As picnic season get into full swing bypass the commonplace and opt for a cool, hard cider. We’re not talking mass-produced candied cider a’la Woodchuck. We’re talking natural, earthy, thought-provoking ciders from Normandy and the Basque region of Spain. Take one of our picks to your next picnic. Where your friends may bring some tasty bottles, yours will truly be the hipster of the lot.
Cyril Zangs, Sparkling Cider, Normandy, 2008
This is a light-hearted, earthy, slightly sweet cider that’s loaded with rich, honeyed apple notes. There’s a hit of nuttiness toward the end that makes for a very interesting finish. This is a good cider to pair with the many different foods that can dress the picnic table. We recommend this for a picnic or a BBQ. It’s got the muscle to hold up to hearty dishes and the hit of sweetness makes it very food friendly.
(Available at UVA Wines and Spirits in Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Isastegi Sagardo Naturala, Tolosa, Basque, Spain, 2008
This has got to be one of the coolest ciders available to the American market. Apples are pressed in stainless steel tanks and large oak casks. It undergoes all natural fermentation, as God intended, and is bottled unfiltered. This results in an extremely cloudy cider that is incredibly dry and mouth-puckering. Mild carbonation and that great Basque acidity make it pleasantly invigorating. This is a wild bottle that will get you ready for the next round of wiffle ball.
(Available at Thirst Wine Merchants in Fort Greene, Brooklyn)
Julien Frémont, “Greniers” Cidre, Brut par Nature, Normandy, 2008
Picture it: Acres upon acres of centuries old lush, green orchards in Normandy’s Calvados region. You have likely tasted the deliciousness that is Calvados brandy made from the region’s famed apples. Frémont presses his apples in the same press his ancestors built in 1765. You can almost taste the tradition. It undergoes a slow fermentation in both vat and bottle and yields a very smooth and full body with a soft mousse and mild sweetness. This is a classy cider for a more sophisticated and relaxed picnic. Sit and sip under sprawling trees.
(Available at Astor Wine and Spirits in Manhattan)