Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cider-tasting with Wendy

Have you noticed how fashionable cider has become lately? At more than one event during Spring Fashion Week I found cider being served, and it appears at all my favourite drinking haunts now. I've been quite a fan for a number of years. I decided that beer was not for me about eight years ago, and cider became my summery beverage-beer replacement.

Whilst on a Sunday morning brunch stroll, I discovered Purvis Cellars had just opened a beer shop at 292 Bridge Road, Richmond. Given that my brunch companion is quite a fan of beer, we popped in for a look. Imagine my delight to discover they had a whole section dedicated to local and international ciders, including some I'd never seen before!

I decided that Sunday afternoon would become an impromptu cider-tasting. I rang my friend Wendy who loves a good cider as much as I do, got out some little tasting cups (if you're being serious about this, there's no point sampling a whole bottle of cider and then moving on to try the next - some of those brews are mighty strong!), chilled my new purchases, put out pen and paper for tasting notes, and off we went. Much fun was had comparing notes as we sipped at each tasting cup in turn - seems that Wendy & I agree wholeheartedly on certain types of cider.

The results of our discoveries are reported below. I've included the Purvis and/or part of the brand's own description first (which we didn't read prior to writing our own so as to give an honest, personal response), followed by our little scribbles about each one in italics. I've listed them in order of our favourites first, and our least favourite last:
1) Punt Road Wines Napoleone and Co Cider NV (Australia)
This delicious full-strength, dry cider has been hand-crafted using a variety of apples sourced from the Napoleone family orchards - established in 1948. It displays subtle apple aromas leading into a crisp, clean, elegant style with a notably refreshing finish.
Price: $4.95  Bottle size: 330 ml  Alcohol: 5.5%
Light straw colour. Delicious apple-y flavour without being overpowering. Crisp & dry. Pretty damn fabulous.

2) Aspall Draught Suffolk Cyder (UK)
Made with the fresh pressed juice of a blend of different apples to capture the best that each apple provides – Cox for sweetness, Bramley for acidity and apple aroma, and finally, a combination of bittersweet apples to give a heady perfume, body and a depth of finish. Has a mid straw colour with a floral/appley aroma especially of Russetts. It has a lovely mouth filling mousse and a delicate flavour of fresh pressed apples. Ideal as an aperitif. Slightly sweeter savoury dishes, such as pork, are beautifully complimented by this cyder.
Price: $8.99  Bottle size: 500 ml  Alcohol: 5.5%
Good apple flavour. Nice carbonation. Pale straw yellow colour. Excellent quaffing cider, you can drink quite a few and not get either overpowered or bored with the flavour.

3) Celtic Cider by Douglas (Belgium)
Celtic is an authentic Dry Cider that combines a subtle woody tone with the well-rounded flavour of the best apples. Celtic Cider by Douglas, a superb yellow gown with hints of rosé, suggestive of the great champagne vintages.
Price: $5.50  Bottle size: 500 ml Alcohol: 4.5%
Our first (and only today) cider with a pink blush. Very foamy/bubbly. 'Yeasty', seems most like champagne of the ciders we've tried today. Very drinkable. Not an overly powerful flavour. Balm to the tongue after tasting No. 5.

4) Old Mout Scrumpy (NZ)
Old Mout Scrumpy’s sweet apple aroma is touched with a hint of  honey, yet the flavour belies this aromatic delicacy, being  rich and fruity with a good length.
Price: $5.50  Bottle size: 330 ml  Alcohol: 8%
Tastes a bit like wine cooler to me. Not my favourite. Light & sweet - wouldn't drink more than a bottle. At least its not cloyingly sweet.

5) Rekorderlig Premium Apple Cider (Sweden)
Made from the purest spring water that runs under our family brewery in Vimmerby Sweden, Rekorderlig Apple Cider is a semi-sweet Cider that uses only the finest apples to produce a truly delicious Cider bursting with freshness. Freshly cut apple nose, Semi-sweet palate with strong fresh apple notes finishing with almost no acidity. Serve over ice to reduce sweetness.
Price: $6.29  Bottle size: 500 ml  Alcohol: 4.5%
Super-sweet, and comes in a big bottle. My teeth are crying. I couldn't do this one again. Perhaps a good one for cooking?

6) Crumpton Oak's Farmhouse Dry Cider (UK)
A real cider, for the real cider drinker. This fruity light cider is achieved by using the finest apples to produce a crisp and refreshing drink.
Price: $7.99  Can size: 500 ml  Alcohol: 5% 
This was a semi-sweet cider, the only canned version we tried in this sampling. We had originally placed it at about middle of the road. However it lost all the points we'd given it when we discovered it is sweetened with phenylalanine. Won't be drinking it again.

And so ends our cider sampling for this time. Do you drink cider? Do you have a favourite, or do you like to sample different types of cider? As you can see, Wendy and I both prefer a crisp & dry version of cider, whereas perhaps you like it sweet!

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