There is no question that among foodies, that Aaron Burr Ciders have been the darling of the farm-to-table world. The "unicorn cider," as New York Cork Report Editor-in-Chief Lenn Thompson referred to it, for its hard to find nature, has made it even more desirable. We both had the opportunity, along with about a dozen or so writers, to sample the line at a recent Grand Tasting in the Hudson Valley.
The ciders can be had at such tony spots as the famous restaurant 11 Madison, Murray's Cheeses, Astor Wines and Spirits, Eataly, Gramercy Tavern, and many other spots in New York City as well as on the wine list at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park.
And they have enjoyed such media hits as Edible Manhattan, Grub Street, Valley Table, Brooklyn Magazine, Town & Country magazine, and many others.
The reason that these are so collectible right off the bat, is that the are much more like sophisticated sparkling wines, that happen to be made from apples. They have immense complexity. Lovely balance, and tend to be more on the dry side. I think the other thing that make Aaron Burr so appealing is that you immediately think of fine food when you drink one. With a group of wine writers, we all mentioned things like fresh clams or oysters, roast pork, aged cheddar cheese, even pheasant stew with dumplings or chicken pot pie. That's why foodies like Aaron Burr.
Aaron Burr Cidery, located in Wurtsboro, New York, is a small homestead farm dating back to the early 19th century. They specialize in growing cider-apples, which are different from eating-apples in the same way wine-grapes are different from table-grapes. We use our apples and other locally grown and foraged apples for one mission: to re-create “true cider”, the time-averaged most popular drink in America. This focus is founded on the belief that early Americans drank history’s best cider. Reestablishing this involves holism -from farming to art, from the market to politics- cider is an identity.
Andy Brennan and his wife Polly own Aaron Burr, and have made quite a name for themselves in a very short period of time. Polly came to the tasting ready to pour.
The Appinette is a combination of grape juice and apple cider. It's made from 30% Finger Lake Traminette grape, and 70% Orange County (NY) apples (70% of those are Idared, russets and Spy. This is a dry cider with floral aroma, that one assumes come from the Traminette. It's lightly colored amber color, like a nice, aged champagne, with medium carbonation, and a hint of cloudiness. A hint of grapefruit at the end.
2013 Homestead Perry is made from true perry pears from unsprayed wild trees along the upper Neversink River. This has the slightest hint of sweetness, with a lovely light honey color. There is a bit of haziness a you pour down There is sediment in this wine. Only slightly effervescent. There's a nice floral nose, with hints of barnyard. Lovely, with some tannin. Almost buttery like a chardonnay? Elegant.
2013 Homestead Cider: Shawangunk Ridge is made from foraged, unsprayed wild apples from various Bloomingburg/ Otisville area homesteads. This cider tasted basically dry to me. This is a sparkling cider, a nice shade of honey/amber, with some haziness. According to the notes, "Tart apple intro, notes of birch wood and melon, becomes more minerally. Finishes black cherry." I would say that I got the trat apple and strangely, the birchwood, though I laugh, because I'm not sure how I got that r how to describe it. Suffice to say, one of my favorites of the tasting, flat out.
Yes, they are the "unicorn" of ciders. Well known but elusive, hard to find. That's because, any time they are available, they get scarfed up pretty quickly. Once you have one, you'll understand why.