Eden Sparkling Semi-Dry

Review of Eden Ice Cider’s Sparkling Semi-Dry cider.  This is made using the traditional labor-intensive methode champenoise, which makes naturally sparkling cider.  I previously tried Eden’s Sparkling Dry cider, and this is described as the same cider (although made with different apple varieties) with a bit of their ice cider to add some additional sweetness (which also adds an additional 1% ABV).

I sampled this cider on New Year’s Eve, and it unfortunately turned out to be a poorly sealed bottle whose taste wasn’t as intended, and Eleanor at Eden was awesome enough to send me a sample bottle to replace it (and two ice ciders to review!).  Cider from the original bottle was nearly flat, and was on the dry, funky, and sour side….the cap must have been sealed enough so it wouldn’t leak, but allowed for air transfer.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Eden Ice Cider.  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:  Sparkling Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Eden Ice Cider
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  9.5%
How Supplied:  375ml or 750ml capped champagne bottle
Style:  American methode champenoise sparkling cider

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Availability: At least in AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, SC, VT, WA, British Columbia.  Eden also offers online sales when allowed by state.

Cider Description: Eden Sparkling Ciders are made with locally grown apples. We use the same blend of traditional and heirloom apples that we use for our ice ciders, and then add classic Bittersweet cider varieties. True cider variety apples are sweeter and have much more tannin than eating apples.  They are pretty awful to eat so you won’t ever find them in a grocery store.   The Sparkling Dry is made with Kingston Black.  The Sparkling Semi-Dry is made with Dabinett and Yarlington Mill.

The cider is fermented and aged in French oak puncheons for a year, the bottles with a secondary fermentation that is created with additional juice rather than sugar.  After another 6 months each bottle is hand-disgorged in a careful process and removes the yeast but retains the vibrant natural effervescence of the in-bottle fermentation.  For our Semi-Dry, we add in a little bit of our ice cider for sweetness.

Eden Sparkling ciders are full-flavored, tannic, and clean with a champagne-like mouth feel and balanced acidity.  They are unfiltered and unpasteurized, with higher ABV and much less sweetness than mass marketed industrial hard ciders.

Cidery Description: Eden Orchards and Eden Ice Cider began on a trip to Montreal in 2006 when we first tasted ice cider and wondered why nobody was making it on our side of the border.  We had dreamed for years of working together on a farm in the Northeast Kingdom; it was a dream that had vague outlines including an apple orchard, cider, and fermentation of some sort.  That night we looked at each other and knew ice cider was it.  In April 2007, we bought an abandoned dairy farm in West Charleston, Vermont and got to work.  Since then we have planted over 1,000 apple trees, created 5 vintages of Eden Vermont Ice Ciders, and have introduced a new line of Orleans Apertif Ciders.  Out goals are to create healthy soils and trees in our own orchard, to support out Vermont apple orchard partners who do the same, to minimize our carbon footprint, to contribute to the economic and environmental health of our employees and our Northeast Kingdom community, and most of all to make world-class unique ciders that truly reflect our Vermont terroir.

They have a tasting bar on the main floor of the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in downtown Newport VT.  Their current product line includes at least eight ice ciders, two Aperitif ciders, and dry & semi-dry sparkling ciders.  They also have a cider club where members get access to special release ciders not available to the public.

Price:  n/a, but retail price of $15-$20 (750ml)
Where Bought:  n/a (but originally the Schilling Cider House)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I heard about Eden on Facebook, met cidermaker Eleanor Leger at an event surrounding Cider Summit Seattle 2015 where I tried their Sparkling Dry cider, tried their Heirloom Blend cider at Cider Summit (and my husband bought me a bottle for our anniversary, reviewed here), and decided Semi-Dry would be a great New Year’s Eve cider selection.

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First Impression:  Honey-pumpkin light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation with tiny bubbles (even before opening the bottle, with a gentle shake, I could tell it had more carbonation than the first).  Smells luscious, of honey, tropical fruit, coconut, apricot, floral, and high-tannin cider apples (Dabinett and Yarlington Mill).

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Moderate acidity.  Mild tartness.  Moderate tannins.  Slight hints of bitterness, funk, and sourness.  Flavor notes of tropical fruit, apricot, peach, honey, and green apple.  Slight richness.  Moderate carbonation with a fizzy mouthfeel.  Medium bodied.  Moderate apple influence.  Mild oak barrel influence.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion: Yum!  It had a lovely flavor complexity–you could really taste the hint of ice cider in comparison to the Sparkling Dry.  The ice cider added both sweetness and additional flavor (especially tropical fruit).  My husband also really enjoyed it.  All in all I think this cider is awesome.  Its also a wonderful value, as the apple varieties are expensive, and the production method is labor-intensive.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had other methode champenoise ciders such as Finnriver’s Artisan Sparkling Brut Cider, but this one was less champagne-like (more fruitiness).  The tropical fruit notes also reminded me of ciders such as Eaglemount Quince and Slyboro Old Sin, except with added carbonation.

Closing Notes:   Eden Ice Cider really makes some amazing ciders.  I look forward to trying the Honeycrisp and Northern Spy (barrel aged) ice ciders Eleanor sent!

Have you tried Eden’s Sparkling Dry or Semi-Dry ciders?  What did you think?

Finnriver Artisan Sparkling Brut Cider

Review of Finnriver’s Artisan Sparkling Brut cider, made using the traditional labor intensive méthode champenoise.  I’ve tried a good portion of Finnriver’s lineup, but I think this is the first time I’ve tried a special release cider.

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Cider:  Artisan Sparkling Brut
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  375ml corked & caged champagne bottle (also more widely available in a 750ml size)
Style:  American méthode champenoise sparkling cider

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Availability:  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.).  However, this is a special release, and likely has more limited availability.

Cider Description:  Crafted using the traditional, labor-intensive méthode champenoise, this bright, naturally carbonated brut champagne-style cider offers an effervescent apple bouquet, tart elements of the orchard, and a crisp, clean finish.  To make this cider, we learned old world methods of secondary fermentation in the bottle that require daily hand turning of each bottle on woodenriddling racks (constructed by our boat-building neighbor Pete), and then disgorging residual yeast sediment one bottle at a time.  This is ‘slow cider’ that results in golden clarity and enduring bubbles in every glass.  A unqiue alternative to champagne that features Washington organic dessert apples at their most sparkling!

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.  I look forward to visiting in February for my birthday!

Price:  $10
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve been wanting to try this cider for awhile, but previously only saw 750ml bottles for about $22, which was more commitment then I was interested in.  When I saw half bottles, I knew it would be perfect to try for New Year’s Eve.  Oddly enough the half bottles were less expensive per ounce too.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Very high carbonation.  Smells dry, crisp, and of yeast, with only a hint of apple.

Tasting Notes:  Completely dry.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  No sourness, bitterness, or funk.  Very champagne-like.  Yeast, floral, citrus, and green apple notes.  Light bodied.  Quick finish.  Moderate sessionability.  Low apple influence.  I enjoyed this cider better as it warmed up from fridge cold.

My Opinion:  This was enjoyable, but not really a style I enjoy (I like a sweeter and richer cider).  It was definitely a sparkling cider, moreso than any other cider I’ve tried I think (but luckily the bottle didn’t overflow when I opened it…the bottle even includes a warning).

Most Similar to:  Dry champagne and other méthode champenoise ciders.

Closing Notes:   This cider is a great champagne alternative and was very appropriate for New Year’s Eve.

Have you tried Finnriver Artisan Sparkling Brut cider?  What did you think?

Argus Fermantables Ciderkin

Review of Ciderkin from Argus Fermentables, a traditional dry sparking cider.  This is the first cider I’ve tried from Texas!  The Fermentables line is a newer branch from Argus, offering cider in six packs instead of 750ml bottles, and currently includes Ciderkin and Ginger Perry (link).  Ciderkin was released Match 2015.  Their traditional cider line is released by vintage and includes a number of sparking options, and they even have a sparkling Tepache (fermented pineapple juice with spices).

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Cider:  Ciderkin
Cidery: Argus Cidery, Argus Fermentables line
Cidery Location:  Austin TX
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied: 12oz glass bottle (six pack)
Availability:  year round, semi-limited release (mostly TX?)

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Cider Description:  Based on nostalgic profiles of ciders everyone first experienced, Argus Ferementables Ciderkin delivers a straightforward apple palate, yet finishes dry and tannic. Traditional Ciderkin is made from reconstituted apple pomace that is pressed and fermented wild to produce a low ABV-dry cider style. Expounding on that tradition, we have employed a yeast blend that finishes dry, yet still preserves a prominent stone fruit nose and apple palate.

Tasting Notes:  Apple, Cherry, Caramel, and Citric Nose. Round apple palate with dry, tannic quick finish. No candy-liger, and exceptional with food.

Cidery Description:  Argus Cidery is the first cidery in Texas, founded in 2010.  They specialize in sparkling and still European-style Basque-influenced ciders and currently use only Texas-grown apples. The Argus Fermentables brand expands the cidery’s reach by featuring ciders that are not necessarily European in style and by sourcing apples from outside the region.

Price:  $2.50 for a single 12oz bottle (priced individually; one source said $10 for a six pack though)
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found: Browsing.  The unique neck-less bottle drew me in, the the low cost and cidery location (Texas of all places) convinced me to give this cider a try.

First Impression: Definitely sparkling (I even waited a minute to take this photo).  Pretty champagne-like color.  Smells dry, of apples & pears?, earthy, of citrus, and acidic.


Opinion:  Dry, but of an easier to drink variety that doesn’t immediately turn me off to the cider like many drier ciders do.  This is a clean & crisp tasting smooth cider which is light & citrusy.  It has a quick finish but some lingering (pleasant) aftertaste.  There is a bit of acidity, bitterness, and astringent drying tannins at the end, but not overly so.  This cider has a bit of an earthy funk.  I even pick up a hint of vanilla.  There is only a slight tartness.  The sparking mouthfeel was enjoyable (I’m typically a big fan of sparkling ciders).  I don’t however notice cherry or caramel as Argus’ tasting notes specified, but I admit my palate isn’t refined.  I would describe Ciderkin as unique but not bold.  I nibbled on some crackers while enjoying this cider before dinner, which worked well.  Ciderkin is a refreshing cider for summer.

Interesting Fact:  As discussed a bit in Argus’ description of this cider, Ciderkin is a traditional term to describe cidermaking by fermenting reconstituted apple pomace (pulp remaining after crushing apples). As the pulp is diluted, the alcohol content is significantly reduced.

Closing Notes:  This is a great introduction to drier ciders, and fairly unique.  Give it a try if you can find some!  From what I’ve found online, it appears very lucky that I was able to find this in my area as I can’t find much of anything about it being released outside of TX.

Have you tried Argus Fermentables Ciderkin, or anything else Argus Cidery produces?  What did you think?