Friday, July 22, 2011

I Came For the Wine, and Started With the Cider

I hit the ground for the #WBC11 yesterday. I came to Virginia for new wine experiences. But it should be fitting that I start with cider. For many of you who read you already know I love hard cider. Virginia has a growing cider industry and I expect to taste the offerings from several of the cider makers before I head home in a few days. To be sure that that I didn't miss out on some of the action I arranged in advance to visit one of the nearby cidermakers, Albemarle CiderWorks, before the conference officially started.

A big think goes out to Mindy & Gred of @SwirlSipSnark for the kind offer of a ride out to Albemarle and entertaining all of my questions about the local wine/cider producers and the Virginia wine industry at large. Thanks are also due Courtney (@CiderApprentice) for keeping track of the tweets and being ready to host us when we arrived.

We tasted four ciders and in the following order:

Jupiter’s Legacy – dry, dry, dry with aromas of dry hay and a clean apple finish. This was made from a blend of 20 apple varieties (of the 250 they have growing on the property!) and a bit of that complexity does come through in the mouth.

Old Virginia Winesap – This cider has some sweet fruit & flower aromas with the flavor of tart apple skin. Made from Winesap apples whose legacy goes back to Colonial times.

Royal Pippin – This cider smells like honey and has a bit more sweetness than the first two. The Pippin apples it is made from are Albemarle Pippins which are recognized as one of the world’s great dessert apples.

Ragged Mountain – This was the sweetest (but that shouldn’t be taken to mean sweet) of the bunch with complex aromas almost like the dried fruit type often associated with sherry. This is the one I enjoyed the most, but in total fairness it think it was the one that refreshed me the most on the killer hot day we had.

Albemarle CiderWorks successfully makes ciders from classic vintage & heirloom apple varieties in a way I have only found in one other place, home in New England. I look forward to second and third tastes at the conference events coming up today and tomorrow!

#WBC11 is the North American Wine Bloggers Conference which is being held in Charlottesville, Virginia this year. For the next several days I get to network and taste wines with 400 other rabid wine lovers. Based on last night’s parties I have no idea how I am going to feel come Sunday, but I’ll try to keep up! A generous scholarship supported by the sponsors below has made my trip to the WBC possible, and I am grateful for the generosity and passion behind those donations that got me here.

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