As part of our cider maker series, we highlight some of the smaller or more unique US cider makers.
We always love highlighting husband and wife teams like us, and just like us, the founders of Tag + Jug Cider Co. – San Fransisco’s only cidery – have a little boy named Cameron too. :-)
Aaron Bryan and Amy Krahe started a small winery in 2012 (Conduit/Divergent Vine) and Tag + Jug Cider Co. in 2013. The name Tag + Jug pays homage to Aaron’s grandparents – Willie “Jug” and Thelma “Tag” Bryan. Tag + Jug is the product of Aaron and Amy translating their winemaking background into creating unique dry wine blended ciders.
During a virtual Zoom tasting, which was amazing, we had the chance to taste through several of the Tag + Jug Ciders as well as their Viognier and Zinfandel wines.
We started with their “Brut” – a blend of five apples from Placerville, CA. The cider, barrel fermented and barrel-aged for 3 months in neutral French oak, is bone dry and is a clean expression of the fruit. The nose of the cider is very restrained and the bright acidity would cut through a rich fatty cheese like Camembert.
The Brut serves as a base for Tag + Jug’s wine cider blends. The “Rose du Cidre” blends the Brut with Contra Costa Co. Rose of Zinfandel which is then barrel fermented and barrel-aged for 10 months in neutral French Oak. The Brut cider adds a pleasant acidity and this dry easy sipper has light floral notes and clean stone fruit and citrus flavors. Similar in flavor profile to a Cotes De Provence Rose, the cider would be a refreshing drink to enjoy on a summer patio.
The “Flora” is a blend of the Brut and Sierra Foothills Viognier. This Viognier is unique in that it undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation (i.e., what gives Chardonnay its fuller mouth-feel and creamy texture.) We had the opportunity to taste the Flora in between the Brut and Viognier. In doing so we could taste the creaminess and the lightly perfumed honeysuckle floral and stone fruit flavors that the Viognier added to the dry Brut. Barrel-fermenting and barrel-aging the cider for 5 months in neutral French Oak adds a bit of structure to this cider/wine blend.
“Deep Water” is a native co-ferment of Brut and Contra Costa Co. Zinfandel. The richness of this cider really shines through as well as the bramble, blackberry, and plum flavors. The old (75 yr.) Zin vine enhances the cider with a bit of puckering tannins and a slight chewiness. The cider, barrel-fermented and barrel-aged for 10 months in neutral French Oak, is pinot-noir like and would be a good introduction for red wine drinkers into the cider world.