In Michigan apples and cider are just as serious business as they are in the Northeast or the Northwest. The Michigan cider scene also seems to be vibrant, well organized and also showing signs of growth. Locally they organize the Michigan Cider Guild which looks to be made up of juice makers and hard cider producers. Annually the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Association puts on the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition which will be held next in early April 2011. Thus far the "GLINT CAP" is the only exclusively International cider and perry competition in North America. This contest has become an important yearly event on the North American cider calendar and is likely considered the most prestigious contest amongst fellow cidermakers here.
If you know Michigan cider, then you probably know about Mike Beck and Uncle John's Fruit House Winery. Mike is easily one of the best cider folks I've become acquainted with. From the get-go it was obvious he was very passionate about cider. He was also one of the first to reach out to me with conversation, kind words, support, and even cider. I finally had the pleasure to meet Mike in person at CiderDays in Western Massachussets. I tell you something about Mike... This guy seems to be everywhere, doing everything he can to promote cider as a whole, not just his own products. I'd be shocked if he wasn't considered one of the major forces within and behind the Michigan cider community these days.
In Michigan Uncle John's is one of the best places to go to for craft cider. Each year Mike presents a solid lineup of ciders to choose from. Regular offerings include Apple, Pear, Apple Cherry and other Seasonal cider varieties. If that weren't enough Uncle John's also have an array of wines from grapes, fruit, and yes even honey wines. I also should mention Uncle John's "dabbles" in some delectable custom distillates like Apple Vodka and Apple Brandy. If you'd like to take a peek I have a good number of the Uncle John's bottles, including the distillates, photographed and posted in my Cider Gallery.
A couple months back we tasted and discussed Uncle John's Seasonal 2008 that sent by Mike to me this early last year. Heather and I took some solid tasting notes and this is what we thought...
Uncle John's Fruit House Winery - Seasonal Cider 2008
Uncle John's 2008 Seasonal Cider is a beautiful bright, vivid, pale straw color. We found the appearance of this cider to clear, near brilliant, and it seemed to almost be glistening . It had a steady stream of good effervescence, slightly stronger than fizzy and closer to sparkling.
The cider's aroma was light, delicate and subtle with fresh floral characteristics and of a good and pleasant quality. Very clean, dry and herbaceous, with glimmers of fresh herb and spices, ripe pears, thyme, lemongrass, lemon and other zesty citrus.
The 2008 Seasonal is a somewhat dry cider with only a kiss of sweetness, a refreshing acidic bite complimented by a very light touch of briny saltiness. We found this to be a buttery cider, laced with flavors of citrus, lemon, and pear. In fact it also had an interesting slight "pickle-like" quality that I've come to associate with perry.
There was an good amount of tannic astringency and bitterness to enjoy. Cider body was balanced and near perfect for my taste. A tad past medium bodied with some respectable heft and substance to it, yet not too heavy, with good length and a pleasant finish... Right where one would hope to find a high quality craft cider.
Overall we really enjoyed this cider. It only got better once we were both able to put the pencils down and just kick back with it. A delicious balanced cider on the drier side with lots of character. It possessed a fantastic mouth watering acidity followed conversely by a near mouth drying tannin astringency inevitably leaving us wanting more.
Uncle John's Fruit House Winery Seasonal Cider 2008 has everything I like in a good craft cider. Character, tannin, acid. If you enjoy a solid dry cider this one is for you.