Pick Cider Ideas for Thanksgiving 2018

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I actually remembered to do a Thanksgiving cider article this year, so here it goes!  A list of some suggestions (at least for folks who can get these in their area) for Thanksgiving-dinner friendly ciders.  Besides pairing with a variety of foods, I think the ideal holiday cider will appeal to a wide audience (presuming you will share it with the table).  However, these selections will of course sway towards my personal tastes.

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French ciders – French ciders are inherently food-friendly, and have a wide appeal, typically being mid-level sweetness and apple-forward, but often having surprising complexity.  Its fun to share something unique (imported) with guests too.  Plus, they have a lower ABV, which can be ideal for meals earlier in the day.  Some of my favorites are from Domaine de la MinotiereEric BordeletKystinLa ChouetteL’HermitiéreManoir de Grandouet, and Pierre Huet.  I recently picked up a 5L mini keg of Bordelet, but I’m saving that for Christmas.  The easiest French cider to find for some may be Dan Armor, sold at Trader Joe’s, and at only $5 / 750ml, its an excellent value, and something I wouldn’t hesitate to serve at my house.  My top American-made French-style cider pick is 2 Towns Cidre Bouche.

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AeppelTreow Appely Doux – This Wisconsin methode champenoise (naturally sparkling) selection is mid-level sweetness with a flavor profile of citrus, green apple, honey, and floral.  It would make a nice champagne alternative anytime.

Alpenfire Spark! – This Washington cider is a great introduction to heritage ciders, with some rich notes of apple pomace, honey, orange, and leather, but remaining mid-level sweetness and clean.

Bertolinos Hard Cider – This Italian cider is mid-level sweetness, has some good fizz, and notes of honey, pineapple, and grapefruit.  Especially wide crowd appeal from my experience.

Eden Specialty Ciders – This Vermont cidery may have started with ice ciders (which I cover later), but they make some amazing regular ciders with wide appeal, such as their super complex Sparkling Semi-Dry, rich Guinevere’s Pearls, or new canned Heritage cider, which has to be the highest quality cider I’ve ever seen in a can.

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Eve’s Rustica This New York mid-sweetness cider has some unique notes of honey, cream/vanilla, and fruit, all expertly crafted just from the apples and yeast.

Liberty Kingston Black This Washington single varietal is made only from the iconic Kingston Black apples, yet I think it would have a wide appeal, as it retains some sweetness (semi-dry), is flavorful, and doesn’t cross over into funky/sour/bitter territory.

Slyboro Old Sin This New York semi-dry cider has some rich tannic flavor reminiscent of English cider, with notes of butterscotch, caramel, and tropical fruit, and is another selection which would make a great introductory heritage cider.  Lovely color to it too!

Snowdrift – This Washington cidery has several Thanksgiving-worthy crowd-pleasing cider selections, such as their Cidermaker’s Reserve (semi-dry, sparkling, fruity, and complex), Seckel Perry (mid-level sweetness, made only from Seckel pears), and Cliffbreaks Blend (semi-sweet, tart, and fruity).

Tilted Shed Smoked This dry cider hails from California, and is unique, nuanced, oaky, and slightly smokey.  Probably a bit less likely to be widely appealing, but I think it would be appreciated by certain audiences, and to me seems uniquely suited to Thanksgiving dinner.

Wandering Aengus Bloom – This Washington cider is mid-level sweetness and made from heirloom apples, but has widely appealing familiar notes of honey, green apple, and tropical fruit.

Whitewood Jonathan – This Washington cider is a single-varietal of Jonathan apples, and dry to semi-dry, but super approachable, being apple-forward with notes of citrus and honey.

ice cider – For a special treat with dessert, try ice cider.  It is made from naturally concentrating apple juice using cold to increase the sugar content before fermenting, resulting in a higher ABV sweet dessert cider bursting with flavor.  One of my favorites is Eden Brandy Barrel Aged Heirloom.

Pommeau – Also, Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) is another great dessert cider option.  It is made by fortifying cider (either fermented or unfermented juice) with distilled apple juice (brandy).  Like ice cider, it is a nice sipping option, although it is available in a wide range of sweetness.  Some of my favorites are from 2 Towns, Etienne DupontEZ OrchardsHerout, and Wandering Aengus.

Visit the Pick Cider campaign website for lots more great info, and try your local fine bottle shop or online, such as through Cider in Love or VinoShipper.  No matter which cider/s you choose, I’d encourage you to pick up some extra bottles, as a good cider can easily turn even those who have sworn off cider into cider lovers, holidays are holidays, and plus with the lower ABV, a bottle doesn’t go as far as wine.

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Manoir de Grandouet AOP Pays d’Auge Cidre

Review of Manoir de Grandouet AOP Pays d’Auge Cidre.  It is my first time trying this one, but I previously tried Manoir de Grandouet’s Cidre Fermier Brut and have tried many other French ciders, such as these.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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:  AOP Pays d’Auge Cidre
Cidery:  Manoir de Grandouet
Cidery Location:  Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  Norman French cidre

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Le Brun, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.  Or, if you are lucky enough to live in France, the Grandouet cidery’s website has a cider locator.

Cider Description:  This bottle conditioned, AOP Pays d’Auge cidre is made in the most traditional cidre-making process.  As a result, it is a very complex and natural product with aromas of baked apples, pears and other white stone fruit supported by complex notes of barnyard with dried herbs and leather.  It presents a very slight bitterness and crisp acidity that helps dry out the cider on the finish.

Cidery Description:  Grandouet is located in the heart of Pays d’Auge at 2 km from the village of Cambremer on the “Route du Cidre”. The terroir and the climate make it a privileged site for cider products.  In this typical farm of the Pays d’Auge, dedicated to apple and milk AOC, the production remains faithful to the traditions and know-how transmitted to the Grandval family for three generations.

It is amazing how old and generational many French cideries are!  Their website has more info on their family cidermaking history (it is in French, but the Chrome browser at least has a translate option, at the right side of the web address area).

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $13)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me

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First Impression:  Light orange amber hue.  High carbonation with foam.  Smells of funk, must, and a hint of sweet bittersweet apple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied with a fluffy fizzy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low funk.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apple pomace and juice, orange, caramel, leather, earth, and must.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I wish I would have tasted this side by side with their Cidre Fermier Brut though, as with my notes from a couple weeks ago, I’m not identifying too many differences between the two.  This one may be a bit smoother and less bitter.

Most Similar to:  Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut,  L’Hermitiére Cidre BrutManoir De Montreuil Cambremer, and Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge.

Closing Notes:  I have one more French cider from Winesellers, Ltd. left to try.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut

Review of Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut.  It is my first time trying this one, but French cidre isn’t new to me; here are some of the ones I’ve tried.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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:  Cidre Fermier Brut
Cidery:  Manoir de Grandouet
Cidery Location:  Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  Norman French cidre, Brut (which means “dry”, but for French cider is typically semi-dry ish, vs. the sweeter “doux”)

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Do you ever notice how French cidery and cidre names all seem to sound the same, and often even the labels look the same?  I have a tough time remembering which ones I’ve tried!  Having a list has definitely come in handy.

Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Le Brun, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.  Or, if you are lucky enough to live in France, the Grandouet cidery’s website has a cider locator.

Cider Description:  After a long and slow fermentation of about 5 months, the cider is bottled and kept in our cellars for more than a year. It develops tannic, smoked and slightly leather aromas.  Lovers of traditional cider will appreciate this cider of character, rustic and drier.  Yellow-orange, it has a slight bitterness which makes it a thirst quenching cider.  This cider can be enjoyed during a meal, accompanied by dishes (meats, fish, seafood) or Norman cheeses (Camembert of Normandy AOP, Pont-L’Evêque PDO and Livarot PDO).  It can also be enjoyed in kir, with a cream of fruits (raspberry, blackberry, blackcurrant).

Cidery Description:  Grandouet is located in the heart of Pays d’Auge at 2 km from the village of Cambremer on the “Route du Cidre”. The terroir and the climate make it a privileged site for cider products.  In this typical farm of the Pays d’Auge, dedicated to apple and milk AOC, the production remains faithful to the traditions and know-how transmitted to the Grandval family for three generations.

It is amazing how old and generational many French cideries are!  Their website has more info on their family cidermaking history (it is in French, but the Chrome browser at least has a translate option, at the right side of the web address area).

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $11)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me (I previously reviewed their Dunkertons cider)

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First Impression:  Moderate orange amber hue.  Moderate carbonation and high foam.  Smells of funky ripe yeasty French apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied, with a very frothy fluffy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins, bitterness, and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of ripe cooked bittersweet apples and pomace, residual yeast, orange, butterscotch, and earth/smoke.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I loved how the ripe apple yeasty funky characteristics of Norman cider were expressed without any perceived sourness, which can be common (such as in Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche).  I liked that this was more rich than fruity.  It would make a great introduction to Normandy cider for someone who had only tried the easier to drink Breton ciders from Brittany France (which are typically completely clean, ie. free of funk and sourness, plus often sweeter).  The funk in this cider was primarily in the scent, and subsided a bit over time, so if you find funk off-putting (like my husband), I’d recommend pouring the cider and letting it sit a bit before drinking.  The level of sweetness was spot-on for me.  It was quite frothy though, which slowed me down a bit while drinking it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Most Similar to: L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (very much so), Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer, and Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge, or for a rare U.S. made French-style cider, 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got to try this cider, as I’m not sure if it is available locally.  I have several other French ciders from the importer/distributor to try next, including another from this same cidery.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?