Tue 2 Aug 2016
Eve’s Cidery was founded in 2002, occupying a site south of the Finger Lakes region of New York, near the town of Van Etten (pop., 1,557). This is in Chemung County, the lower line of which runs along the border with Pennsylvania. The proprietors of Eve’s Cidery are James Cummins, Autumn Stoscheck and Ezra Sherman. From a wide variety of heirloom apples, the names of which sound like a roll-call of militia from the Revolutionary War, they fashion a series of sparkling and still ciders that range from tasty and engaging to downright profound. I recently went through three sparkling and one still cider from the 2014 harvest and a dessert wine from 2013 and found them to be striking for their integrity and individuality. I’m informed that the ciders from 2015 are in the process of being released. Except for the dessert wine, the ciders are packaged in standard 750-milliliter bottles. The sparkling ciders are produced in the classic Champagne Method of second fermentation in the bottle.
Samples for review. The website is evescidery.com.
Eve’s Cidery Beckhorn Hollow Traditional Method Sparkling Cider consists of a blend of aromatic, sharp and heirloom apples: Golden Russet, Wealthy, Wixson, Cox Orange Pippin, Northern Spy, Manchurian Crab, Spigold and Idared. It offers a bright golden-yellow hue and is quite fresh and appealing, sporting mild yet persistent effervescence and a pure apple scent with a back-note of spiced pear. The finish is woodsy and peppery, and the whole presentation vibrates to a real malic tang. 8.5 percent alcohol. Production was 310 cases. Excellent. About $19.
The apples that go into Eve’s Cidery Darling Creek Off-Dry, Traditional Method Sparkling Cider are the English bittersweets Ellis Bitter, Ashton Bitter, Major and Bulmers Norman, wild seedlings, balanced with the aromatics and slightly lusher tone of McIntosh and Idared. The residual sugar — the level of sugar remaining after fermentation — for Darling Creek is 1.8 percent, as compared to 0.0 percent r.s. for the Beckhorn Hollow. (Many so-called dry table wines have r.s. around 1.5 to 2 percent.) I found the sweetness here, though, as just a hint of softness and ripeness at the entry, because the cider shades immediately to dryness on the palate. The color is pure medium gold with a faint green tinge, and the cider is animated by a light petillance of effervescence. A knock-out bouquet of fresh apples unfurls a touch of pears with elusive elements of bosky mushroomy spice and a touch of riesling-like petrol. There’s a note of foresty apple-skin tannin and dryness in the finish that only adds complexity to an utterly fresh, charming and beguiling package. 8 percent alcohol. 201 cases. World-class cider. Excellent. About $19.
Eve’s Cidery Autumn’s Gold Dry Traditional Method Sparkling Cider combines tannic English bittersweets Dabinett, Bulmer’s Norman, Major, Ellis Bitter and Somerset Redstreak with elements of Golden Russet, Akane, Goldrush and Idared. The color is bright medium gold, the effervescence delicate and prickly. Autumn’s Gold is the spiciest of these ciders, as if it were infused with Thanksgiving pies, yet it also embodies the bracing bitterness of apple peel and almond skin, with hints of dried apples and apricots. It’s also the only one of these ciders to display a mineral element, just a touch of iodine and iron, as if those apple trees pulled up ore from the depths of the orchards. 8.5 percent alcohol. Production was 424 cases. Excellent. About $19.
I tasted the Eve’s Cidery Albee Hill Still Dry Cider after the three sparkling ciders mentioned above, and I probably should have reversed the order. The delicate spritzy nature of the sparkling ciders lends a natural appeal that’s irresistible. Still, this one seems to tap into the essence of the orchard and its soil and bedrock in a real and authentic manner. The blend is 51 percent Golden Russet, 22 percent Yarlington Mill, 10 Goldrush, 10 Esophus Spitzenburg, 4 Northern Spy, 3 Bedan. It’s the driest, the most austere and autumnal of these ciders, with a sense of apples, pears and melons spiced, macerated and slightly roasted, a hint of burning leaves and a tannic presence of the finish. 8.5 percent alcohol. 226 cases. Excellent. About $15 or $16.
Here’s the real surprise. The Eve’s Cidery Essence Ice Cider comes in at 15.5 percent residual
sugar, a true dessert wine that’s balanced by swingeing acidity and a hint of apple skin tannins. Made from the juices of late season dessert apples — Idared, Jonagold, Melrose, Mutsu and Fuji — cryo-concentrated in winter, this cider offers a medium golden amber hue and seductive aromas of baked apples, apricot and apple tart, bolstered by notes of cloves and sandalwood, smoke, toffee and bittersweet chocolate, peat and heather, all these elements segueing smoothly onto the palate with a distinct honeyed and roasted character and where it feels dense, viscous, supple, succulent and as luscious as money flowing on the tongue. 10 percent alcohol. A remarkable performance. 390 cases. Exceptional. About $26 to $28.