A couple of years ago, my husband Sean and I started expanding our horizons, seeking out Texas spirits and cider. We started regularly drinking Austin Eastciders cider, but they still do not have a tasting room. We wanted to have the tasting experience, so we sought out other options. We started at Argus Cidery in Dripping Springs. Their unique ciders were eye-opening, but we wanted something a bit more easy-going. We found Texas Keeper Cider.
We first visited on New Year’s Eve of last year. They welcomed us in and walked us through a flight of their small batch ciders. We fell in love and brought a nice supply home. We returned in early spring for a release, and brought that cider home as well. During the visits, the great staff told us about other offerings they have throughout the year. The one they recommended was their Grafter Rosé. I had read a few articles about it, so I wanted to try it.
This vintage of the Grafter Rosé came out over Memorial Day weekend. We made the trek up I-35 to South Austin. We went straight to the bar to get a taste. It blew me away. We got a couple of glasses, got some incredible bar-be-que, and sipped on this new treat under the trees. Of course, we came home with several bottles. Recently, we opened one up to beat back the June heat.
The Grafter Rosé is a unique beverage. Like many of Texas Keeper Cider’s offerings, this one is a small batch (only 500 cases!). Also, this small batch cider is not a true cider. The majority of the Grafter Rosé is Rome Beauty apples (90%). However, to be a rosé, it needs some grapes. This vintage included 7% Tempranillo and 3% Carignan from the Texas High Plains. They fermented the two together, resulting in a beverage with 8.1% alcohol with low residual sugar. The Grafter Rosé blends the best of both worlds with the lightness of a good dry cider and the fruit of a great rosé.
From the start, it is clear that the Grafter Rosé is something all onto its own (maybe with the exception of the Grafter Blanc made from 25% Muscat Blanc grapes). The cider is effervescent, forming a light fizzy top that settles down quickly. On the nose, the traditional strawberry notes shine through. They describe it as Summer-in-a-Bottle, and the nose delivers. The strawberries are rich and ripe, but there is a subtle green herbal note as well as a hint of floral.
In those first few sips, the strawberry steals the show. The first thing that comes through is a slightly under-ripe strawberry, allowing the fruit to show but not overpower the rest. It is a cider; towards the middle and the end, the apple notes take over. The tart, tangy apple leads to a dry, clean cider finish. The Grafter Rosé is an exciting blend of the traditional strawberry notes of a rosé and the clean, dry finish of a cider.
The Grafter Rosé is extremely approachable. The effervescence keeps the cider smooth and light. The harmony of the grape and apples is pleasant. For those ready to try something new, the beverage balances the subtle fruit forward nature of rosé and the smooth, clean finish of a cider. This is definitely Summer-in-a-Bottle. The Grafter Rosé is light and refreshing, ready to take on the Texas heat.