Louis Raison Rouge Delice

Review of Louis Raison Rouge Delice.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve also sampled their Organic Dry version.  This article gives a nice overview of the cidery, such that they started in 1923, and are the top selling cidermaker in France.

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Cider:  Rouge Delice
Cidery:  Louis Raison
Cidery Location:  Le Theil-sur-Huisne France
ABV:  5.5%
Brix:  6.57 (23 g sugar / 11.2 oz)
How Supplied:  six pack of 11.2 oz bottles
Style:  commercial French cider, from 10% Rouge Delice red-fleshed apples + 90% bittersweet apples

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Availability:  wide release in Europe, plus at least sold in Washington & Oregon in the U.S. since March 2018

Cider Description:  [Rouge Delice] is comprised of Rouge Delice and Bittersweet apples. Rouge Delice apples – grown only in France – are recognized for their unique red flesh, delivering the natural rose hue of the liquid itself.  On the nose, this cider is citrusy with bright acidity, accompanied by hints of strawberry and cranberry.  The taste is floral with hints of white tea, spiced apple, and melon.  Rouge Delice finishes with a soft, sweet hint of playful plum and fruit flavors. 2017 Tastings Gold Medal recipient.

Ingredient List:  hard cider, apple juice, liquid sugar, citric acid, natural flavors, color: E163

Cidery Description:  Observing the growth that the American cider industry has experienced, Louis Raison saw an exciting opportunity to introduce high-quality French cidre to US consumers. With such a rich history in cider making, it seemed like a natural fit. After almost a century of production, the Raison team has shown dedication to the longevity of their cider-making expertise, respect for its cooperative values, and the development of sustainable agriculture. Nothing short of a modern-day family, it is only with the knowledge and expertise of its 300 producers and members of the cooperative that Louis Raison has become the market leader of cidre in France. Years of experience have earned Louis Raison the mastery of the sustainable cultivation of apples from orchard to glass. Ultimately, Louis Raison is proud of its cooperative spirit – between producers of apples, employers of factory workers, and providers to cider drinkers alike, all are a part of the Raison family. Santé!

Price:  ~$2 / single bottle (runs ~$9.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about them online, and tried another variety at Cider Summit last year

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First Impression:  Light red hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells sweet, of apple, and slightly fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium bodied with a fluffy texture.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of sweet apple, strawberry, and watermelon, with hints of rich bittersweet apple.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I really liked the flavor, but it was a bit too sweet for me.  Perfect for summer though.

Most Similar to:  Two other French ciders I’ve had which were made using red-fleshed apples, Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche and La Chouette Cidre Rosé.  All three only used red-fleshed varieties as part of a blend.  The La Chouette was my favorite of the three, as it isn’t as sweet, but still flavorful, the most complex, and the least commercial tasting, although it also cost the most per ounce.

Closing Notes:  Louis Raison’s ciders are definitely more commercial tasting than most other French ciders I’ve tried, but are at a nice low price point, and will likely eventually be fairly widely distributed, and therefore able to introduce more folks to French cider, which I think overall is a good thing.  I think it was slightly deceptive to name this ‘Rouge Delice’ and highlight their use of this red-fleshed apple variety when they were only 10% of the mix, but at least the ingredient list on the label clearly stated the percentage, which is better than some other cideries have done (Angry Orchard, I’m thinking of you).

Side Note:  If you are interested in trying American ciders from 100% red-fleshed apples, I recommend Alpenfire GlowAlpenfire Cinders, and Snowdrift Red.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

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Crispin Rosé

Review of Crispin Rosé.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Original, Pacific Pear, Blackberry PearThe Saint, Bohemian, Honeycrisp, Venus Reigns, Steeltown, 15 MenBrowns Lane, and Bourbon Char.

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Cider:  Rosé
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax CA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from apple & pear juices, with rose & hibiscus petals

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Availability:  wide release, since Jan 2018 – see their cider locator

Cider Description:  Blend of 50% apple cider & 50% pear cider and. Rose petals and Hibiscus give a light tannic quality and “Provence style” Rose’ Wine color. Hints of fresh Strawberry and Honeydew with a tickle of sweetness.

Ingredient List:  filtered water, fresh-pressed hard apple cider, fresh-pressed hard pear cider, pear juice concentrate (finishing sweetener), natural flavors, malic acid, contains sulfites

Cidery Description:  Crispin® ciders are naturally fermented using the raw, unpasteurized juice of fresh-pressed American apples and pears. Through classic cold-fermentation and specially selected wine yeasts, we always stay true to the fruit with authentic flavors and unique aromatic notes that are only present in fresh-pressed cider.

Price:  ~$2 single bottle ($7.99-$8.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Still.  Light pink hue.  Smells mild, sweet and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  No sourness, funk, tannins, or bitterness.  Notes of granny smith applies with hints of berry, floral, and dried pear.  Quick finish.  Low pear and apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was pretty average.  I liked that it was drier, but probably because of that, it was lacking in flavor.  I was a bit puzzled as the description said they used hibiscus and rose petals, but they weren’t on the ingredients list (only “natural flavor”).

Most Similar to:  a slightly drier and blander version of Angry Orchard Rosé

Closing Notes:  I think Crispin is a great cider option for folks who live in areas which only get mass produced ciders, as they are a bit drier and less commercial (more real) tasting.  Ace is a bit similar, a commercial cidery with offerings that include some on the drier side, and which taste less commercial.  Crispin’s Original is probably my favorite commercial cider.

Have you tried Crispin Rosé?  What did you think?

Finnriver Lavender Black Currant

Review of Finnriver Seasonal Botanical Series Lavender Black Currant.  I’ve had this at least a few times, but hadn’t done a full review of a bottle.  I’ve also tried the majority of their other ciders; see here.  They have new labels, which I think look really neat, more high end and sophisticated.

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Cider:  Lavender Black Currant
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA (outside of Port Townsend)
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American Organic craft cider from dessert apples, with black currant and lavender

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Availability:  summer seasonal, sold in AZ, CA, CO, IL, MT, NV, NY, OR, TX, WA, and WI in the U.S., plus Alberta and British Columbia Canada (plus online sales, plus they have a plain Black Currant sold year round for $1-2 less)

Cider Description:  Farmcrafted in our Chimacum barn with a select blend of Washington organic apples, organic black currant juice, organic lavender flowers from Olympic Peninsula farms (Jardin du Soleil, Wilderbee, and Purple Haze), and organic cane sugar.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we ferment out dreams and pour our hearts into each bottle.  Our Botanical Ciders are rooted in ancient wisdom, inspired by the seasons and crafted with a spirit of adventure!  This bottle is an invitation to discover the possibilities of the apple and the earthly abundance of the farmed fields and wild meadows of the Olympic Peninsula.  We are glad to share the beauty and county of the land!

Check out their website for more info.  They have a tasting room on their farm+orchard outside of Port Townsend WA which is a family friendly destination, with food, games, and more.  If you are heading to Port Townsend, also check out Alpenfire and Eaglemount, and I highly recommend staying at the Inn at the Resort at Port Ludlow (check out my review here, which also links to my reviews of all 3 Port Townsend area cideries).

Price:  $9.99
Where Bought:  Whole Foods
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this on draft at Schilling Cider House

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First Impression:  Deep purple-red hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells rich, fruity, and of lavender.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of grape, pomegranate, and blueberry (all three of which I imagine are the black currant flavor – I actually have never tried currants outside of cider so couldn’t really identify their flavor), plus hints of lavender especially on the finish.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoy this one.  I usually don’t go for something this tart, but the sweetness helps balance that.  It has some complexity beyond what you’d typically see for a flavored cider from dessert apples.  Its also pretty neat that they can make Organic cider from local ingredients for only $10 / bottle (even less on draft).

Most Similar to:  their plain Black Currant cider, except with lavender

Closing Notes:  This is my favorite cider from Finnriver’s regular lineup.  My other favorites are Fire Barrel (especially the previous recipe – I wasn’t nearly as big of a fan of the latest release), Farmstead, Oak & Apple, and Honey Meadow.  Both this and their regular year-round Black Currant are even better on Nitro draft, tasting crazy smooth.

Have you tried any of Finnriver’s botanical ciders?  What did you think?

Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Preview

The epic 9th annual Cider Summit is returning for 2018 to Seattle Washington on Friday September 7th (3-8pm) and Saturday September 8th (noon-5pm), at the South Lake Union Discovery Center Lawn.  Check out my previous posts on Cider Summit from 2015 thru 2017 here, with a preview, event review, and cider tasting notes from each year.

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See here for the full event info and here for the lists of cideries and ciders.  The plan is for 52 cideries (or in some cases, distributors) to be represented, pouring 3-6 selections each.  That is over 200 ciders, cysers, meads, fruit wines, Pommeaux, apple brandies, cider whiskies, cider cocktails, etc.  So, there are plenty of options for all tastes, and even folks like me will have multiple new ciders to try.  They of course skew towards the NW, but there are cideries from all over the country and world represented too.

Regular tickets are sold in advance online ($43.60 including fees), at Capitol Cider, or at the door ($45), and includes a tasting glass + 16 drink tickets.  VIP tickets are sold in advance online ($55.76 including fees) only, and get you in an hour early on Friday (2pm instead of 3pm), and includes a tasting glass + 24 drink tickets.  Note that this is double the number of drink tickets as last year, as they have reduced the pour size from 4oz to 2oz, so you can try twice as many ciders – very cool.  Additional drink tickets are sold at the event.  Designated driver tickets are available at the door for $5.

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This outdoor event is 21+ but dog friendly.  They have covered seating, stand up tables, cold water on tap, and port-a-potties.  The event also includes a merchandise shop, bottle shop, food sales, and a dog lounge.  Plus, new for this year, paired bites from Capitol Cider and other local producers.  Another special feature is the Fruit Cider Challenge; many cideries are bringing a special fruity cider, and attendees can vote for their favorite.  Most booths have folks from the cidery (sometimes even the cidermaker) pouring ciders, a mix of keg and bottle pours.  They may also still be accepting volunteers (includes free admission after your shift and 50% off wearables).

The event has in & out privileges (if you keep your wristband and glass), so you can leave to grab food (such as from the Whole Foods just down the street), or even return the next day.  On Friday it usually doesn’t get too busy until closer to 5pm, but it is pretty busy from then on (line down the street when they open on Saturday, which you can skip by the way if you already have a wristband & glass).  However, the event is so well laid out and there is enough space, so there are fewer & shorter lines and less crowds than the smaller events.

Cider Summit Seattle is part of Washington Cider Week (Sept 6-16).  Stay tuned for more posts here at Cider Says on Cider Summit and Washington Cider Week 2018 events.

Anyday Rosé

Review of Anyday Rosé, 85% hopped cider with 15% rosé wine.  It is my first time trying this.

Cider:  Anyday Rosé
Cidery:  Anyday Brands
Cidery Location:  based in New York, but production is in Paso Robles CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American craft cider from west coast dessert apples with Cascade & Citra hops and rosé wine

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Anyday Brands.  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.<<

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Availability:  online sales, to most U.S. states (all except AK, AL, DE, HI, KY, MS, OK, and UT)

Cider Description:  Our delicious Rosé cider is a masterfully blended recipe of West Coast apples, rosé wine and cascade and citra hops.  Our company is based in New York, but our rosé is crafted in the heart of the Central Coast Wine Region in Paso Robles, CA. Anyday is 85 percent crisp cider and 15 percent rosé wine with hops, creating the perfect blend of cider and rosé. Oh, and our rosé has an alcohol content of 6.9 percent (we know, nice).

Nutrition Facts:  From their website, per 12oz can – 125 calories, 6g carbs, 1g sugar.

Cidery Description:  Anyday Rosé was created by former NFL player Pat McAfee and former Barstool Sports advertising director Louis Roberts. The pair teamed up with winemakers Andrew Jones of Tin City Cider and Michael Zinke of Zinke Wines.  For more info, see here.

Price:  $32 (including shipping) for two four-packs [or less per can for higher quantities – they even sell a pack of 365 cans]
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the co-founder contacted me, Louis Roberts

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First Impression:  Medium red hue (more than I expected for being only 15% rosé).  Mild to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, only of hops.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness from the hops.  No tannins, funk, or sourness.  Notes of green apple, hops, citrus, and hints of floral & non-specific fruitiness.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity and hops flavor.

My Opinion:  This one really grew on me.  At first I wasn’t really getting why you’d mix a hopped cider with a rosé, but by the end of the can I liked it.  Despite this being dry and hopped, which you think would limit their market a bit as not everyone likes both of those, I could see this having more appeal.  It drinks like it is a bit sweeter, likely due to that bit of fruitiness.  It was plenty easy for me to drink even though I don’t usually go for a fully dry cider.  Plus it actually had some unexpected complexity.  I did however find it interesting that their marketing emphasizes the rosé part and nearly skips over that this is hopped, as for me the hops made more of an impact on the flavor than the rosé aspect.  Maybe because rosé is so hot right now?  At $4 / can for their lowest quantity option it isn’t the cheapest, but not super expensive either.

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Notes on Shipping:  As this product is only available online, unlike most of my review ciders, receiving it through the mail was part of the standard process, so I thought I’d add a bit about that.  They ship from Paso Robles CA and use FedEx, which is awesome as they are way more alcohol-friendly than UPS.  If you won’t be home during the day to sign for it, you can have the package held at a number of location options (like FedEx shipping stores), instead of only the main UPS facility (which for me is about 45 minutes away, so a big pain).  You don’t even need to have a FedEx account to do that (through the tracking number you can manage the shipment as a guest as long as you know the address info and such).  It was packaged in a cool branded box.

All 8 cans arrived intact, although a few had small dents.  I think the packaging was average – likely sufficient in the majority of cases, but I’ve seen better.  I received several order status updates by e-mail.  Overall everything went smoothly and it was convenient.  The only drawback to only online sales that I can see is the delay between ordering and receiving, plus unlike picking it up at a store, it won’t arrive pre-chilled (most stores around me have the majority of their beers & ciders in fridge cases), except maybe in winter I guess.

Most Similar to:  a drier version of Incline Compass Rosé, which is also a hopped rosé cider, although only available in the NW

Closing Notes:  This is a unique product in that it is only sold online, seems to be targeting younger folks / Millennials (very Instagramable), and they even have a guarantee of a full refund if you don’t like the product (I can’t think of any cidery which has that in writing, although I’m sure most of them would make it right if you contacted them about being dissatisfied.  Its a nice thing to have when spending $32+ on something new.).  I’m interested to see what they will release next – whether it will be another cider, or something else, like a beer or wine.

Have you tried Anyday Rosé?  What did you think?

Barns Etc / Hard Cider Shed’s Country Elegance Heirloom Blend Medium

Review of Barns Etc (Hard Cider Shed) Counry Elegance Heirloom Blend cider, Medium sweet.  “Barns Etc” is the cidery in Wenatchee WA, and they have a tasting room called “The Cider Shed” in Cashmere WA.  This is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Country Elegance Heirloom Blend, Medium
Cidery:  Barns Etc / Hard Cider Shed
Cidery Location:  Wenatchee/Cashmere WA
ABV:  7.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom cider apples

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Availability:  very limited (see here), mostly only through their tasting room, plus local delivery for large orders, a few shops in the Cashmere / Wenatchee / Leavenworth WA area, and possibly shipping

Cider Description:  Our attention to blending sweet and tart heirloom apples provides this wonderful cider. Grilled salmon pairs nicely with our Country Elegance Heirloom blend ~ medium. 

Cidery Description:  Country Elegance artisan hard ciders are hand crafted using all natural fresh pressed heirloom apples from Cashmere and Wenatchee, Washington family orchards.  The delicate blending of sweet and tart apples provide a pure and uniquely flavorful blend of ciders.

Price:  $22
Where Bought:  Broken  Barrel, a bottle shop + tasting room with wine & cider in Leavenworth WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, when we were in town for a few days in early December 2017; see my Leavenworth cider roundup post here

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of acidic heirloom apple cider.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins and sourness.  No funk or bitterness.  Notes of heirloom apple juice & pomace, caramel, orange, and grapefruit.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Moderate to high sessionability and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Nice flavor and complexity.  A perfect amount of sweetness for my tastes.  Not super tart/acidic like so many heirloom apple ciders (likely balanced by the additional sweetness, as so often they go fully dry).  However, it would have been awesome without that hint of sour (I’m really sensitive to it and it just hits my taste buds wrong).  Also, at $22, I think it is a bit spendy, costing more than most all other local ciders I’ve bought, even those from cider apples, which usually run ~ $15-20, like from Alpenfire, Snowdrift, Liberty, Dragon’s Head, and Whitewood.  Although 750ml can look like a lot, its only 25.4 oz, and at only 7% ABV, it was easy for me to finish the bottle by myself in one night.  It always great to see ciders made from heirloom and/or cider apples, instead of the flavored ciders from dessert apples which make up the majority of the market.

Most Similar to:  nothing really, as it had a different flavor profile than most heirloom apple ciders I’ve had, but it was a bit similar to Frecon Farms Scrumpy and Eden Guinevere’s Pearls

Closing Notes:  They also have dry and sweet versions of this heirloom cider, as well as a cherry cider and a perry, all retailing for $22.

Have you tried any cider from north central Washington?  What did you think?

Grand Illusion Street Magic

Review of Grand Illusion Hard Cider’s Street Magic, a hopped grapefruit cider.  I have previously tried their Mystic Citra Pineapple and Blue Illusion.

Cider:  Street Magic
Cidery:  Grand Illusion Hard Cider
Cidery Location:  Carlisle PA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with Citra & Centennial hops and grapefruit

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Grand Illustion.  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.<<

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Availability:  in Pennsylvania, primarily at their taproom, but soon, at some other locations

Cider Description:  This mouth-puckering, subtropical grapefruit cider is pure sunshine. The balance achieved between tart and sweet complement the citrus and floral notes provided by Citra and Centennial hops.

Cidery Description:  We are Grand Illusion, a hard cider production company located in Carlisle, PA.  We use fresh pressed apples from Adams and York County to create magical ciders for all to enjoy.  Our taproom in downtown Carlisle has become a destination, with 15 ciders, 5 beers, and 8 wines – all on draft and all from Pennsylvania.

Here is an article from a local newspaper on the cidery.  They serve both their own ciders and ciders from other cideries at their taproom; see their tap list here.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $44 / case, likely ~ $11 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery owners contacted me

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First Impression:  Light yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of hops with hints of lemon, orange, and grapefruit.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  Hints of sourness.  No funk or tannins.  Notes of hops, citrus, and grapefruit.  Long bitter hoppy finish.  Moderate hops intensity and overall flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I wasn’t personally a fan.  It was too bitter for my liking, without enough sweetness to counter it.  My husband liked it better, but we both preferred the pineapple hopped one (Mystic Citra Pineapple), as it was less bitter, more sweet, and more complex.  Same as Mystic Citra Pineapple, I think this would appeal best to beer drinkers, and tasted less sweet than the labeled 17 grams of sugar.  The great thing about the cider industry right now is that there are so many options; every cider or cidery won’t appeal to everyone, but there will be others out there that will.  Grand Illusion’s ciders are doing well on untappd and such, so there are definitely plenty of folks who enjoy their ciders even if they weren’t my personal favorite.

Most Similar to:  a hopped version of Cascadia Grapefruit Tangerine

Closing Notes:  Of the three I tried, their Mystic Citra Pineapple was my favorite.  I’m curious to see the evolution of their cidery and ciders over time.

Have you tried hopped cider?  What did you think?