Brännland Iscider Journal #5
Twin bottle releases of Brännland Iscider 2014 and Eden Specialty Ciders The Falstaff 2014.

By 2010 I’d had time to realize that Swedish apples would not do dry wines well because of their high acidity but that, inversely, would likely do a sweet wine well on account of the same acidity.  

I went searching for a cider, an apple wine, that could retain a natural sweetness to balance the tart ness of the apples without resorting to various chemical or temperature based industrial stabilizing methods.

I found ice cider. Come upon by Quebec ice wine maker Christian Barthomeuf at the end of the 1980s ice cider was the perfect answer to many of my questions as a fledgling producer. I wanted to produce something that played with my specific set of circumstances when it came to fruit, climate and yet was sophisticated and possible to develop, both in production as well as in bottle.
But how to make ice cider with no previous knowledge of even bathtub winemaking and no network of wine makers in my region, let alone in my country of even part of Europe?

Well, I first tried a hand at it myself. The results were not completely stable or predictable (the bottles exploded in the fridge) but flavor-wise a huge improvement from my very failed attempts at making dry cider.

I quickly realized that I needed a mentor, someone who could help me sidestep the worst mistakes. After trawling the internet I found a paper authored by an American ice cider producer in Vermont and eventually opted to try and get in touch with her directly. That ice cider producer was Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders. She patiently helped me understand the process from pressed apple to finished wine via e-mail and phone, ever ready to discuss, trouble shoot and just shoot the breeze.

Since then I have had the privilege to have Eleanor as a mentor and friend. Brännland Iscider has grown as has Eden. Eden celebrates its 15th anniversary the same year in which we celebrate our 10th.

When thinking about how to commemorate our first ten years as wine producers I thought about what ice cider was the first to really blow me away as to the potential of what sweet wine apples could produce.
Although I tasted my Canadian forebears early on, and although they certainly spurred and inspired me, the wines that really made me a convert were from Eleanor and Eden.
I single out two.
Edens flagship heirloom blend, steel tank fermented and aged. Fresh and lively without losing heft or power.

The Northern Spy single variety that Eleanor smoothly barrel aged and bottled in 187 ml bottles. Dark, rich but balanced with a muscular acidity.

These two wines showed off the span across which apples could range with ease. The potential, the muscles, the refinement. They were also produced with something of a European sensibility in that Eleanor had decided to keep her wines at a lower alcohol level than our Canadian role models, something that we’ve taken further in our own wine making. As we now have learned and ingrained in our wines through our work with German winemakers of the Rheingau, being moderate in terms of alcohol levels gives much more room for balance and therefore for optimizing the internal tension in the wine. In this, Eleanor was well ahead of the game.

Eleanor is well and low spoken, classy but authoritative, observant and very smart. Her wines reflect those characteristics. Her ideas on quality and relentless drive to make cider into what it can be touched many more people than just me.

As a hommage both to Eleanor and the wines that inspired us to produce (ever evolving) ice cider we’ve put together a small batch of bottles from our second vintage the 2014 together with one of Eleanors most legendary ice ciders, The Falstaff, 2014 ice cider, aged for seven years in oak.

In this we’ve tried to combine the traits of the two wines I first tasted from Eleanor as well as stretch back in time to honor her gift from to us.
In all 12 twin bottle releases of Brännland Iscider 2014 and Eden Specialty Ciders The Falstaff 2014.

Andreas Sundgren on the vintage

With the 2014 many things changed at Brännland Iscider. This is the first year in which we had the assistance of Markus Lundén at Georg Breuer to improve and optimize both the cellar work and the wines.

We started ferments slightly higher in sugar than the previous year not to make a sensorically sweeter wine but to have a little more room to strike the right balance between residual sugar and acidity in the finished blend. That means the 2014 is the first vintage where we tried to drive elegance and tension. It was also a marked step up in terms of volume produced which gave us more material with which to shape the final blend.

Tasting Notes Markus Lundén

Clear golden with hues of amber.
Deep but delicate with notes of candied apples, cloves, cinnamon and allspice.
Intense round sweetness dominated by red apples and light tannins that are balanced by characteristic acidity.

Eleanor Leger on the vintage

Tasting and winemakers notes Eden Specialty Ciders  The Falstaff 2014
The Falstaff 2014
HARVEST | 2014
BOTTLED | 2022
ELEVAGE | Matured 7 years in French oak chardonnay barrels
TASTING NOTES | Long micro oxidation and high residual sweetness result in unctuous, integrated flavors of fig, golden raisin, apricot, and walnuts, balanced with lingering bright acidity on the finish.

A very special reserve of our flagship Heirloom Blend ice cider from the harvest of 2014, aged in French oak for seven years. Lusciously oxidized, decadently sweet yet with a persistent backbone of acidity that elevates this unique dessert cider to a whole new level.

In this very fast world, I think The Falstaff is a lesson to all of us about the benefits of just stepping back and letting time and nature do their work. The 2014 heirloom ice cider was the product of amazing local apples and natural cold weather – no adjustments of acid or sugar or other cellar manipulations, and then it went into barrel in 2015 and was just ignored. No testing, no interference until we opened it in the Fall of 2022 to behold what apples, cold weather, and a nice French oak barrel can do when left to their own devices.