Saturday, 8 September 2012

Heron Valley Cider (GBBF)



Although I wanted to review mainly ciders outside of the traditional counties, I find myself opting for another south western cider, this time from Devon (I rarely get to Devon these days so the opportunity ought to be taken!)

This cider comes from a renowned producer called Heron Valley. I was glad to see this one in the listings as, to be honest, I had read about them in several of the books I own. I struggle to remember which off the top of my head - Ciderland and either 'Cider' or Naked Guide to Cider. All three are worthy purchases: Ciderland being a bit of a tome (albeit with fantastic pictures), 'Cider' is CAMRA's guide, which is much broader in scope but worth it nonetheless, and the Naked Guide to Cider - a lighter, less detailed look at cider but fun to read.

Cider across the UK has typically different personalities. I have said before that Herefordshire producers have a different idea about cider from Somerset, and you can find differences in cider from the other traditionally South West counties - Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire etc. I am expecting this one to have more dessert apples providing the acid, with fruity bitter sweets providing the body and tannin.

Now, I guess its worth a comment, given there are so many 'new' producers. The above holds less and less these days. Commercial producers from all over the country are making really good ciders - often with little access to cider fruit (so most are Eastern in style). This is good. Perfectly decent ciders come in the eastern tradition. What does make me a little sad is that there appears to be some who don't bother learning the trade before trying to cash in on an industry in relative growth. This doesn't just mean the traditional styles (as in, getting them right) but also some basic principles of making cider in the first place. My hope is that the market 'outs' those who don't try - there are certainly one or two at GBBF which I would say need a lot of work.


Onto this cider. It does look a touch filtered (although I could be persuaded its not!) and is shiny and golden. It does smell a little sweet, but is nicely fruity and appetising.

Now, I have only really tasted one cider so far at the Great British Beer Festival that I would say is 'run of the mill'... well, run of the mill isn't meant as a put-down. What I mean is a balanced tannin and acid. This fits that category. It is a very moderate cider - gentle tannin sits alongside a gentle acid with a gently fruit taste. Not an onslaught to the taste buds and absolutely nothing done badly.

On the down side, there isn't anything that leaps out at you - no individual element that makes you stop and think. However, this is probably due to the number of different ciders at this festival. If I tried this at home on its own, I think I wouldn't have noticed it.

As a lovely footnote to this cider, the aftertaste is long and fruity and develops a smokey profile on the palette. Well matured and kept then.

A bronze apple to Heron Valley with 73/100.

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