My cider partner and good friend Ben came to stay over with us last Saturday with his wife, and brought a bottle of Shacksbury still, dry, wild yeast fermented Basque cider for us to sample, reviewed here:
I really only like fully dry cider, so I enjoyed this stuff much better than some sweetened and spiced offerings I’ve recently had from Bantam (which is just down the street from my house in Somerville). It had a great, bright apple flavor, and was quite tart. Very yeasty and slightly funky; I’m usually not a great fan of the funk in cider but in this case it was at a low enough level that it added to the overall experience for me. I drink my own cider cold and pretty full of bubbles, but I could appreciate this cider at room temp and fairly still. I could not taste any amount of tannin, which I think of as one of the crucial pillars of cider flavor. But it did hold together for me even without a defined tannin element. Anyway, if you haven’t tried a cider in this class it is a worthwhile taste to seek out.
With four of us, the 750ml bottle didn’t last long, so we followed up with a glass of our own 2014 homebrew vintage. 2014 was excellent for us, and comparing side to side with something considered good enough to send across the ocean made me feel this more strongly. I often feel like I wish we could get our cider a little more tart, and drinking the Basque cider gave me an example of something with far greater endowment in this element. Probably the best way for us to get more tart is to prefer bittersharps over bittersweets, and put in more wild apples when we can get them.
I also ordered a few bottles of the unadulterated dry selections from Eve’s, taking advantage of a free shipping coupon I got from Cummins nursery, who apparently is in the same area and supplied the cider apple trees for Eve’s a number of years ago. Looking forward to tasting them! They do methode champenoise, which as a hobby scale brewer seems to me like a tremendous pain in the ass, but it must have some compelling benefits to justify the trouble…