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Sweet. Tart. Sparkling. Still. Styles of hard ciders vary as much as the knobby bittersweet apples from which they’re made, and it’s this versatility that makes them so appealing. Produced in apple-rich regions around the globe—from Spain’s Basque region to the French countryside and from the Pacific Northwest to New England—we’ve assembled a bushel of hard ciders that offer a global perspective on this universally delicious drink.
Eric Bordelet Cidre Doux
Charchigne, France, 4% ABV
Heralded as one of the top producers of French cider, Eric Bordelet crafts this off-dry cider from biodynamically farmed heirloom apple trees, some of which are more than two centuries old. The result is pure, baked-apple flavor with food-friendly acidity and a kiss of honey. Try it in the Waltzing with Vincent Price cocktail.
Eve’s Autumn Gold
Van Etten, New York 10% ABV
Yeasty apple skin aromas open into a tart, fruity acidity and playful effervescence. There’s a pleasing bitter quality that comes in mid-palate, while the sweeter finish sings of dried apples and raisins.
Farnum Hill Dooryard
Lebanon, New Hampshire, 7.5% ABV
An experimental line of ciders from Farnum Hill, Dooryard comes from a blend of the barrels that don’t necessarily fit under any of Farnum Hill’s established labels. Usually a tad more tannic than Farnum Hill’s other ciders, but still with the delectable funk we’ve come to expect from this grower/producer, the batch we tasted offered notes of hay, lemon, pear, earth and olive oil … Definitely a lot going on.
Isastegi Sagardo Naturala Tolosa
Tolosa, Spain, 6% ABV
We’ve long been fans of this lip-smackingly dry cider from Spain’s Basque region, and its tangy apple-lime flavors, sour beer-like acidity and refreshingly fizzy finish prove irresistible yet again. Try it with traditional Spanish tapas or just about anything fried and salty.
Samuel Smith Organic Cider
United Kingdom, 5% ABV
As classic an English cider as they come, this certified-organic offering is straight-forward and easy-drinking and tastes as fresh as an apple plucked right from the tree.
Sea Cider Rumrunner
Victoria, British Columbia, 12% ABV
A mix of estate-grown heritage apples, the Rumrunner cider is slowly ferment with Champagne yeasts, mixed with a splash of rum and then aged in bourbon barrels resulting in off-dry notes of brown sugar and spice.
Wenatchee, Washington, 7.2% ABV
Each Snowdrift cider we’ve tasted is approachable yet sophisticated, and the semi-dry version is no exception. High-acid apples mixed with honey and molasses during fermentation create this easy-going cider, complete with apple pie-like characteristics of baked apple, butter and cinnamon.
Wandering Aengus Wickson
Salem, Oregon, 8.2% ABV
Made solely from the Wickson Crab apple, this cider asserts itself from the get-go with super tart lemony flavors, a spike of yeasty spice mid-palate and a touch of saltiness on the finish.
For more hard ciders we love, check out “Apple of Our Eye” in the September/October 2011 issue. And read “Juiced Up” from the September/October 2010 issue for a taste of craft cider cocktails.