Review of Stem Ciders’ Le Chene, a red zinfandel barrel aged cider from Denver Colorado. This is the first cider I’ve tried from them. They aren’t available in Washington (or anywhere outside of Colorado), but my husband brought me back a bottle. Unfortunately I still haven’t got to try their widely-reviewed “Banjo” bourbon barrel aged cider (I had two people look, but I think its out of season).
Cider: Le Chene
Cidery: Stem Ciders
Cidery Location: Denver Colorado
How Supplied: 750ml bottles (and kegs)
Style: American craft cider made from traditional cider apples, red zinfandel barrel aged
Availability: Denver metro area, year round, at these retailers.
Cider Description: While it prides itself on being well-rounded, classy and complex, Le Chene is a cider that knows how to have a good time. A blend of fun-loving traditional cider apples are combined, fermented dry and then aged to perfection in oak wine barrels. The end result is a mature cider that puts just the right amount of Civilized into your Debauchery.
Red Zinfandel barrel aged. Smoke, caramel and vanilla on the nose, smooth, velvet mouth feel and slight oak tannin astringency on the finish. (Pronunciation: luh shen)
Cidery Description: At Stem Ciders, we are committed to creating ciders of the highest quality that honor the purity and complexity that is inherent to the apple. We can’t wait to introduce you to your perfect cider match. We are dedicated to reviving the cider tradition, which goes far beyond what you enjoy in your glass. We hold our growers in the highest regard, and by fostering relationships with them we reward their hard work and promote the regrowth of heirloom apple cultivation. We love our home-base in Denver, and embrace the Colorado lifestyle that makes us lug a bottle to share up a mountain to enjoy a drink with a view. Most importantly, we love nothing more than seeing that smile on your face when you have your first sip of one of our crisp, refreshing ciders.
Stem Ciders has a tasting room in Denver.
Where Bought: Daveco Liquors in Thornton CO
Where Drank: home
How Found: Stem Ciders’ website. I made my husband a list of ciders I’d be interested in him bringing home from Colorado. 🙂
First Impression: Light straw yellow with the slightest pink tint which actually showed more in the photo than in real life. Low carbonation upon pouring. Smells mild, of citrus, oak, green apple, and floral.
Tasting Notes: Dry with hints of residual sugar. Low carbonation. Light to medium bodied. Mild bitterness. Moderate tartness. Moderate to strong acidity. Hints of tannins, sourness, and funk. Notes of citrus, oak, green apple, floral, mineral, stone fruit, baked apple, and vanilla. Moderate length finish. Moderate oak barrel influence. I enjoyed this much more when it breathed and warmed up a bit from fridge temperature…it seemed to smooth it out a bit, and led to some hints of red zinfandel.
My Opinion: This is a probably a wine-lovers cider, which I’m admittedly not. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I truly appreciated its subtle complexity. I think I would have liked to have picked up the smoke and caramel notes mentioned in the description. Also of note is that this cider was a great value–significantly less than comparable ciders in Washington would cost ($10.99 vs. $15-20).
Most Similar to: Sonoma Cider’s Dry Zider, which is also aged in red zinfandel barrels, dry, and wine-like. I prefer Le Chene, which I found to have more oak flavor (but less red zinfandel flavor) and more complexity.
Closing Notes: This is a really unique cider that I’m glad I got to try. I look forward to finding their Banjo cider someday, which seems to make every list of best barrel aged ciders.
Have you tried Stem Ciders? What did you think?