In an effort not to report just from the Midwest, we thought we’d give some California love and review some cider we’ve never tried from Dutton Estates from Sonoma County. Dutton makes a wide variety of wines, but how does their hard cider stack up and is it wine-like? Let’s delve into their history and then we can talk tasting notes. Does that work for you?
Dutton Ranch farms is 200 acres of CCOF-certified organic apples in addition to 1200 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Joe and Tracy Dutton grew up farming apples alongside vineyards and founded Dutton Estate Winery after their marriage in 1995. Their combined multi-generational family history inspired this hard apple cider.
The apples are a blend of the beloved local heirloom Gravenstein variety with Golden Delicious which fashions the perfect cider: fruit-forward, like biting into fresh apples, with a touch of tartness and sweetness. The method they use in the cidermaking process is essentially the “cold”, and that is a bit of their secret. Each variety was crushed, pressed, and cold settled separately. They then take this cold-settled product and pair the two together at the juice stage. This allows the flavors to integrate as the cider ferments. The cider is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks right until the moment it is canned.
Coming from a wine region like Sonoma County our expectations for quality were high. The can is presented in a slim can with an attractive design that is reminiscent of the region and the products it makes. The ABV is slightly higher than a typical cider hitting at 7.4%. As mentioned these come in 12 oz cans but they are slim which seems a bit more elegant and on theme for the region. On the pour, the cider spills out with a large amount of carbonation that sits in ahead before dissipating into a drinkable experience.
The color is a light slightly golden flavor reminiscent of a pale ale beer. The small bubbles and higher carbonation also bring a sense of prosecco with a lighter body and a perfumey smell. Apple skin and tartness hit your nose and linger with a herbaceous sweetness that is pleasant. When it came to tasting the flavors really popped due to the carbonation. It begins with a tart apple up front that turns into a buttery chardonnay flavor likely from malolactic fermentation. Tart crisp flavors melt away like butter for the finish leaving a bit of sweetness lingering on the tongue.
Overall, this is well-rounded with notes of honey that give a feel of wine country mixed with cider life!
If you are in California or visit the winery you can get a 4 pack of 12 oz cans. If you want to get these shipped to your door nationwide you can get a pack of 12 120z cans to enjoy. Just visit their website at https://www.duttonestate.com/Our-Wines/Hard-Apple-Cider