Black Diamond exemplifies 30 years of exploring FLX Terroir for Apples and Cider
Join us for a series of unique ciders on Saturday, July 14th, 2 - 5 PM
Sneak Peek below written by Ian Merwin, owner of Black Diamond Farm and Cider
July 5, 2018
This has been a year of transition at Black Diamond Farm & Cider. In April we planted 440 more apple trees in our new cider orchard, bringing total tree numbers on the farm to about 4400, and our apple varieties list to about 170. These new plantings are mostly traditional cider varieties, including some from Asturias (Northern Spain), more favorites from Normandy France, and a few from the American South (Hewes Crab, Black Twig, Razor Russet). These new trees will enable us to continue making ciders with only home-grown fruit—while providing a rich array of tastes and textures to express and explore the authentic terroir of our farm, climate and cider-making practices.
In addition to the eight Black Diamond Ciders we have made in past years, in 2018 we had enough of several longtime favorite cider varieties to create four new “varietal” ciders. The July 14th event at FLCH will be the first public offering of these new ciders! Just as Pinot Noir excels in France’s Burgundy Region, and Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in the Napa Valley, we believe that certain cider apples can achieve fullest expression in our Finger Lakes region. We have a long, cool growing season, deep glacial soils with base mineral reserves and fertility, and rapidly developing expertise among local cider makers who share their nascent knowledge and experience growing apple varieties specifically for fine ciders. The four new barrel reserve varietal ciders from Black Diamond Farm represent our foray into the realm of intensely varietal and uniquely local ciders. They were made from apples picked at peak flavor within the 64 acres surrounding our cidery, fermented in small batches that started on native wild yeasts, and then finished with a few cultured yeast strains. Thanks to a cool wet growing season in 2017, the fruit at hand this year had ample acidity and tannic structure. Because each of these ciders consists of just one or two varieties, they are a bit quirky and individualistic. Yet we think they also represent the Finger Lakes cider terroir that is gaining recognition nationally—fruit-forward ciders with complex acidity, minerality, and tannic structure that hold true to the land and orchards where they were grown, fermented, aged and bottled. We look forward to tasting these new varietal ciders with everyone at the Finger Lakes Cider House this month!
Tasting Notes for New Varietal Ciders in 2018
Ashmead’s Kernel/Reinette Musquee
This is a blend of two classical cider apples, one from England and the other from France. Chris Negronida conjured up this varietal blend a few years ago, and we all loved it! Delicate tannins and bright acidity under notes of apricot, nutmeg and cloves, made in the traditional methode champenoise.
ABV = 7.9%, Total acidity = 7.8 g/L, Residual sugars = 0.0%, Total tannins = 504 ppm.
Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection
A happy marriage of two cherished cider apples—one from New York around 1850, and the other from England in the 1890s. Golden Russet lends its crisp acidity and ginger bite, while Porter’s Perfection provides tannic structure and depth of finish, underlying fruit notes of mango and citrus.
ABV = 8.0%, Total acidity=6.9 g/L, Residual Sugar=0.0%, Total tannins = 817 ppm.
Geneva Tremlett’s Bitter
The true identity of this cider apple is unknown! It was imported from England for the Geneva NY-USDA apple collection in the 1960s, thought to be the English cider apple Tremlett’s Bitter. Whatever its true name is, Geneva Tremletts has established itself as one of the few bittersharp cider apples that can stand on its own in the bottle. It has ample acidity, robust tannins, and notes of key lime and cinnamon spice. We bottle conditioned this cider to mellow its acidity, letting it age for six months on the lees. Some sediment is expected when serving.
ABV=7.7%, Total Acidity=7.9 g/L, Residual sugars=0.0%, Total tannins = 907 ppm.
Harry Master’s Jersey
The dominant variety in this cider was sometimes called the “Port Wine” apple in Southwest England, and is a characteristic Somerset Jersey type of bittersweet apple with soft tannins and complex textures. We added a bit of Pink Pearl and Cox Orange Pippin to the blend, for the sake of diversity.
ABV = 7.7%, Total Acidity = 7.9%, Residual Sugar = 0.5%, Total tannins = 880 ppm.