Stem Cider Pommeau

Review of Stem Cider’s Pommeau.  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve also had their Le Chene, Malice, Blood Orange Cyser, Remedy, Branch and Bramble, and Whiskey Barrel-Aged Apricot, and also tried Pommeau from 2 Towns, Etienne Dupont, Finnriver, Tieton, Traditions, and Wandering Aengus.

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Cider:  Pommeau
Cidery:  Stem Ciders
Cidery Location:  Denver Colorado
ABV:  18%
How Supplied:  375ml corked bottles
Style:  American craft Pommeau (apple brandy + apple cider), oak aged

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Availability:  Only at their tap room, released December 2015

Cider Description:  Apple dessert wine aged in oak for 8 months.  Full of cherry and fruit skin notes, with distinctive oakiness perfect for sipping slowly.

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.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  Stem’s tap room
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband picked this up for me when travelling.  He made a special trip to the Stem tasting room just to buy me cider.  I’m spoiled!

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<cider tasting event glasses like this one from Cider Rite of Spring make perfect vessels for Pommeau, ice cider, and the like!>

First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells sweet, rich, and of caramel.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramel, brown sugar, leather, and orange.  Long finish.  High apple flavor.  Very low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  No overt oak influence.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it didn’t seem to have quite the amount of complexity of some others I’ve tried (possibly as it wasn’t quite as sweet as some).  However, it is more budget friendly than many other options.  This year’s Stem Pommeau release was aged 20 months, so I’m curious if that gave it more complexity than this batch.

Most Similar to:  The Traditions Pommeau, as it had a similar level of sweetness and complexity.

Closing Notes:   My favorites remain the 2 Towns, Etienne Dupont, and Wandering Aengus Pommeaux (the plural of Pommeau…very cool).  However, I wouldn’t say I’ve disliked any Pommeau I’ve tried.

Have you ever tried Pommeau?  What did you think?

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Finnriver Pommeau

Review of Finnriver’s Pommeau, which is a mix of cider and apple brandy.  I tried a bottle pour of this awhile back.  I picked up this bottle in February when my husband took me to Port Townsend for cider tasting for my birthday (see here, plus posts on Finnriver, Eaglemount, and Alpenfire).  I’ve previously tried most of Finnriver’s line-up; see here.

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Cider:  Pommeau
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  18.5%
How Supplied:  500ml square short bottle (cork in cap)
Style:  American craft Pommeau apple wine (cider + apple brandy), oak aged

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Availability:  Likely difficult to find outside of their Port Townsend area cidery & farm and their booth at the Ballard Farmer’s Market.  In general, Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.).

Cider Description: Fermenting at Finnriver is a process of discovery – a blend of ancient wisdom, modern chemistry, farm ingenuity, and nature’s magic.  We are inspired by the generosity of the orchard and by the possibilities of the apple.  We hope this bottle of elegant, aged apple wine gives you a rich and rewarding sip of the earth’s bounty.

Pommeau in general is made from apple juice (typically unfermented but sometimes fermented) and apple brandy.  This one was oak aged, and released in January 2016.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.  They have a tasting room open seven days a week, noon to 5pm, and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route along with Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $40
Where Bought:  Finnriver’s tasting room in Chimacum WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried this awhile back when some friends brought it to a cider tasting party at my house.

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First Impression:  Medium amber.  Still.  Smells boozy, apple forward, and of caramelized and brown sugars.

Tasting Notes:  I preferred this with an ice cube or two.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, honey, leather, oak, and hints of spice.  Long warming finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I really liked it.  However, it wasn’t nearly as good as when I tried it before; the flavor seemed muted and it had an odd texture in the mouth.  Maybe as this bottle had a lot of floating particulates (yeast?).

Most Similar to:  Other Pommeau.  Besides Finnriver, I’ve tried selections from 2 Towns (2015 release), Traditions (2 Towns, 2013 release), Etienne Dupont, and Wandering Aengus.  I’d put Finnriver’s Pommeau somewhere in the middle of the list as far as my favorites go.  I like the sweet flavorful ones best.

Closing Notes:   This was a special treat!  One of the great things about Pommeau is that due to the high alcohol content, it has a longer shelf life after opening it than other ciders, so I can enjoy this bottle for weeks to come.

Have you tried Finnriver Pommeau?  What did you think?

2 Towns Pommeau – 2013 Harvest / 2015 Release

Review of the 2013 harvest / 2015 release of Pommeau from 2 Towns.  This is their third release (the first two were under their Traditions Ciderworks brand), discussed in this article.  I’ve also tried their 2011 harvest / 2013 release of Pommeau under their Traditions Ciderworks brand, and previously reviewed a number of ciders from 2 Towns.

Pommeau is a port-style apple wine related to cider.  It is made from apple brandy (a spirit from distilling apple cider) with either unfermented apple juice or lightly fermented apple cider blended in (cider in this case), then barrel aged.  It is called Calvados when made in Normandy France.

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Cider:  Pommeau (2013 harvest / 2015 release)
Cidery:  2 Towns Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  19%
How Supplied:  375 ml tall frosted glass bottle, wax sealed
Style:  American craft Pommeau made from apple brandy and lightly fermented cider, barrel aged in French oak for 1 year

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Availability:  Limited release (500 cases of 12 bottles made), distributed to CA, ID, IL, MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Our Pommeau is made from locally grown traditional bittersweet cider apples which are hand-harvested and ‘sweated’ at cool temperatures. After the apples have sweetened, the fresh-pressed juice is lightly fermented and then aged with Clear Creek apple eau de vie. Our Pommeau is then matured in French oak barrels for one year. The result is a tremendously complex apple Pommeau that blossoms with aromas of fresh-pressed cider, dried fruit, and wood. This bottle will improve with cellaring for up to 20 years.

Cidery Description:  2 Towns Ciderhouse was founded in Corvallis, Oregon, in 2010 with the mission of bringing cider back to the people. 2 Towns Ciderhouse is a proud pioneer in the resurgence of America’s first beverage of choice. We planted our own orchard in 2012 to help revitalize old-world heirloom apples. We are committed to supporting local apple growers by insisting on using the finest fresh-pressed 100 percent Northwest apples and never take shortcuts in the cider-making process. Our process includes careful fermentation and no added sugar or essence flavorings, allowing the naturally fermented ingredients to speak for themselves. Named for two towns in our locale, Corvallis and Eugene, 2 Towns Ciderhouse has become one of the most award-winning and recognized ciders in the West.

Price:  $25
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had heard awhile back that 2 Towns made Pommeau, and read an article on their 2015 release in the Fall, so I started looking.  At first I only found their 2013 release, but then the Schilling Cider House decided to carry the 2015 release.

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First Impression:  Rich amber orange hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells alcohol-forward, of rich ripe apples, oak, dried fruit, leather, brown sugar, caramel, burnt sugar, and vanilla.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Low acidity and tartness.  A hint of tannins.  No sourness, bitterness, or funk.  Notes of rich ripe apples, oak, dried fruit, leather, brown sugar, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches.  Medium to full bodied.  Very long warming finish.  Moderate to strong apple influence.  Low to moderate barrel influence.  Very low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Amazing!  I love how flavorful this is.

Most Similar to:  I’ve only had four Pommeaux (the plural of Pommeau), so I don’t have much to compare to.  However, I really enjoy this 2 Towns Pommeau, as well as the Finnriver Pommeau.  The Finnriver Pommeau (reviewed here) is also quite flavorful and fuller bodied.

Closing Notes:   Pommeau is a unique cider related beverage to try, and I look forward to trying more.  This is my favorite Pommeau so far!  I plan to buy at least one more bottle to “cellar” for awhile.

Have you tried 2 Towns Pommeau?  What did you think?

Traditions Ciderworks (2 Towns) Pommeau – 2011 Harvest / 2013 Release

Review of the 2011 harvest / 2013 release of Pommeau from Traditions Ciderworks, made by 2 Towns.  2013 was their first release of Pommeau, although there have been two releases since then, in 2014 and 2015.  Note that 2 Towns’ Traditions Ciderworks brand has since been absorbed into their regular 2 Towns line of ciders.  I actually purchased this recently after initially not being able to find the 2015 release, and had assumed it was the 2014 release, but when asking 2 Towns some questions I discovered it was actually the 2013 release (the 2014 release was in a frosted Traditions Ciderworks bottle).  I later found the 2015 release (which was labeled under 2 Towns), which I’ll review soon. I’ve previously reviewed a number of ciders from 2 Towns.

Pommeau is a port-style apple wine related to cider.  It is made from apple brandy (a spirit from distilling apple cider) with either unfermented apple juice or lightly fermented apple cider blended in (cider in this case), then barrel aged.  It is called Calvados when made in Normandy France.

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Cider:  Pommeau (2011 harvest / 2013 release)
Cidery:  Traditions Ciderworks (2 Towns Ciderhouse)
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  19%
How Supplied:  375 ml tall clear glass bottle, wax sealed
Style:  American craft Pommeau made from apple brandy and lightly fermented cider, barrel aged in French oak for 1 year

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Availability:  Limited (100 cases of 12 bottles made, sold 2 years ago).  This 2013 release is actually much more limited than their 2015 release, where 500 cases were made.  In general though 2 Towns’ ciders are sold in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL, MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Our Pommeau is made from locally grown traditional bittersweet cider apples which are hand-harvested and ‘sweated’ at cool temperatures. After the apples have sweetened, the fresh-pressed juice is lightly fermented and then aged with Clear Creek apple eau de vie. Our Pommeau is then matured in French oak barrels for one year. The result is a tremendously complex apple Pommeau that blossoms with aromas of fresh-pressed cider, dried fruit, and wood. This bottle will improve with cellaring for up to 20 years.

Wow–20 years…I wonder how they came up with that number?  I believe it though.

Cidery Description:  Traditions Ciderworks produces handmade artisan ciders using only locally sourced Oregon farm grown apples. Inspired by the creativity and flair of Pacific Northwest craft brewers and winemakers, we use time-honored traditions & our own unique style to create exceptional, premium ciders. From the heart of Oregon, near the banks of the Willamette River, Traditions Ciderworks is dedicated to bringing artisan cider out of the past and into the present.

Price:  $32.25
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles (I’ve also seen 2 Towns Pommeau in the Seattle area at the Schilling Cider House and The Cave)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had heard awhile back that 2 Towns made Pommeau, and read an article on their 2015 release in the Fall, so I started looking.

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First Impression:  Rich amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells alcohol-forward, of rich apples, oak, spice, oranges, caramel, and burnt sugar.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Low acidity and tartness.  A hint of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of rich apples, oak, spice, oranges, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla, and leather.  Medium bodied.  Long warming finish.  Moderate apple influence.  Low to moderate barrel influence.  Very low sessionability.

My Opinion:  This is nice, but on the verge of being a bit much for me.  I’m ashamed to admit I enjoyed it with a couple ice cubes; otherwise it seemed a bit too boozy, as it doesn’t have much sweetness (and it was room temperature to start as I didn’t want to rearrange my fridge shelves for the few weeks I kept it open).  I much prefer 2 Towns’ newer 2013 harvest / 2015 release, which I’ll review soon.  I actually e-mailed them about it as the two releases were so different.  They confirmed there were some significant variations in sweetness and tannins due to growing seasons, apple blends, etc.  This 2011 harvest release was drier and had a slightly higher percentage of bittersweet apples than the later releases.  Going forward they plan to have their Pommeau more similar to the 2013 harvest release–sweeter, richer, and more full bodied.

Most Similar to:  I’ve only had four Pommeaux (the plural of Pommeau), so I don’t have much to compare to.  However, this was drier, lighter bodied, and less complex than both the Finnriver Pommeau (review here) and the 2 Towns 2013 harvest / 2015 release Pommeau (review soon).  I think it was more on par as far as sweetness and consistency with Tieton Wind, but I tried that quite awhile ago (before what I even knew what Pommeau was probably!).

Closing Notes:   Pommeau is a unique cider related beverage to try, and I look forward to trying more.  However, the newer 2 Towns Pommeau release is more to my liking than this one.  In fact, I’m planning to buy at least one more bottle to “cellar” for awhile.

Have you tried Traditions Ciderworks (2 Towns) Pommeau?  What did you think?