As seen in Localvore Today 5/20/2016 https://read.localvoretoday.com/have-cider-will-travel-visiting-eden-specialty-ciders/ http://www.localvoretoday.com/
The state of Vermont has become synonymous with maple syrup, artisanal cheese, and craft beer. Vermont producers consistently take home the gold in all these categories at national and even international competitions.
But syrup, cheese, and beer aren’t the only things bringing home the gold to little ol’ Vermont. Craft cider is on the rise and Vermont is home to some of the best cider makers and highest quality orchards in the country. Recently, I took a trip out to visit Eden Specialty Ciders (Newport, VT). Among many other accolades, Eden Specialty Ciders was just named 2016 Best Cidery in the World by RateBeer.com. I looked them up, and they were just shy of two hours from my home base in the Burlington, VT area.
The drive from Burlington weaves through the gloriously un-marred Northeast Kingdom. If you’ve never afforded yourself a drive through the “NEK,” as locals call it, it’s more than worth it almost any time of year. (Highway options are also available, if a scenic drive isn’t your thing.) I had never set foot into Newport before this day, and I’m so glad that I went. It’s such a charming little town, situated right on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, with plenty of lovely little shops and cafés.
Eden Specialty Ciders is located right on Main Street in an old department store building, now dubbed the “Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center.”
The actual cidery is downstairs in the spacious basement, while the main floor is a mixed-use cooperative. Eden has a tasting room there featuring samples of their ice and sparkling ciders, plus some bonus Vermont-distilled apple brandies like Mad River Distillers (Waitsfield, VT) “Malvados” (a play on the French “Calvados”) and Vermont Spirits (Quechee, VT) “No. 14 Apple Brandy.”
You can also pick up some Vermont cheeses, maple syrup products, and even grab lunch or dinner at the Newport Ciderhouse Bar & Grill, all without leaving the building.
The Ciderhouse offers up local, farm-to-table gastro pub fare, like burgers prepared from Beefalo raised up the road at Spring Hill Farms (Orleans, VT) and the mac and cheese which is packed with Vermont cheese trimmings from the cheese shop. It doesn’t get much better than this!
While we sat down to lunch we tasted through Eden’s ciders with great delight. Eden really excels in the Ice Cider category and has garnered national attention, landing on such well-respected menus as Gramercy Tavern and Wassail in New York City. My favorite ice cider from this trip was the brandy barrel-aged version of their Heirloom cider. After spending an extra year in Laird’s Apple Brandy barrels, the resulting ice cider is lush and full bodied, packed with flavors of caramel, toffee and Oloroso sherry.
But the real reason for the trip was to taste the new releases of their Sparkling Ciders. Eden makes two sparkling ciders annually: Dry & Semi-Dry. Instead of basing them both on the same blend with just different residual sugar levels, Eden uses different orchards to make these two ciders, showcasing the different terroir of the orchards. “We are fortunate to work with amazing heirloom and cider variety apples from great growers like Zeke Goodband at Scott Farm and Steve Wood at Poverty Lane Orchards,” said Eleanor Léger, Founder and Co-Owner of Eden. ” These apples are rare and expensive, and bring complexity, tannin, and depth of flavor to our sparkling hard ciders.”
Both are a blend between ciders that have been aged for one year in large oak barrels and freshly pressed cider. Kingston Black apples from Scott Farm (Dummerston, VT) go into the blend for Dry and a blend of mixed bittersweet apples from Poverty Lane Orchards (Lebanon, NH) goes into Semi-Dry. They are bottled while the fresh cider is still fermenting and secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle, just like with Champagne. Also like Champagne, the bottles are hand disgorged, a process which expels the yeast from the bottle and leaves the cider clear and full of tiny little bubbles. I’ve found that these ciders are really the closest thing to Champagne you’re gonna find that’s made in Vermont.
Coming soon, Eden will release Imperial 11˚ Rosé, a Rosé-style cider which gains its color from red currants. The cider making team crafted this cider to taste much like a Provençal dry Rosé wine and then infused it with bubbles – double the refreshment!