Friday, January 8, 2016

Champlain Orchards Cidery: Heirloom Semi-Dry

It seems appropriate that the first drink I review in 2016 is from Vermont. This Spring, I'll be spending a weekend exploring the wines, ciders, beers, Sake and spirits of Vermont, gaining a better understand of the current status of their drinks industry. Previously, I've tasted numerous wines, ciders and spirits from Vermont, and you can search my blog for my prior reviews. Yet like every other state, Vermont constantly evolves, with new wineries, distilleries and breweries opening, as well as existing ones improving and expanding. There is even a new Sake brewery in Vermont, the Mercy Brewing Company.

The Champlain Orchards Cidery extends back to 1998, when Bill Suhr bought 60 acres of orchard in Shoreham., Over the years, the estate has grown to over 220 acres of fruit trees, including over 70 varieties of apples,  plums, peaches, nectarines, European and Asian Pears, raspberries, cherries, and blueberries. Sustainability is very important and 100% of their fruit crop is Eco Apple certified through Red Tomato. It is an ongoing process, where they continue to make their orchards as environmentally conscientious as possible.

With their apples, they create a variety of products including Cider Donuts, Apple Pie, Apple Sauce, Apple Butter, Cider Syrup, Sweet Cider, Ice Cider and Hard Cider. As for Hard Ciders, they produce about six different varieties, including Original Vermont Hard Cider, Semi-Dry Hard Cider, Apple Cranberry Hard Cider, Honeycrisp Hard Cider, McIntosh & Maple Hard Cider, and Ginger & Spice Hard Cider. The Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet currently sells the Semi-Dry and Apple Cranberry Hard Ciders and that is where I purchased the Semi-Dry.

The Semi-Dry ($13.70/750ml) is made from a blend of 31 apple varieties, including sweet, sharp and bitter types such as Wickson, Foxwhelp and Cox's Orange Pippin. It also has an alcohol content of 5.8%. It has an aroma of fresh apples with some mild floral notes, a pleasant smell that will entice you to pour yourself a glass. When you taste it, you'll find a mild effervescence, not the heavy carbonation of a soda. It presents mainly as crisp and dry with only a hint of sweetness, especially on the finish. There is a strong taste of apple with tart accents and almost a touch of orange. It is  refreshing rather than cloying like some commercial hard ciders, and I believe it would pair well with food too, from roast chicken to pork.

With their eco-conscious philosophy and this tasty cider, I'm hoping that on my Spring trip to Vermont, I get the opportunity to learn more about this cidery and taste more of their products (including their cider donuts).

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