There is lots of discussion and news about New Hampshire and their cider vs. milk official state beverage dispute. I'd certainly hate to be the one to tell those poor kindergartners that in nearly any other country in the World, "Cider" (Cidre, Sidra, Chistr, Sidre, Cyder ), is strictly a fermented drink made from apples and not the sweet kid friendly "apple juice" drink they are lobbying for.
Amidst all the confusion and hubbub I do know of one place in New Hampshire that fully understands what real cider is.
Farnum Hill. Poverty Lane Orchards. Stephen Wood. If you don't know who Steve is, where Poverty Lane Orchards is, or even what Farnum Hill is... Welcome to the reemerging world of exceptional American Craft Ciders.
If you haven't tasted Farnum Hill Cider chances are you just don't know how extraordinary a genuine American made craft cider can be. Living in the Northwest affords me relatively easy access to a number of really really excellent ciders. Having said that, Farnum Hill is really something special.
Farnum Hill Cider from Poverty Lane Orchards in located in Lebanon New Hampshire where they grow a wide variety of "Uncommon" and Cider apple varieties. Poverty Lane Orchards has been in the orcharding business in New Hampshire for quite some time. Frustrated by prices brought about by cheap import fruit these trailblazing individuals "went out on a limb" and had enough foresight to invest in heirloom apples and cider varieties. Farnum Hill have been everywhere over the past few years. Most notably in Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire, the book and the documentary, they've also been featured on NPR, Food and Wine, Gourmet Magazine, The Splendid Table, Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library TV, Growing Magazine, and lots more. Chances are if you follow the slow food movement or enjoy fine beverage and food reading you might have run across them before.
Farnum Hill Cider is a shining example in a rapidly improving craft cider movement here in North America. Steve Wood and Farnum Hill deserves a great deal of resepect and reverence for being one of the pioneer's and catalysts in our nation's rediscovery of true cider. Thanks guys! Their ciders are at the very top of the list among my very favorite American ciders. I'd like to think my admiration for this cider is held in such high regard because Farnum Hill is such a rare treat here in the NW and difficult at best. While rarity and consumption frequency might contribute a bit to it my opinion, Farnum Hill is certainly a worthy top list, top shelf cider.
On Valentines Day last month Heather and I opened bottle of Farnum Hill Semi-Dry Cider. Here are our collective observations.
Farnum Hill's Semi-Dry is a very attractive brilliant cider, almost glowing, gold to medium gold color, and has absolutely perfect clarity. A steady stream of small bubbles making their seemingly endless journey to the cider's surface.
The aroma was inviting, sweet, spiritous and spicy. Farnum Hill Ciders all have this amazing spicy character in their aromas. It is one of the characteristics I find in their cider that gives their whole line a solid cohesiveness. Very classic and cidery, we found traces of fresh strawberry, raisins, dried fruit and ripe apricots.
Forever living up to it's appearance and aroma, tasting Farnum Hill Cider never disappoints. Where to start? The Semi-Dry, as with their other offerings, is an extremely well balanced cider with a refreshing medium body, and engaging complex character. Like myself, Farnum seems to favor a bright strong acid cider that has a good deal of tannin... or phenolics as it were with apples. Their cider has near perfect carbonation, just enough to add character not enough to overwhelm. Their Semi-Dry, is dry but certainly has a subtle sweetness.
Some of the flavors we pinpointed were sweet citrus fruit, orange, Meyer lemon and tangerine. We also got strong hits of tropical fruit like pineapple and dried fruit. We found the finish to be long and clean, with a spiciness we believe was brief traces and hints of clove, pepper and even cinnamon.
Who should drink this cider? Any and every cider enthusiast should get their hands on some Farnum Hill Cider at some point in time. If you like a dry to semi-dry cider this is certainly for you. New to Craft Ciders? Farnum Hill this Semi-Dry and/or their Summer Cider might be your best introduction. Their Farmhouse sounds like it too but I haven't had that one yet. If you drink wine, like it dry are intrigued by the idea of traditional dry ciders with wine like characteristics... Go for it, make the leap, you'll love it and may just find yourself a cider convert.
Big thanks to Steve and the Farnum Hill Cider Crew... especially Corrie and Brenda for all the great communication, and friendly cider chat.
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