2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – 2015 Vintage

Review of 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche, a French-style keeved cider.  This is one of two ciders which they released to start off their new Traditions line.  Their Traditions line will replace their separate Traditions brand and focus on barrel aged vintage cider from heirloom apples.  The other is Riverwood, which I’ll be reviewing next.  Two others will soon be released, Afton Field and La Mûre.  Its my first time trying this cider, although I’ve 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 bottles
Style:  American craft French keeved style cider from heirloom apples, oak aged

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Availability:  Limited (only 240 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:  Oregon grown bittersweet heirloom apples.  Old world keeving method.  Aged in French oak casks….Inspired by the bittersweet ciders of France, Cidre Bouché is made with an Old World process called keeving. We start with 100% traditional cider apple varieties like Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Pommes, Dabinett and Muscat de Lense, and then let the fruit ‘sweat’ and intensify in aroma. Next, the apples are crushed and left to soak on the skins before the juice is fermented slowly over the course of a year, and aged in French oak casks. When finished, this keeved cider is rich, thick and brimming with overripe bittersweet apple character. Pairs well with classic French fare— think savory crepes, pork terrine, camembert and blue cheese.

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
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy medium orange amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells slightly funky and apple forward.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acid.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of sourness and bitterness.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, apple pomace, honey, orange, grapefruit, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it, and thought it paired well with Thanksgiving dinner.  It got a bit funkier as it warmed up, so I preferred it cold.  I’m a fan of these sorts of bold and rich ciders, and of (not too funky or sour) French cidre.

Most Similar to:  French cidre.  It definitely seemed true to the style, in between Normandy and Brittany French cidre as it was a bit funky (as Normandy cidre can tend to be), but not overly so.  However, it was a bit higher acidity and more fruity though (although the grapefruit I picked up might have been more from the high acidity than anything else), which was a nice twist.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to trying the other ciders in their new Traditions line.  I think they made a great choice to release them in smaller 375ml bottles, as it will reduce the price point and increase the number of bottles available.  I also think the switch to keep these under their 2 Towns brand but in a separate category was a smart move.

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

Le Brun Organic Cidre

Review of Le Brun Organic Cidre.  I’ve tried this previously on tap (the only cider I’ve tried from Le Brun), but wanted to give a bottle a go.

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Cider:  Organic Cidre
Cidery:  Le Brun
Cidery Location:  Plovan in the Brittany region of France
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  Brittany French cidre, organic, secondary fermented

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Availability:  semi wide release (imported by Winesellers Ltd., Niles IL)

Cider Description:  This cider presents lightly sweet, fruit and then develops to be more dry as the taste goes on.  Tannins feel fairly high, acidity is moderate and a fairly bitter/sharp to end, with a mild hint of wood in the aftertaste.  This cider has a juicy feel to it, but also has depth and character.

Apple Varieties: Kermerrien, Marie Ménard, Douce Moên, Peau de Chien, Douce Coëtligné

Cidery Description:  Le Brun Cidres have been produced in Brittany, France since 1955.  our cidres are made using the traditional method of natural fermentation of pure pressed juices from handpicked apples

Price:  $10.99
Where Bought:  The Wine Seller in Port Townsend WA, which had a nice cider selection for a small shop, including this one (which I haven’t seen locally lately) and a couple others I hadn’t even seen in Seattle (I picked up one other bottle too)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Amber orange hue.  Moderate carbonation with foam upon pouring.  Smells of rich apples with hints of funk and must.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, funk, and tannins.  No sourness or bitterness.  Notes of bittersweet apples, apple juice, apple pomace, orange, floral, and must.  Moderate length finish.  High apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  I’m a fan of Brittany France ciders in general too (but not typically Normandy France ciders, which tend to have sourness).  However, I remember it tasting more clean (no funk) when I tried it on tap, which I prefer.

Most Similar to:  Other ciders from Brittany France, such as Celt and Dan Armor, which I think I slightly prefer, and are both more affordable too ($8 for a four pack of 11.2oz bottles of Celt and $5 for a 750ml bottle of Dan Armor – only sold at Trader Joe’s).

Closing Notes:   This is a nice selection from Le Brun.  I hope I can find their other varieties locally to try (I know at least a couple others get imported).

Have you tried French Cidre?  What did you think?

PACORY Cidre Le Costaud

Review of PACORY’s Cidre Le Costaud.  This is a cidre from Normandy France.  I’ve previously tried their Poire Domfront (French perry).

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Cider:  Cidre Le Costaud
Cidery:  PACORY
Cidery Location:  Mantilly Normandy France
ABV:  7.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked champagne bottle
Style:  French cidre made from traditional cider apples

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Availability:  selected regions in the U.S.A. (imported by Charles Neal Selections, Richmond CA)

Cider Description:  This cider was made from a large number of traditional apple varieties grown on standard rootstock on our farm in southern Normandy.  It was aged for three months in old calvados barrels.

Cidery Description:  In the heart of the Bocage Domfrontais, pear and apple trees dominate our prairies.A from fruits selected with great care, we produce Calvados, Pommeau, Cider and Poiré. Created with passion and know-how acquired over many generations, our products are recognized for their exceptional quality. It is with pleasure that we invite you to discover these treasures Domfrontais.

Price:  $14.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had previously enjoyed their Poire Domfront (French perry), so I thought I’d give this variety of their cidre a try, especially as I love barrel aged cider.

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First Impression:  Hazy amber orange brown.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells rich, sweet, and slightly sour.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied, frothy mouthfeel.  Low tartness, bitterness, sourness, funk, and tannins.  Moderate acidity.  Notes of overly ripe apples, honey, orange, and brown sugar.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  This wasn’t what I expected.  I didn’t pick up any oak or Calvados (apple brandy) notes from the barrel aging.  I’m not a fan of sourness or funk, so I didn’t really enjoy this cider.  Their Domfront Poire wasn’t sour, so I hadn’t expected sourness.

Most Similar to:  Other cidre from Normandy France, which often has some sourness and funk, although is typically drier.

Closing Notes:   I think I’ll stick to the cidre from Brittany France, which is more to my liking, as it typically lacks the sourness and funk.

Have you tried PACORY Cidre Le Costaud?  What did you think?

Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer

Review of Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer, a cidre from Normandy France (and yes I’m very glad I only need to spell it correctly, not try to pronounce it!).  I’m typically more of a fan of Breton than Normand French cidres, but the reviews of this one caught my interest.

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Cider:  Cambremer
Cidery:  Manoir De Montreuil
Cidery Location:  Cidre Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  4.5% or 5.0% (the front & back labels contradicted themselves)
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  keeved Normand French cidre

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Availability:  semi wide release, international

Description:  The Giard family has been producing Calvados in the Pays d’Auge for 11 generations. The Domaine du Montreuil orchard was planted on land formerly covered by the sea, hence its distinctive mineral flavor. They produce this cider in vats that are more than a century old, so you’re getting the classic, traditional-style cider of this region, although it is not too funky. Rustic yes, delicious yes, authentic yes, expensive no.

Price:  $10.75
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’m a fan of sweet, bubbly, and rich French ciders, and after looking this one up, it sounded like I’d enjoy it.

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First Impression:  Pale caramel amber hue.  Moderate to high carbonation and foam.  Smells yeasty and a bit funky, although fairly simple–mainly of baked apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Frothy mouthfeel/texture.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, funk, and tannins.  No sourness or bitterness.  Notes of yeast, baked apple, honey, and caramel.  Quick finish length.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  The taste of this cider seemed quite in between typical Breton (Brittany) and Normand (Normandy) French ciders.  It had the sweetness and approachability of a Breton cider, with a bit of funk of a Normand cider.  It avoided the sourness and strong funk of some other Normand ciders I’ve tried though. I don’t mind a bit of funk (often referred to as “barnyard” flavor), but I haven’t yet acquired the taste for sour ciders.  Surprisingly my husband was much more put off by the scent of it than I was.

Most Similar to:  Other French ciders.  It reminds me a lot of Celt, with a bit of funk and more yeast.

Closing Notes:   This was a unique and enjoyable cider.  It showed me that not all Normand ciders are strongly sour, funky, and dry.

Have you tried any French ciders?  What did you think?

Stella Artois Cidre

Review of Stella Artois Cidre.  I tried this quite awhile ago, and thought I’d give it another go as I’ve seen a lot of talk lately.  It was first released in the U.S. in May 2013.  Note that although this is touted as a Belgian brand, per the bottle, the version sold in the U.S. is made in New York.

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Cider:  Cidre
Cidery:  Stella Artois (Anheuser-Busch)
Cidery Location:  Baldwinsville NY
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  commercial American hard cider, Belgian-style

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Availability:  wide release

Description from their website:  Let me first tell you a little something about Stella Artois Cidre. Of course, I don’t want to blow my own trumpette, but this is an elixir so superb, so splendid, it is quite simply magnifique.  Cidre is quite well known for its balanced, dry blend; the result of hand-picking our apples – of which only the finest will do. It’s the perfect accoutrement to any afternoon of sophisticated leisure. Simply open, pour and enjoy.

Price:  ~$2.50 for a single bottle (runs $8-10 a four pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  This cider can be found most everywhere.

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells like sweet apple juice and sugar, without much complexity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Low tartness and acidity.  No sourness, bitterness, or funk.  Apple-forward.  Like the scent, I really didn’t pick up any other flavor notes to it.  Light to medium bodied.  Quick finish.  Very high sessionability.

My Opinion:  From the ingredient list its definitely apparent this is commercial cider (apple juice concentrate, sucrose, flavor, color, etc), but I found it more drinkable than many commercial ciders, which can tend towards sweet & syrupy.  It also tastes a bit drier than its 17 grams of sugar per 12oz bottle and its scent would suggest.  However, when the best thing they can find to say about their cider is that they hand pick the apples, its pretty sad.  Apparently almost all apples are hand picked in the U.S. as machinery can’t detect the ripeness of an apple, although in the UK and such they will use tree shakers for cider apples.

Most Similar to:  Other commercial ciders which aren’t overly sweet

Closing Notes:   Overall Stella Cidre is not something I’d seek out, but if its all that is available, I’ll drink it.

Have you tried Stella Cidre?  What did you think?