A cider session with Kite & String Cider of Interlaken, New York
For Kite & String Cider it starts with the soil: A rich, resilient stew that organic farmers Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller cultivate through careful attention and the right application of grazers and growing things on the Good Life organic farm in Interlaken, New York.
Brother cidermakers Garrett and Jimmy Miller create their cider from a healthy harvest of New York-grown European bittersweets and sharps, as well as bright, acidic American heirloom fruit, grown in this living soil. It’s no coincidence that several of their ciders borrow their name from the earth itself, and the beverage in the glass evokes strong presence of place with aromas of damp earth and dark fruit.
Kite & String is a rebranding of the Good Life Cider label that won high praise from Mark Squires in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, where he describes their cider as: Pretty terrific. Clean, fresh and very dry, it has fine purity of fruit, an elegant demeanor and some controlled tension on the flavorful finish. Same cidermakers, same orchard, new name.
It was a joy to join Jimmy, Garrett and Melissa for a tasting at their organic farm and Finger Lakes Cider House in July to taste the same early release Kite & String ciders that we're sharing with our cidrbox subscribers in July. We also tasted a few rare remaining bottles of the Good Life Cider line, which included the still and dry Hickok, described by Meredith Collins of Along Came a Cider as: A total show stopper. It’s complex, dry, and fruity in the perfect combination. I adore it. (We agree.)
Good Life Hickok 2015 • 750 ML • 8% ABV • .7% RS • Complex, dry and still • Predominantly Gold Rush and Golden Russets blended with English bittersweets and American heirloom apples • Aromas of dark fruit and damp earth • With perky acidity, a fragrance of green apples, and a cast of minerality, the Hickok stands alone as a sipping cider, and is also highly versatile for pairing—
a good goes-with-nearly-anything cider to have on hand. We like it with a smooth Havarti cheese or salty Manchego, but also see it accompanying poultry, roast pork, choucroute garnie, or Piggery cranberry-sage sausage with a side of homemade sauerkraut. It’s a match with nearly anything porky, but can also balance out a serving of spicy blackbean cakes.
Kite & String Funkhouse 2016 • 750 ML • 7.8% ABV • 0% RS • Bone dry, lightly sparkling • Limited run: Only 97 cases produced • Bottle conditioned and aged sur lie • Blend of American heirloom, crab, and English bittersweet apples, including • Ben Davis/Funkhouse, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett and Pioneer Crab • Smooth, astringent mouthfeel with modest acidity • Take the Funkhouse South with fried chicken or catfish and collard greeens cooked with ham hocks, and a side of cornbread made with fresh corn kernels and minced jalapeños.
Kite & String Organic Brut 2015 • 750 ML • 8.7% ABV • Dry, organic, and bottle-conditioned • Limited run: Only 80 cases produced • Blended from 100% organic American heirloom sharps including Goldrush, Liberty, Melrose and Hemlock Grove • Traditional champagne method • Aged on secondary lees for 10 months • The Champagne of ciders, the Brut is dry and complex. Pale in the glass, it unleashes a blast of eye-lash-tickling bubbles, along with a perfume-y floral nose. And aged 11 months on the lees (that’s exhausted yeast, which gives it a pleasant bready flavor) it’s the closest thing to Champagne that an apple can produce. We urge you to rustle up some proper blini for this lovely bubbly. Fresh out of caviar? Then go for wild-mushroom ragout on toast, or fresh fig halves with gorgonzola.
Kite & String Northern Spy 2016 • 750 ML • 8% ABV • 1.9% Residual Sugar (RS) • Semi-dry single varietal • 100% American heirloom Northern Spy • Blended from four independent fermentations to maximize varietal expression and character • Lively effervescence produced through charmat method secondary fermentation • We loved the sweet/tart balance of fizzy, charmat-method Northern Spy with a shrimp-and-salmon bisque, but could pair it with a variety of creamy main courses: Mac and cheese with three or four good cheeses would do; Appetizers: Crab cakes with chutney or garlicky rustic paté on sturdy peasant bread; Even dessert: Apple pie with walnuts (substitute cardamom for cinnamon) and a slice of aged cheddar, ricotta cheesecake with raspberries, or a not-overly-sweet crème brulée.
Kite & String Rosé 2016 • 750 ML • 8.2% ABV • Naturally sparkling via Method Charmat • Bright acidity • Classic sharps — Baldwin, McIntosh, Goldrush, and Newtown Pippin — blended with Maréchal Foch red wine and unfermented Riesling juice • Strawberries and mixed berry fruit on the palate • The assertive note of honey in the Rosé plays well with the spicy complexity of Asian foods: Suggested pairings are coriander-dusted ribs, grilled shrimp with pickled lime, or a Sichuan-style whole sweet-and-sour crispy fish with a side of white rice. On the milder side, try a slow-baked side of sockeye salmon with an avocado-lemon sauce. Or set out a bowl of summer strawberries and simply enjoy this delightful rosé chilled, along with the summer sunset.
Good Life Barrel Rye 2015 • 750 ML • 8.2% ABV • 1.2% RS • Winner Good Food Award 2017 Award • Off-dry, naturally sparkling from traditional method fermentation • Featuring Golden Russets and a blend of English bittersweets including Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Tremlett’s Bitter • Aged in American oak • Oak, smoke and shalestone on the nose • Buttercream with a backbone • We suggest pairing the Barrel Rye with brunch: A creamy quiche with lots of bacon and Emmenthaler, pork rillettes on toasted crostini, or an omelet enclosing last night’s chopped vegetable leftovers.
Cidrbox.com connects people seeking orchard-driven cider with the artisans who make it. Each month we visit a single, distinctive American heritage orchard — where small producers grow their own apples and fresh press and ferment their cider like fine wine — and we ship their cider direct to our subscribers. We also sit down for a cidertasting with the maker, which we share with you here at cidersessions.com.
p.s. When we say cider, we mean hard cider: Artful fermentations of heirloom apples by master cidermakers. You must be at least 21 to drink what we deliver, and you will be asked for your ID and signature at the door.