Imagine a weather event so severe that it literally wiped out an entire vintage of grapes in Napa Valley or Russian River Valley or the Santa Lucia Highlands. Devastating on a number of levels. Well, this is exactly what has appeared to have happened to the Southwest England Cider Apple Orchards after devastating rains there have appeared to destroyed the potential of 17,500 acres of cider apple trees. The news is of a “Cider Drought” in one of the world’s premier cider orchard growing regions.
I would not have known this had I not recently set up a GoogleAlert for “Cider” after having been tasted on the drink by a representative of a new Cider being made by a California winery. I’m one of those fools who thought “cider” came in a large jug, was brown and opaque and was sweet with no alcohol. Turns out that’s not cider. Here in the U.S., that’s what “Cider” refers to. And if you are talking about the real stuff, well we in the U.S call it “hard cider”. It’s a long story, but unlike the rest of the world, we attach the “hard” in front of “Cider” to indicate it has alcohol.
There’s a good chance I’m going to be writing quite a bit more about Cider here at Fermentation in the near future. I’ve discovered that at its best, in its craft form, it may just be the perfect drink. At 6%-8% alcohol the stuff doesn’t have nearly the potential to get you drunk, but drink the equivalent of a 750ml. and you’ll have a buzz. On the other hand, it has many similarities to beer, but it doesn’t fill you up and weigh you down like beer does…at least like beer does to me. Additionally, as I’ve learned over the past week after having tracked down probably most of the ciders sold at retail in Napa, in its craft form, hard cider can be a beautifully complex and intriguing drink. To put it mildly, GREAT STUFF.
I feel for the English Cider lovers because I think I understand what they love about this drink in the same way I understand what wine lovers appreciate about the best wines from a region. And I can’t imagine what the reported loss of 17,500 acres of premium cider orchards means to the orchardists, the cider makers and the devotees of fine English Cider.
To put it mildly, I’m hooked on Cider and plan on an extensive investigation of the drink. And I think I might even begin reviewing ciders on this blog. While wine is never reviewed here, I think I found a drink that I not only want to drink, but which I can review here in a way that might provide useful information to readers as well as not cross any ethical lines.
In the mean time, think good thoughts about the English orchardists, cider makers and cider drinkers. They have tough future ahead of them.