Saturday, February 09, 2013

West County Cider Redfield in the Berkshires (MA)


West County Cider is a high quality hard cider producer, and has been so for decades. They are one of the standard bearers of the genre. The Maloney family –Terry, Judith, and Field— began making hard cider commercially in l984. Before that, they’d been making cider for themselves and their friends for years before that. They grow most of the produce that appears on their table. It makes sense to us to ferment cider from the apples of the Berkshires. They moved to the Northern Berkshires from Northern California in l972. Colrain, Massachusetts was Apple Country.

The Maloney’s admired the hard cider their neighbors had been making for generations, and started doing the same, but applied California winemaking techniques to this seasonal Yankee tradition. They were impressed by the variety and complexity of ciders that could be made from differing blends of apples and cellaring techniques. They fermented their first vintage for sale in’84, when they became the first U.S. winery to specialize in hard cider. Their ciders have been reviewed in Martha Stewart Living, Saveur magazine, Wine Spectator, New York Times, and many other publications.
West County Cider Redfield was the cider I had. According to their website, the Maloney’s discovered the Redfield on a leisurely walk through the reference orchard at the New York Agricultural Experimental Station at Geneva. They were sampling apples as we walked, taking a bite, and then tossing them.
“The Redfield stopped us cold. There was the taste: unusually tannic, bright fruit, and acidic. Then there was the color: deep red skin, brilliant scarlet flesh. We picked enough for a test batch, and have been planting and making Redfield ever since.”
And thank the gods for it! I opened the cider and poured it into a wine glass. It was pink and effervescent. The nose was of apples and something softer, maybe a hint of strawberry? It was beautiful, with a lovely apple taste, a nice balance of acidity, and a nice refreshing end.
Truly a memorable cider.