How Do You Like These Apple Ciders: Sampling Wölffer's Big Apple Wine & Farnum Hill's Extra-Dry Cider
Drink your apples.
It's always sad to see fruit stands at the farmers market become less and less diverse as the weather cools. Sure, New York apples are great, but they're just about the only tree fruit we're likely to see for the next six months. They'll even invade our glasses, in the form of cider or, in Wölffer Estate's case, apple wine.
Wölffer's Big Apple Wine, made at the winery's facilities in Sagaponack, Long Island, is not quite cider for a couple of reasons. First, instead of tart cider apples, it's made from all the sweetest, trendiest apple varieties of the moment, including Braeburns, Pink Ladies, Fujis, and the current darling of the orchard, Mutsus. Second, it's vinified much like wine is: pressed, fermented, and racked. It drinks like a wine - crisp and elegant, with notes of citrus and pear - and pairs well with all sort of light fare and hard cheeses.
Farnum Hill, set in the picturesque Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, New Hampshire, calls its ciders ciders. But these are made in the same way as Wölffer's, using a process similar to that of winemaking. Farnum, however, starts with rare heirloom varieties of what its website calls "weird-tasting cider apples," such as the Pomme Grise, Hudson's Golden Gem, and endearingly named Hubbardston Nonesuch. The result is a sparkling, dry cider (especially in the case of the Extra-Dry, which has no "dosage" or added sugar whatsoever), with a pleasant funk and sharp tannins, reminiscent of Spanish sidra. Like good champagne, you can drink it on its own or with some appetite-whetting snack, like oysters or potato chips, à la Marilyn Monroe.
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