Rosengarten Report/Splendid Table

How we love the fearless gentleman who puts out“The Rosengarten Report” a specialized food and wine newsletter for gastronomic explorers, published in New York city. Though we’ve never met him, Mr. Rosengarten took an interest in cider after visiting the cider regions of Spain, and looked for comparable delights here in the States. His first review of our ciders is below. Soon after, he was interviewed for the Splendid Table program on NPR, which ran on a fall weekend in 2003. Customers jumped from their cars at our seasonal farm stand and ran to report that “A guy on the radio just said that the best ciders in America are made by Farnum Hill Ciders in Lebanon, New Hampshire!” Slowly we decided this could not be a joke. That was a good day.

Then a couple of years later. Mr. Rosengarten went back through all his picks, looking for greatest hits, and yup, picked our ciders for the varsity. On bad days up here, we think about setting his prose to music for a company cheer-up song. Here’s the May 2005 update, followed by the first review.

“I have been enjoying these great sparkling ciders ever since, whenever I can find them in restaurants, often ordering them instead of Champagne at the start of a meal. They are as great as ever!

Related Products … From This Company: On this tasting go-round, I tried … a line of still ciders, dry as well, that are great alternatives to dry white wine. The driest is the bone-dry Extra Dry Still… like a super-crisp Riesling that features apples and hay instead of peaches and grapes. I love it, but it may be too lean for some. I love even more the Kingston Black Cider Reserve, made from a single apple variety that is much prized in Europe. It’s richer, a touch less dry (though still very dry), more acidic, and with sexier aromas and flavors (I call it ‘saliva on skin,’ the back label calls it ‘muskmelon, orange peel and flowers.’) The Semi-Dry Still… has a slight hint of sugar, but much less than most California Chardonnays. It also has the lowest alcohol of the bunch (7.4%) though, oddly, seems a little blunter than the other two.”

Oh, my. And below find Mr. Rosengarten’s original text, headed “The Dry Ciders:”

“Farnum Hill Extra Dry Cider/Farnum Hill Semi-Dry Cider

This cidermaker in Lebanon, New Hampshire, was the huge discovery of my tasting. I’m in love! Farnum Hill grows its own apples, all of which have been specially selected for cider-making. (obscure varieties like Somerset Redstreak, Kingston Black, and Medaille d’Or.) They mature the cider in oak, and bottle it with champagne corks. I tasted two kinds, and flipped over both of them — clearly the best products in the whole tasting. I marginally preferred the Extra Dry (7.5% alcohol), with its classic Normandy-like nose: fermented apples, touch of greengage plum, earth, spice. The big excitement is that it’s bone-dry, very fresh, and tingling with acidity. Though it has a little more body and character, it was the closest thing to sidra that I tasted. It’s a miracle with food, though it may be a little severe for some tasters. If that’s the case for you, you may prefer the Semi-Dry (7.4% alcohol), which was still one of the driest ciders in my tasting! This one has a hint of celery seed and chalk, and the teeny-weeniest hint of sweetness. Brilliant with roast chicken.”

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