by Carrie Dyke
Note from Karen: Writer Carrie Dykes explores the fascinating new world of vinous ciders in this guest blog. Try one of her recommendations below.
A vinous cider is a combination of cider apples and wine grapes. Vinous ciders can be produced either by co-fermentation or blending after fermentation. Regardless of the process, the resulting beverage is usually fresh and crisp, singing of floral notes and fresh fruit. Styles range from sparkling and slightly effervescent, to still. Some vinous ciders are funky and earthy, while others are austere. Almost all clock in at 8-10% alcohol so they are very easy to drink as well as being delicious.
Here are a few examples of vinous ciders to check out.
OLD WESTMINSTER WINERY “Pip & Berry” (New Windsor, Maryland) $10 Buy here.
Made from stayman winesap apples from Carolyn’s Orchard in Carroll County, Maryland, along with merlot and chambourcin from Old Westminster’s estate—this sparkling rosé wine and cider blend is fermented with native yeasts and does not undergo any filtration or fining before canning. The result is a textural and spunky sparkling rosé with notes of strawberries, grapefruit pith, and hibiscus upfront; as well as undercurrents of funky yeastiness and chalk. It’s a slightly-sparkling wine with soft, small bubbles—more of a spritz, The acidity is high and carries the long finish.
ART+SCIENCE, CIDER+WINE “Symbiosis” (Sheridan, Oregon) $22 Buy here.
Kim Hamblin and Dan Rinke’s operation, Art + Science, Cider and Wine has always been about both cider and wine, as the name suggests, and the Symbiosis is a synthesis of the two. It is a 50/50 blend of foraged Yamhill County apples and Johan Vineyards grüner veltliner grapes that are co-fermented and then aged for 10 months in Acacia barrels. Its searing acidity is tempered by tannic expression. It is rustic and wild in flavor, with dichotomous notes of tart lemon and lime, and lemon verbena colliding with ginger spice, fresh holy basil, and green tea.
BLUE BEE URBAN CIDERY (Richmond, VA) and EARLY MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS (Madison, VA) “Petit Manchurian” $20 Call 804 231-0280 to order (limited quantities left).
This Virginian collaboration between Blue Bee Cidery and Early Mountain Vineyards is the perfect gateway hybrid. Named for the petit manseng grapes and heritage Manchurian crab apples that are co-fermented to make this collab, it is as crisp and clean as they come. Petit Manchurian is the brainchild of EMV winemaker Ben Jordan, and Courtney Mailey, founder, and owner of Blue Bee. The apples and grapes grew together in an orchard/vineyard in Tyrol, VA, and what grows together goes together! This vinous cider is pure and fresh with concentrated flavors of honeysuckle, honeycomb, ginger spice, fresh vanilla bean, white grape, and a hint of lemon curd. The high acid vibrant Petit Manseng has a linear focus that sips down the midpalate and complements the rich sweetness of the Manchurian crab.
SHACKSBURY CIDER (Shoreham, VT) and LO-FI WINES (Los Alamos, CA) “Lo-Fi Edition Pét-Nat” $19 Buy here (when available).
Shacksbury has a few cider-wine collaborations, which are made by adding grape skins to the cider fermentations. In this case, Lo-Fi supplied them with cabernet franc skins to make this bone dry rosé pét-nat. It is tart with a limestone quality and boasts refreshing mandarin and raspberry notes. It has a plush mouthfeel while allowing bright acidity to ring through to the end.
SHACKSBURY CIDER (Shoreham, VT) and LEWIS WINES (Johnson, TX) “Texas Edition Pét-Nat” $19 Buy here (when available).
In this edition, Lewis Wines sent along some of their Texas-grown cabernet franc and petit verdot grape skins. The same process of aging the cider on grape skins to impart flavor, color, and tannin was used. Chalky on the nose, this méthode ancestrale opens up with brilliant aromas of soft rosewater and hibiscus that come alive on the palate. There are also flavors of savory herbs, fresh lemon, and Rooibos tea. Very textural in mouthfeel, it has a feeling of minerality which is met by high acid. Sprightly bubbles drive the refreshing points home.