E.Z. Orchards ‘Pomme’ Pommeau

Review of E.Z. Orchards’ Pommeau, ‘Pomme’, an apple dessert wine (cider fortified with apple brandy).  It is my first time trying this, but I have tried Pommeaux from 2 Towns, Etienne DupontFinnriver, Stem, Tieton, Traditions, and Wandering Aengus, and have tried E.Z. Orchards’ Semi DryRoman BeautyHawk HausPoire, and Williamette Valley 2011 Cidre.

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Cider:  Pomme
Cidery:  E.Z. Orchards
Cidery Location:  Salem OR (but bottled in Rickreal OR)
ABV:  17.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles (with a re-usable plastic cap with attached cork)
Style:  American artisan Pommeau (cider from bittersweet cider apples, fortified with apple brandy), barrel aged for 2 years

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Availability:  Limited release, through Artisanal Imports, although in general EZ Orchards’ ciders are sold in CA, OR, and WA

Cider Description:  The body and texture of Pomme is of tree-ripened fruit and fresh baked apple, with a subtle toasted wood and winter fruit aroma. The prominent tannin structure of the fruit is defined but not overwhelming, contributing a lasting, elegant finish. The alcohol is softened by extended aging, showing warmth and livening the baked, tree-ripened apple nuance.

Here is a great article on this year’s ‘Pomme’ release, including quotes from the cidermaker, Kevin Zielinski.  Based on that info, I must have a bottle from a previous year (as this is a higher ABV), which doesn’t surprise me, as these sorts of high end releases often sell slowly.

Cidery Description:  E.Z. Orchards is a family-owned and operated farm, orchard and cidery located in Salem, Oregon. The Zielinski family has been cultivating the bounty of Willamette Valley since 1929, and began specifically growing cider apples in 2000, reshaping its entire operation around their production. Through traditional French cider-making methods, E.Z. Orchards crafts world-class, perfectly blended ciders from ground to glass. Learn more about the cidery at www.ezorchards.com.

Price:  $24
Where Bought:  Capitol Cider in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It was on their bottle list.  It had been on my radar as I had read about it online, where it is well reviewed.  They also offer bottle pours and flights of Pommeaux.

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First Impression:  Dark amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of boozy syrupy rich apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, tannins, and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramel, brown sugar, leather, orange, coffee, vanilla, and oak.  Long warming finish.  High apple flavor, complexity, and flavor intensity.  Very low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Rich and complex, whats not to like?  However, it was a bit less smooth and more harsh than some others I’ve had, possibly as it is a bit drier and higher ABV.  I think this is ideally drank when well-chilled, and I even dropped in one small ice cube (which I think is acceptable as it is more brandy than cider).

Most Similar to:  Stem Ciders Pommeau 2016 release and Traditions Pommeau 2013 release (Traditions was a 2 Towns brand which has since been absorbed)

Closing Notes:  2 Towns‘ Pommeau continues to be my favorite, although I have enjoyed every Pommeaux I’ve tried.  This E.Z. Orchards Pommeau was an especially good value as it is a 750ml bottle, but costs only a few dollars more than most 375ml bottles of Pommeau.  However, I would personally prefer paying less for a smaller bottle, as it is less of a commitment, and Pommeau isn’t something I’d drink in large quantities.  This bottle did well in the fridge for the few weeks it took me to drink it, and didn’t have any flavor changes.

Have you tried Pommeau?  What did you think?

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EZ Orchards Roman Beauty

Review of EZ Orchards’ Roman Beauty cider.  I tried this before (see here), but didn’t do a full review.  I’ve also tried their Semi DryHawk HausPoire, and Williamette Valley 2011 Cidre.

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Cider:  Roman Beauty
Cidery:  EZ Orchards Cidre
Cidery Location:  Rickreal Oregon
ABV:  4.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American artisan cider, predominantly made from Roman Beauty heirloom apples

Availability:  Likely only in California, Oregon, and Washington

Cider Description:  Roman Beauty Cider is named for the heirloom apple that provides the predominant juice pressed for this blend.  We have been growing this apple variety at E.Z. Orchards since 1929.  Fermented cold and slow to retain a ripe apple aroma, Roman Beauty is a semi-dry cider with mild acidity.

Cidery Description:  We have been orchardists since the 1920s when we began to grow Roman Beauty apples on the farm. When we began specifically producing cidre apples in 2000, the entire orchard was transformed around that intent and slowly took shape. Surrounding the orchards, the larger farm produces a wide variety of fruits that diversify the land and aid in the pollination process, including peaches, pears, and hazelnuts.  Today, we grow a wide variety of heirloom cidre apples including French and English bittersweets, and American semi-sharps. In the Willamette Valley of Oregon where we farm, the ground is an ancient seabed full of rich and nutritious soil. With so much nutrition available to the trees, we have to suppress their vigor through pruning and selection to ensure that each apple receives the most intense nurturing for flavor and aromatics.  We grow our apples with specific cidre blends in mind. As you walk the grounds, it becomes clear that it’s organized around specific cultivation and harvesting techniques, enabling us to manage a precise maturation on the tree that we improve with every year’s lessons. 

Price:  $9.00
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this when some friends bought a bottle at the cider house and shared some with me.

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First Impression:  Light gold yellow hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild and funky.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Moderate funk.  No bitterness or sourness.  Notes of partially baked apples, honey, lemon, and a hint of spice.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really like this cider.  However, this batch was quite different than what I tried a couple years ago; that time it was completely clean, and this time it was significantly funky.  However, batch variability and funkiness are to be expected when using unpredictable spontaneous (wild yeast) fermentation.

Most Similar to:  It reminds me some of Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented (but Roman Beauty is more flavorful, sweeter, and easier to drink) and Eden Guineveres Pearls (but Roman Beauty is drier, less acidic, and less flavorful).

Closing Notes:  I hope to be able to try more ciders from EZ Orchards.  However, they seem to be getting more difficult to find in the Seattle area.

Have you tried cider from EZ Orchards?  What did you think?

Understood in Motion 02 (Angry Orchard & EZ Orchards Collaboration)

Review of Understood in Motion 02, Angry Orchard’s second release in the collaboration series, this time with EZ Orchards.  The first was with Eden Specialty Ciders and released nearly a year ago (see my review of Understood in Motion 01 here).

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  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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Cider:  Understood in Motion 02
Cidery:  Angry Orchard & EZ Orchards
Cidery Location:  Walden NY & Salem OR
ABV:  7.2%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft cider from bittersweet & heirloom apple varieties, wild yeast fermented, partially Cognac barrel aged, dry & still

 

Availability:  Angry Orchard’s facility in Walden NY and at select locations in Oregon, released August 2017

Cider Description:  The east meets west coast with Understood in Motion 02, a collaboration between Angry Orchard Hard Cider and E.Z. Orchards Cidre.  The cider is a homage to style, tradition, and a shared respect for the integrity of the fruit.  Apples used are Bittersweet Muscadet de Lense and Marie Menard from Oregon, and heirloom, acid-forward Gold Rush and Northern Spy from New York.  The fruit was naturally fermented in a process that requires very little intervention but lots of careful attention.

Angry Orchard’s Ryan Burk and EZ Orchards’ Kevin Zielinski worked together on this cider over the last year.  This article has more information.

Price:  n/a (retails for $25)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about it online.

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First Impression:  Still (no carbonation).  Light pumpkin yellow hue.  Smells mild, of citrus and must.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness, sourness, and funk.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, straw, cork, honey, must, and wood.  Moderate length warming finish, which is when a slight Congac flavor shines through.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high complexity.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low barrel influence.  Low to moderate spirit influence.

My Opinion:  I liked it, but didn’t love it.  I was hoping for more bittersweet apple flavor.  Although this definitely wasn’t a fully heirloom apple cider (as the acidity was muted), the bittersweets didn’t get to shine through, as it was lacking their richness.  The flavor notes I got from this were really interesting and unique.

Suggestions:  I liked this cider best in between fridge and room temperature, as the complexity increased as it warmed up.  I think it would taste good with something creamy, like cheese or a cream-based soup.

Most Similar to:  A mild farmhouse-style cider, such as releases from Wrangletown, Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented, and Angry Orchard Walden Hollow.

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to try these special releases not available locally – I’m spoiled with these samples!

Have you tried any of the Angry Orchard special releases?  What did you think?

E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley Cidre 2011

Review of E.Z. Orchards’ Williamette Valley Cidre 2011.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I have previously sampled their Semi Dry, Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus, and Poire.

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Cider:  Williamette Valley Cidre 2011
Cidery:  E.Z. Orchards
Cidery Location:  Rickreall OR
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American Artisan cider from French cider apple varieties, nothing else (no sulfites)

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Availability:  CA, OR, and WA, although this is a very old release

Description:  The Pioneers who settled Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1850’s must have marveled at their good fortune. The soil was rich, the water plentiful, the winters mild, and summers ideal, crops seemed to burst from the ground. For more than 150 years small family farms have dominated the Willamette Valley – one of the most productive and diverse agricultural areas in the world. The Zielinski Family and E.Z. Orchards are part of this history and ongoing commitment to the land.

E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre.

They use traditional French cider making methods–pressing their apples in a rack and cloth press, fermenting with wild yeast in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 4-6 months, and bottling before fermentation is complete to allow secondary fermentation to take place in the glass.  EZ Orchards has been growing apples since the 1920s.  They were one of the first in the U.S. to plant cider apple varieties, starting in 2000.

Price:  $17.99
Where Bought:  A natural grocery store in a small town in Northern California in December.  I haven’t seen this variety sold in the last couple years in the Seattle area.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I was super impressed with this store’s selection for now being in a major city or cider region.  I picked up a number of bottles from several cidermakers and packed them in my suitcase for the flight home to Seattle.

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First Impression:  Light pumpkin amber hue.  Moderate carbonation with significant foam.  Smells rich, apple-forward, and tannic.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied with a frothy texture.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins.  Low bitterness.  Moderate funk.  Hints to low sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, yeast, orange, grapefruit, and lemon.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it but didn’t love it.  From the scent, I was hoping for more richness and tannins.  The citrus notes and sourness were a surprise.

Most Similar to:  A mix of a French and Spanish cider.  It had the apple and yeast forward flavor of a French cidre with the citrus, funk and sourness of a Spanish cider.  It was the later I didn’t like as much.

Closing Notes:  I look forward to trying more E.Z. Orchards ciders.  So far my favorite is Roman Beauty.

Have you tried E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley Cidre?  What did you think?

 

EZ Orchards Poire

Review of EZ Orchards’ Poire, a French-style perry.  Note that perry (made only from pears) varies from pear cider (made from apples & pears).  I’ve tried a few varieties from them–Semi Dry, Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus.

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Cider:  Poire
Cidery:  EZ Orchards
Cidery Location:  Rickreall OR
ABV:  5.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  French-style perry made from heirloom & dessert pear varieties

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Availability:  As seasonally available / while supplies last, at least in OR, WA, IL, and NY.

Cider Description:  Poire is named from the French word for “pear”, and is completely appropriate, natural and perfect for this uniquely delicious drink. EZ Orchards Poire is made entirely from estate-grown Forelle, Comice and Bosc winter pears—no apples. The fruit is carefully cleaned, milled and pressed. No yeast is added to the juice and no sulfites are added. Naturally-occurring yeasts are allowed to ferment over months at low temperatures. Finally, when the sugars are depleted—or nearly so—Poire is bottled and allowed to mature and condition. Like all EZ Orchards cider and cidre, it is never released until it is ready.

Cidery Description:  The Pioneers who settled Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1850’s must have marveled at their good fortune. The soil was rich, the water plentiful, the winters mild, and summers ideal, crops seemed to burst from the ground. For more than 150 years small family farms have dominated the Willamette Valley – one of the most productive and diverse agricultural areas in the world. The Zielinski Family and E.Z. Orchards are part of this history and ongoing commitment to the land.

E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre.

They use traditional French cider making methods–pressing their apples in a rack and cloth press, fermenting with wild yeast in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 4-6 months, and bottling before fermentation is complete to allow secondary fermentation to take place in the glass.

Price:  ~$9
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I remembered that although I haven’t had much luck with enjoying American perries, I have liked a couple French poires, so I thought I’d give it a try.

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First Impression:  Pale straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation with tiny bubbles.  Smells of juicy pear, mango, pineapple, lemon, mineral, and vanilla.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Frothy and creamy texture.   Moderate carbonation (more than visibly apparent).  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  A hint of tannins.  A hint of bitterness.  No sourness.  No funk.  Notes of juicy pear, mango, pineapple, lemon, mineral, and vanilla.  Compared to the scent, the pear was less intense and the tropical & citrus were more intense.  Moderate length finish.  Mild pear intensity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  Refreshing for summer, with subtle complexity, and wine-like qualities.  I liked it, as did my husband.  This is the first American perry I’ve truly enjoyed.  Oddly enough I tend more towards pear ciders, as they typically are more flavorful (although less complex), although neither perry or pear cider is a favorite of mine.

Most Similar to:  Nashi Orchards Chojuro Blend Asian Pear Perry (it was also complex, wine-like, and semi-dry, although it had some sourness & funk).  The style of Poire seemed in between that of the American and French perries I’ve tried…the American Snowdrift Perry for example had a low flavor intensity, less complexity, and some bitterness…the French perry Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront for example was sweeter, richer, and higher carbonation.  Although this perry remained fairly dry, it was complex.

Closing Notes:   This was enjoyable.  Roman Beauty (cider) remains my favorite from EZ Orchards though.  I look forward to trying more from them–I think the only variety I haven’t tried is their Dry.

Have you tried EZ Orchards Poire?  What did you think?