Friday 11 May 2012

Sainsbury's English Vintage 2010 Cider

OK, well I have a couple of reviews here that are either going to be dead simple but a little revealing or else going to be complex and hard to explain. Captured your attention? It's actually not that exciting - I have two bottles of cider that look identical to each other; this Sainsbury's and Weston's own English Vintage Cider. And I have provided a photo to prove how similar they look (well, they even have the same bleedin' name don't they!!)

So what? Well, aside the fact that one is 7.2% and the other is 7.3%, I get to try them together to see if in fact they are one and the same thing. OK, its not the first time Weston's have done this - see the review for 1st Quality and Marcle Hill (and possibly the Governor). And its not as if I found both these ciders on sale next to each other - the Westons was in a garden centre in Somerset, the Sainsbury's version I will let you guess at:-)

Is this OK though? Is it OK for companies to peddle stuff at us under two (or even three) different names but the stuff being identical? I guess it is, although it really is just more marketing crap really isn't it? No, there isn't anything to say 'this cider has been specially made for Sainsbury's'; although it does say 'produced and bottled for...', but that is just being picky. And why there is 0.1% alcohol difference I have no idea... But then, if this cider is not like the other then that would actually make this whole paragraph a waste of space eh!

So lets try the Sainsbury's one first and see.

It pours out fairly fizzy and golden in colour. Bright and clear as a bright and clear thing that has won the bright and clear competition. The smell is moderate - fruity and cider with a little tannin and sulphite coming through. It does seem a touch juicy... common for Weston's although it is described as medium dry, do hopefully not too much.

And the taste is good. Moderate. Safe. A nice cider flavour to it with an excellent balance between acid, tannin and sweetness. The fruit is there with not too much apple juice going on either. I actually rather enjoy it; although I am sure it is heavily related to most of their other ciders, it is distinct from the still and juicy versions I have tried recently.

There is a reasonable aftertaste to the cider too. Its not especially long, but it is tannic - not much juice coming through at all but a nice fruity taste.

This is not a 'normal' Westons. It is quite dry and whilst not entirely challenging or complex is a satisfying drink. A good score of 70/100 earns an apple for Sainsbury's and for Westons too... now, lets see if the Westons is identical (and do I mark it down if it is???)


  1. Was at Westons on Sunday and they made quite a thing at the end of the tour about which supermarkets they make cider for - even having a line of the supermarket brands along the bar. (So you've got a few more to find yet!)

    They say the supermarkets come to them and ask them to make in a particular style. So while a) it's the same bottle and b) it's made by Westons, it's also c) something they've blended especially so that will account for the differences in dryness, ABV etc.

    Not defending Westons or even saying I agree - but it's part of their fairly aggressive push at the moment.

  2. Thanks for the comment, it is very interesting to hear what the makers themselves say about things.

    I have no doubt that the supermarkets as for particular styles, although you should read the next half of the review I think... I am only a little dubious because of the track record - Marcle Hill, The Govbernor and 1t Quality are essentially the same thing with a different name.

    Westons aren't the only ones who do this. And my comments are not a criticism as such... just a pondering:-)

  3. I have had a few bottles of the Sainsburys/Westons 2012 vintage and I must say I think it is superb. Out of the current lot available in supermarkets, I normally would go for the Apell's Imperial or Premier Cru, the Westons vintage or Old Rosie, or the superb Waitrose own vintage cider. This one in my opinion is worthy to rank alongside these ones. It is full bodied and deep, richly sweet yet bitter on the finish, and shows some benefits from the aging in terms of complexity without being overwhelmed by the oak. And this is from the dire 2012 vintage to boot - can't wait to try the 2013 example.

  4. Thanks for the comment - though I am sure there is another comment somewhere (could be on the Weston's) that says that the 2012 Westons Vintage is worse... it is all subjective, of course,

    I haven't done a lot of testing individual years on here - perhaps I should do more of that. Of course, in traditionally made ciders consistency between years is a fact of life... I do find it hard to imagine that those companies who control things in a laboratory would have such issues. But then, that is what this blog is about - trying stuff.

    I will make a point of trying more 2012/2013 ciders to see how they differ.


  5. HI, I have only tried this 2012 one - considering the rain we had that year I was just amazed that they managed to put out anything at all (or am I being naive?). You could be right that people shouldn't expect anything more from the 2013 release, but if that one is as good as the 2012, I won't complain.

  6. Having a bottle of Sainsbury's 2013 at the moment. A lot better than Westons 2013 vintage. The after taste of Westons 2013 reminds me of beer. Not that I drink beer. No strong after taste with the Sainsbury's, if there is one.