Thursday, 23 February 2012
Orchards Wye Valley Cider
Why is it that the 'cider' pubs I have been in recently all have stacks of wood? Is it just trendy or is it trying to say something about cider? I have no idea, but felt it was worth a comment. Still at the 'Cider Tap' in London for this one; another cider from a polypin.
In actual fact, I tasted four ciders on sale from polypins before choosing this one. In order, they were the one I have just reviewed, then a sweet cider that was not really my thing, this Orchards and the other, produced by a well known Somerset cider maker, which really tasted as though there was quite a lot wrong with it - mouse and a bit of vinegar I think. I won't mention the producer as they are very respected and it would be unfair. However, even though it seems that London is just relearning the pleasure of quality cider, I would never knowingly sell cider to anyone if it had these problems... both of which would probably have been there at point of sale (unless the sale was a long time ago).
Anyway, this is a review of Orchards Wye Valley Cider. I am familiar with Orchards as a producer. I believe they are more well known for their perries, being one of the few who have spear headed the growth in full juice perry. Based in Chepstow, they have a couple of orchards in the Wye Valley and have won a number of awards for their cider... so I am looking forward to tasting this.
Well, its very cloudy, very golden and very still! Mind you, it only has a faint nose which is cider fruit and something else I can't quite place. Still, its unfiltered and natural, and quite often these ciders have a faint smell - no bubbles to push it up your nose eh!
Now, on tasting this review gets interesting - though I have to say I actually found this one a little difficult to get all the way through. There is a sharp contrast between the sharp and tannin - something that makes the cider come alive in the mouth. Its not so much that the two balance each other out, its more a full on battle between the two. Generally I like this in a cider. It gives an individual character to the drink. However, the sharp is really very tangy which is almost ascetic. Now, I don't think this is vinegar in any way, but it makes the drink really quite challenging.
There is about a second or so to taste the cider before the weirdness takes over where you can taste the fruit within the cider. Its nice up to that point. Afterwards, its all acid/tangy and the aftertaste is the same.
I do have a theory about this. Well, its a guess, but it does kind of explain the oddities about it - could this actually be a whiskey barrel cider? I know that people do this as a feature of a cider - and Orchards do sell it as a 'special'... just a guess but would explain both the oddness of the smell and some of the taste too. In any case, I am not convinced that this example is representative of Orchards cider and I would love to find another opportunity to re-review this review.
There has been occasion previously when I seriously considered pulling a review for fear of offense. Come to think of it, that was in a polypin too. However, I have to see it as I find it at the time and at least if I find it again I can compare the two. One thing I would say though is that if anyone reading this comes across the Cider Tap please let me know what you think of it.