Gravenstein Cider Tasting Notes and Wassail

I was invited to share in a gravenstein cider tasting and Wassail at Cider Log Sarah’s house.  We sampled 9 single varietal gravenstein ciders, the 2013, 2014, & 2015 versions of Sea Cider Wassail, and wassailed the gravenstein tree at Sarah’s house (to encourage it to start producing apples again).

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Specific Gravity 2013 Gravenstein, Sebastopol CA, 6.8% ABV
Specific Gravity Nana Mae’s 2013 Early Harvest Gravenstein, Sebastopol CA, 6.9% ABV
Two Rivers Cider Company Gravenstein Hard Apple Cider, Sacramento CA, 6.5% ABV
Seattle Cider Company Harvest Series Gravenstein Rosé, Seattle WA, 6.9% ABV

Bull Run Gravenstein Single Varietal Medium Dry Cider, Forest Grove OR, 5.8% ABV
Whitewood Cider Company Gravenstein Old Fangled Series 2012 Harvest, Olympia WA, 6.7% ABV
Whitewood Cider Company Gravenstein Old Fangled Series Barrel Aged, Olympia WA, 6.7% ABV
Ace Blackjack 21 2014 Release (Chardonnay barrel aged), Sebastopol CA, 9% ABV
WildCraft Cider Works Farmhouse Gravenstein, Eugene OR, 6.7% ABV

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I had contributed the WildCraft Farmhouse Gravenstein, a sample bottle, but most of these were from Sarah’s own collection (many not available in WA, but picked up in her travels).

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by WildCraft Cider Works.  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.<<

Tasting Notes:  This was my first single varietal comparison tasting, and honestly they all tasted fairly similar to me.  I found them all to be light bodied, moderate to long finish, mild acidity, mild tartness, mild to moderate tannins, mild to moderate apple flavor, generally mild flavored, and low carbonation.  The flavor in general seemed quite mild, and I didn’t pick up too many other flavor notes, but they were mostly in the floral category.  The WildCraft one was the most sour (moderate), but I also picked up mild sourness in the Whitewood and Seattle Cider selections.  The barrel aged Whitewood selection was less sour and more smooth than the non barrel aged selection.  Ace was the sweetest selection (almost semi-sweet), but the others were all semi-dry to dry.  I couldn’t tell any difference between the two selections from Specific Gravity, and they were the ones with the most perceptible tannins.

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of gravenstein cider…I prefer a richer flavor than gravenstein apples can produce.  Oddly enough, the Ace was my favorite of these ciders (I say oddly enough as it was the only commercial selection).  Probably as the added sweetness brought more flavor.  I enjoyed it more than I had when I tried it when it came out in fall 2014 (they also released it again fall 2015).  My second favorite was the two selections from Specific Gravity.  That said, none of these amazed me.  However, it was fun to try so many single varietals and compare our tasting notes (there was a group of seven of us).

I also sampled Sea Cider Wassail.  I could tell the cider was slightly different between the years, but couldn’t exactly describe how.  See my previous tasting notes on Wassail.  Its definitely a high octane cider at 14% ABV, with a lovely rich spiced flavor.

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This is the gravenstein tree we wasailled…which involved providing an offering of toast soaked in mulled cider (we gave it the good stuff, from Sea Cider), beating pots & pans with wooden spoons, and reading a verse we found online.  I’m sure the neighbors thought we were nuts!

I was sent home with a six pack of ciders that Cider Log made, so it’ll be fun to sample and review some non-commercial ciders in the near future.

Have you done any single varietal cider tastings?  What do you think of gravenstein cider?

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