Sunday 26 February 2012

Marks and Spencers Breton Cider

One feels that one needs to be a little technical with this cider. After all, M&S don't make cider themselves, so the provenance of this cider is a good question. Not that it makes a difference to the score, the cider gets judged from the glass and not from any odd fact I may have handy to pad out reviews and make them more informative. After all, just reviewing cider without some context is not appreciating the whole story of the drink. Cider is like that. Its not (generally) found in a factory off the M4. Its not (generally) made at any old time to suit demand. Its a created and (generally) living thing. In a real sense (cider-bore alert!) each cider has a unique journey to tell from orchard to glass involving (generally) people that are passionate about their 'thing' - be it apple trees, pressing and fermentation, delivery and service. Its a great industry full of (generally) very nice and enthusiastic people.

OK, back on track:-) This cider is made from (quote from the label) 5 different varieties of Breton Apples from Guiller Freres in Britanny. OK. My geography is quite frankly rubbish. I got sent out of class several times for making farm animal noises during the lesson, so it's safe to assume I didn't pay attention. Mind you, we didn't have Google maps then eh. So, Guillet Freres is a place in Brittany, rather than the producer of the cider. Sadly, I cannot find out who made it. Never mind. It wasn't Marks though:-)

Lets get on and try it eh. Well, it certainly has the typical foamy carbonation to it; just right for a French style of cider. And it has a toffee apple smell to it as well. Appetising if not a little sweet smelling (pardon the pun). Its at this point that I looked at the bottle to find it weighs in at 2% vol. That makes this what is known as a 'douce'.The fermentation is made to be very weak and stops at a low alcoholic volume. Its a very sweet style of cider and requires a bit of a sweet taste.

And it is indeed incredibly juicy and sweet. So at least it fits the expectation... albeit it would have been nice to have known that it was a douce. The taste is gentle apple juice with no real tannin but a bit of acid floating around. Its a very posh appletise with a touch of alcohol to make it an adults drink:-)

Saying all that, I am actually enjoying it more than I expected to. So many of the UK ciders are awash with apple juice these days that the taste is not unfamiliar. It is far too sweet as a cider for me, but as a jucie based drink it passes very nicely. As an aside, I used to think that using apple juice to sweeten cider must be the most natural and unintrusive method of sweetening a cider. Of course, adding juice means pasteurising the cider to stop it from fermenting back down to dry again (cider does that!). However, I am now convinced that although it may be less 'artificial' than a sweetener, it certainly is intrusive to the overall taste!

So, its juicy and a little alcoholic. Its got a juicy aftertaste too, which does linger but tastes of apple juice. OK, its not going to be for the hardened drinker, but for its style (which is not obvious from the label) its not bad. The score of 66 is reflective for the style of cider it is.


  1. I agree with your final paragraph. I'm not a hardened drinker, and do like cider as a clean, fresh drink - especially as an accompaniment to a meal. It is a very enjoyable drink.
    However, I would give an additional point to each of:Aroma, Taste, Aftertaste, and Fruit.
    My favourite cider, previously, was Weston's Medium Dry; but it's not widely available now that Oddbins has shrunk.
    Not much difference between their vol.percentages....aye, right!

    1. Douce ciders in France are an acquired taste, often far too sweet. This one is not that bad (but then I would baulk at reviewing most douce's!!). I find Westons Organic... no, what is it called now... Wylde Wood, is a pretty good cider and very available.

      Cheers for your thoughts though!!