cidery Description:  Sandford Orchards is craft cider producer from the heart of idyllic, rural Devon. Our methods are simple and so is our ethos: we only bottle the best. We are enormously proud to have been recognised for our endeavours. We are a family business full of passion for our products, we believe that Devon ciders and juices are the best in the world – we want you to taste them!

This appears to be a for-export-only cider variety for them.  Sandford Orchards was founded in 2003, so they are well-established, but not one of the very old English cideries (like Aspall and Sheppy’s).

Price:  $6.85
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland Oregon
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells rich, of caramel and bittersweet apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Moderate tannins.  Low funk.  Hints of sourness.  Notes of orange, grapefruit, leather, caramel, must, oak, earthiness, and bittersweet apples.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, and flavor intensity.  High complexity.  Low oak flavor.

My Opinion:  I loved the flavor notes of this cider, but didn’t enjoy the bitterness and mouth-puckering tartness/acidity.  More sweetness probably could have balanced out those qualities.  Pressing through straw added a unique twist to this one, and there was an interesting combination of tart fruitiness with richness.

Most Similar to:  Sandford Orchards Chestnut CaskSandford Orchards The GeneralHecks Tremletts Bitter, Ross on Wye, and Merridale Scrumpy Cider

Closing Notes:  Imported English ciders can be an awesome value, and I’m always on the lookout for new ones to try.  However, I prefer English ciders more like Dunketons, Aspall, and Sheppy’s.

Have you tried Sandford Orchards cider?  What did you think?

Beehaven Watermelon Mead

Review of Beehaven’s Sparkling Watermelon Mead.  Yes, I know, mead isn’t cider, but I occasionally review other alternative beverages.  It is my first time trying any of their mead (made from fermenting honey & water).

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Variety:  Sparkling Watermelon Mead
Meadery:  Beehaven
Cidery Location:  Seattle WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American craft session mead with watermelon flavor

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Availability:  seasonally, June-August, in California, Idaho, and Washington

Description:  Juicy watermelon with the seeds thrown in as well, lime lends a nice big zesty bite, then basil is added for an herbal kick! A great summer option.

Meadery Description:  Welcome to BeeHaven. We make mead, the ancestor of all fermented drinks. Mead is made with honey and may be flavored with fruit or spices. Our small-batch flavorful meads are hand made with the finest natural ingredients, sparkling with a touch of sweetness, unfiltered and gluten-free with no added sulfites.  Served chilled, on ice, or in the Old European tradition–warmed and served as a toddy. And BeeHaven mead is low in alcohol making it very drinkable and refreshing–use it to create your own personal cocktail!

Price:  $5.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’m a sucker for anything watermelon flavored.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue with a hint of pink upon first pouring it and taking the photo, but the last 1/4 of the bottle I poured came out murky brown (but tasted pretty much the same), so I guess I should have shook it a bit before pouring.  Low carbonation.  Smells of candied watermelon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of watermelon, honey, honeycomb, and hints of herbal & floral.  Quick finish.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, I was expecting it to be much drier, like the other session meads I’ve tried.  I liked it was more flavorful than the other session meads, but I found it a bit sweet to have the whole bottle, and at only 5.5%, that is something I’d usually do.  The watermelon flavor was spot-on.  However, at times it seemed to be competing with the honey flavor.

Most Similar to:  Nothing much.  I’ve never had watermelon mead, the other session meads I’ve tried (such as from Nectar Creek) have been much drier, and the sweeter meads I’ve tried have been much higher in ABV (such as from Superstition, Aesir, Eaglemount, and Moonlight).

Closing Notes:  This was nice as something different, but if I’m going to drink something sweet, I think I like the higher ABV beverages, so I drink less of it.

On the watermelon note, lately I’ve been really into Smirnoff’s Watermelon Spiked Seltzer.

Have you tried mead?  What did you think?

Worley’s Special Reserve

Review of Worley’s Special Reserve, a keeved English cider (a process more common with French cidre, and which makes a naturally sweet and sparkling cider).  I previously tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2015 (see here), but wanted to give it another go.  I’ve also tried Worley’s other two ciders which are available in the U.S., Premium Vintage and Mendip Hills.

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Cider:  Special Reserve
Cidery:  Worley’s
Cidery Location:  Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK
ABV:  5.4%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  English craft cider from cider apples, keeved, medium sweet, naturally sparkling

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Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  Worley’s Special Reserve is made from 100% pure cider apple juice using the ancient art of keeving.  This creates a naturally sparkling cider of outstanding fruity character with subtle undertones of caramel.  It has a sweetness and rounded tannins lifted by a long-lasting carbonation.  Bottle-conditioning results in a natural sediment.  Store and chill upright and pour with care to leave sediment in the bottle.

Cidery Description:  A hobby that got out of control.  We first made cider as a bit of fun for ourselves and our friends. Now here we are nearly a decade later and we’re still having fun but we’re making a lot more cider!  Our first experience of making was when we bought 50 gallons of juice off the farm press from the iconic Roger Wilkins in Mudgely, Somerset. We made the mistake of adding in a bit of sugar and ended up with 10.5% cider. It was lethal and one of the neighbours spent a few hours in a ditch as a result of downing a couple of pints.  Lesson learned, we began to find our own fruit in various small Somerset orchards and gradually started to master the mysterious arts of fruit selection and fermentation.  A few years ago we decided if wanted to carry on making cider we’d need the cider to start making a contribution to its upkeep. So we gradually started selling a bit. Now we’re making over 30,000 litres a year and don’t have time to have proper jobs any more!

Price:  $16.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  initially at Cider Summit Seattle

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Low to moderate carbonation with some foam.  Smells funky, of bittersweet cider apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied with a fluffy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Moderate tannins.  Moderate to high funk, especially on the finish.  Hints of sourness.  Moderate to long finish.  Notes of bittersweet cider apple juice and pomace, orange, caramel, and barnyard.  High apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  It has an interesting mix between lightness and richness.  However, I would have liked less funk (although the quality has grown on me in the last couple years).

Most Similar to:  A cross between English and French cider, which are both favorites of mine.

Closing Notes:  I’ve been in a big English cider mood lately, but the selection of them has decreased in the Seattle area oddly enough (seems like the imports don’t move very quickly, so the shops haven’t been re-ordering them).  My favorite Worley’s cider so far is Mendip Hills, which had all the flavor without the funk.

Have you tried keeved cider?  What did you think?

Gumption Cider Co. Citrus Freak

Review of Citrus Freak from Gumption Cider Co. (part of Vermont Cider Co., which also includes Woodchuck).  This is the second year-round offering from the series, along with the original Gumption (which I reviewed here).  Gumption started in 2015 under the Woodchuck brand, but it branched out as its own brand in 2016.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by the Vermont Cider Co.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Citrus Freak
Cidery:  Gumption Cider Co. (part of the Vermont Cider Co.)
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples, with citrus and Cascade hops

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Availability:  Year-round, wide release

Cider Description:  Part prankster, part gangster, Gumption’s right-hand man is the Citrus Freak.  A perfect pairing of eating apples, grapefruit, and Cascade hops, this semi-dry cider delivers an all-day enjoyable citrus experience.

Gumption Description:  The Circus of Ciders.  Originally launched under the Woodchuck brand in 2015, Gumption® is a bold and audacious brand which has been wildly successful with consumers. In December 2016, Gumption spun off from Woodchuck® as its own brand with line extensions including the rotational Late Show series and Citrus Freak.

Vermont Cider Co. Description:  Vermont Cider Co. introduced the U.S. to the craft cider category 25 years ago. Dedicated exclusively to cider making, they are the proud producers of their namesake brand, the original American hard cider, Woodchuck, the northeast premium hard cider brand, Vermont Cider Co., the circus of ciders, Gumption, the west coast native, Wyder’s Cider, and importers of Magners Irish Cider and Blackthorn. With an unparalleled focus on quality and innovation, Vermont Cider Co. leads the category in releasing the most premium liquid and pioneering new ciders made from the finest ingredients. Under the watchful eyes of two award-winning cider makers, Vermont Cider Co. produces and distributes from Middlebury, VT, blending together the passion of their consumers, their creativity, and their heritage within the green mountains.

Price:  n/a (retails for $8.99-$10.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Very pale straw yellow.  Nearly still.  Smells mildly of sweet citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of grapefruit, lemon, orange, and a hint of citrus-forward hops.  Moderate length finish.  High sessionability.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked the start of this cider, but after a few sips the citrus got a bit fake, almost air freshener ish, more of grapefruit extract than grapefruit juice.  I was surprised the hops were almost imperceptible, but I imagine some folks will like that.  I liked that they went drier on this one too.

Most Similar to:  Schilling Grapefruit & Chill and Somersby Citrus Fruit (or for a more real-tasting grapefruit cider, Elemental Hydrogen)

Closing Notes:  I’d love to see this go more natural tasting, then I’d be a fan, as I like the idea of it.

Have you tried Gumption Citrus Freak?  What did you think?

Henney’s Dry Cider

Review of Henney’s Dry Cider, from England.  It is my first time trying it, although I’ve sampled their Vintage variety.  I’m also a big fan of English cider in general, having tried a number of selections (see here for some examples).

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Cider:  Dry
Cidery:  Henney’s
Cidery Location:   Worcester, Herefordshire, England
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  English cider from cider apple varieties (such as Browns Apple, Michelin, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, and Tremletts Bitter)

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Availability:  semi wide release (imported by Shelton Brothers)

Cider Description:  Our best selling cider.  Smooth, light and refreshing.  Sweet, appley aroma. Palate has a delicious bittersweet apple character with some spicy bite and a bit of a tannic grip. Very fruity and quite pure, with a nice savoury twist.

Cidery Description:  At Henney’s we believe that the best way to make cider is to start with high quality ingredients and to keep the process as simple as possible.  This has helped us to win many prestigious awards in recent years.  Each Autumn, carefully selected, locally grown, varieties of genuine cider apples are milled, pressed, and fermented.  The resulting cider is then blended and stored through the winter allowing it to mature and develop a rich and mellow flavour.

Mike Henney started making cider in 1996, went commercial in 1999, and by 2013, cider production was over 250,000 gallons a year.

Price:  $6
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland Oregon
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had never seen their cider, but had heard of it.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, slightly tannic and acidic.

Tasting Notes:  Dry (but not completely).  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple pomace, honey, pineapple, and stone fruit like apricot.  Long finish.  Moderate apple flavor, flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Its surprisingly fruity and refreshing, yet it still maintains great English cider flavor, tannins, etc (just not quite as rich as many English ciders).

Most Similar to:  Sheppy’s Somerset Draught (more in style than flavor though), Dunkertons Black Fox, and Aspall Grand Cru & Demi Sec, although all are sweeter

Closing Notes:  As much as I liked it, I have to say I much preferred their Vintage (although there would be times / meals the Dry would be better).

Have you tried Henney’s English cider?  What did you think?