This is the type of man Christian Barthomeuf was. A French-born, self-taught artist who, after trying his hands at making ice wine, created ice cider.
Christian first planted his grape vines in 1980 and was producing wine two years later but realized the cold climate would create a challenge if he wanted to compete in the wine market. Christian then planned on entering the ice wine business but realized he could make a similar product using a fruit that grew well in Canada: apples.
Christian Barthomeuf, now known as “The Godfather of Ice Cider”, would pave the way for many ice cider producers from Quebec, Ontario, Vermont, New York, Washington and Minnesota.
I recently spoke to another ice cider pioneer, Eleanor Leger from Eden Ice Cider Company. The multi award-winning Eden is located in West Charleston, Vermont, and produces an heirloom blend, a single-varietal, barrel-aged ice cider, and two small batch single orchard ice ciders.
In 2011 Eden also launched a line of Aperitif style ciders, an herbal and a bitter.
Producing Ice Cider or Apple Ice Wine, as it is also known, is a pretty straight forward process. Ice Cider producers typically follow one of two processes, cryoconcentration and cryoextraction. Cryoconcentration involves harvesting the fruits late in season and leaving them in fresh storage until late December. The apples are pressed and the fresh juice is left out until the water freezes and separates from the sugar. By January, the concentrated juice undergoes a cold fermentation.
With Cryoextraction, apples are left on the trees, until the end of January. They are picked when the temperature reaches about 5°F to 18°F, and then pressed and left to cold ferment for months.
I asked Eleanor what goes into making Eden’s high quality ice ciders. This is what she had to say:
“Our objective is to express the flavors of extraordinary apples. Cryoconcentration produces the freshest, most pure apple flavors. We use all natural cold weather in Northern Vermont. We also use cold weather to arrest the fermentation. So no artificial refrigeration anywhere in the process. We use no enzymes, fining agents or other oenological tools, just apples, cold
weather, yeast and organic yeast nutrient (no DAPP)”
The Ice Cider industry is growing steadily and production in the U.S. has reached about 100,000 bottles per year and the number of American producers add up to about a dozen.
What to expect from an Ice Cider
A good quality ice cider will have an intense apple flavor with concentrated sweetness, a full body and a long finish. ABV typically ranges between 9% and 15%.
Eleanor from Eden Ice Cider recommends serving the ciders chilled in a sherry or port glass. A 2-3 oz pour is ideal. Ice ciders also pair well with artisanal cheeses.
For more information on ice ciders visit Vermont Ice cider Association online.
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