2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – 2016 Vintage

This review is of 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche, a French-style keeved cider.  This is their second release of this cider, the 2016 vintage (see my review here of the 2015 vintage).  I’ve also tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (see here).

Keeving is a special labor intensive process of fermenting the cider slowly, starving it of natural nutrients.  It results in an apple-forward, naturally sweet, lower ABV, and higher carbonation cider.  This is typical for French cidre, but is very rare in the U.S.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Traditions Cidre Bouche
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  375ml (12.7oz) fancy single bottles
Style:  American craft French style cider, keeved, from cider apples, oak cask aged

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Availability:  Limited (310 cases of 12 bottles), although 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Inspired by the bittersweet ciders of France, Cidre Bouche is made using an old-world process called keeving.  Starting with 100% traditional cider varieties like Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Pommes, Dabinett, and Muscat de Lense, we let the fruit ‘sweat’ and intensify in aroma.  The apples are crushed and left to soak on the skins before the juice is fermented slowly over the course of a tear in French oak casks.  When finished, this keeved cider is rich, thick, and brimming with overripe bittersweet apple character.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $10)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Moderate amber hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells of sweet ripe French bittersweet cider apple juice, yeast, and a predominant funk / barnyard.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low funk.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness.  Notes of rich ripe bittersweet cider apple juice and pomace, yeast, caramel, and orange.  Low oak influence.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I really enjoyed it.  The flavor was amazingly bold and rich, it remained free of sourness (which I’m not a fan of), and the funk added a bit of complexity but remained primarily in the scent.

Most Similar to:  French cidres with a bit of funk but no sourness, such as Christian Drouin Pays d’AugeL’Hermitiére Cidre Brut, and Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer

Closing Notes:   I think this release was significantly better than last year’s version, and if I was tasting it blind, I would have guessed it was made in France, not Oregon!  2 Towns has really mastered their keeving technique.  Its pretty cool to see a U.S. cidermaker use this old world French process.  We may see more keeved ciders, especially in the Northwest, as the NW Cider Association took a group of cidermakers (using grant money) to France and England to learn about keeving in May/June 2017; see here.

However, the price is a bit high (although understandable due to the high cost of cider apples in the U.S., and that this was a very labor intensive and relatively small batch release).  Many imported French cidres cost less per ounce.  By the way, my favorite budget-friendly French cider is Dan Armor, only $5 / 750ml (only at Trader Joe’s).  It is more simplistic (less complex) that this one however.  I’m not sure if U.S. cideries will ever be able to compete with those sorts of prices on ciders from bittersweet cider apples.

Have you tried 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche?  What did you think?

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