One of the nifty things about Mancos’ Fenceline Cider is they always seem to be churning out (er ... pressing out?) new things.
Over the course of this summer, we kept noticing the photos of refreshing-looking fermented fruit beverages they would toss onto the internet, and eventually, our resistance wore down. So we headed over to their tasting room, or at least the patio – COVID-19 and all – to see what was what.
Among the things the cidery was slinging that intrigued us were its Frozé Slushies. You see, at some point in the last few months, Fenceline found itself a slushy machine and has been experimenting with it ever since. They’ve been churning out (in quite the literal sense) two drinks at any given time: a boozy adult drink and an alcohol-free one.
As we saw them loading it up with wine and cider, both of which can be pretty dry, we wondered how a slushie – even a boozy one – would taste if it wasn’t sweet. Suffice to say we were pretty skeptical that it’d be, well ... drinkable. We imagined wine not just with an ice cube in it, but thousands of tiny ice cubes.
Fortunately, they thought of this too and have been keeping all of their enslushied alcohols on the sugary side. The day we visited, the alcoholic icy option was their Riesling wine combined with blueberry and pomegranate concentrate. It tasted ... pretty good. We’re not sure the concept of frozen blended wine has entirely won us over yet, but we recognize why it might. For instance, just swishing it around in our mouth, we felt like we could taste each aspect of it, from the sour acidity to the fruitiness. We also like that the slushie didn’t do what half of our frozen drinks do, where the liquid drains from the ice as you drink it, quickly leaving behind a huge unflavored iceberg in an otherwise empty cup.
On the other hand, though, the Frozé still maintained all the dangers frozen drinks carry. At one point ... OK, at two points ... the taste of wine distracted us from what we were doing and we took rather large sips of the beverage. We managed not to moan, but for a good five minutes of the time we were at the tasting room, if anyone had thought to look at us, they would have seen us leaning on the bar, arms clasping our head in the throes of brain freeze.
As we finished the slushie, the sun was starting to set and we were pretty much done with that experiment, so we moved on to one of Fenceline’s newest ciders, the Spur Bearer. As we understand it, this cider is made from red-fleshed apples closely related to those found in Kazakhstan, which is basically where apple trees, as a species, originated. So they’re like the primal form of apples. Maybe. Don’t look at us, we’re not apple historians.
The cider itself was tart and sharp – more tang than tannin. It also had a faint tropical melon flavor, like a cantaloupe or a honeydew. It was refreshing and almost, but not quite, quaffable. The flavor was complex enough that it seemed better suited to sipping and savoring than slurping down.
To round out our visit, we then moved on to Fenceline’s Elderberry Cider. We’ll be honest, we’re not exactly elderberry connoisseurs. If you sent us out into the forest to find some, we’d probably pick the wrong thing, sample it, and die. But whatever effect it had on the cider seemed like a positive one.
The drink was sweet, tart, a little bitter, and dark. In flavor, it felt 65% like a cider and 35% like a wine. But not syrupy like a port — just a kinda-sweet wine-tinged cider. We enjoyed it.