Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Once Upon A Tree Michelin Oak

Having now got the latest batch of French ciders out of the way, I would now like to get going on my 'Autumn' project – OK, its fast turning into a Winter project. This will give a slightly different slant to the reviews; the idea being explore the taste and profile of specific single varieties to see how the apples come across.

I start this project with the humble Michelin… Once Upon a Tree’s version of it (well, there are not many producing a single variety Michelin cider!). Michelin is an apple I am familiar with and have used before. It’s also a variety that I have heard other cider makers like and dislike in equal amounts. Its a bold choice for a single variety though, so worth a shot to start with.

I have labelled these reviews as both reviews and as 'Cider101'. This is so that I can easily pull them out and look at them more than anything else. I do want to emphasise right at the start that this is a ‘Master Class’ in apple varieties... if you want an expert on apples then there are several others who are far more qualified! This just a bit of fun and experimentation!

OK. Michelin is a mild bittersweet cider apple was imported into the UK from France in the 19th century. It has become a popular variety to grow for cider making, although not because of its vintage qualities but rather its reliability and cropping tendencies. Andrew Lea, in his ‘’, describes Michelin as the ‘Golden Delicious’ of the cider world – a pale green fruit that adds bulk to a cider bit not an awful lot else. It might be used to also balance out some wildly sharp fruit or heavy tannins.

So, what can it bring to a cider (and why has Once Upon a Tree taken the bold step of making a single variety cider out of it?) The 750ml bottle stands before me. Clear glass means I can see the brightly filtered and golden liquid inside. Knowing Once Upon a Tree I am expecting to find it non sparkling and vineous. Let’s not make assumptions though.

Sure enough, it is a flat cider. Boy, can you smell wood off this cider. I confess that I rarely, if ever, get the oak in a cider - although smelling this its clear what oak smells like now so perhaps (thinking back) it does come through. It is a woody smell (surprise!) but could also be 'earthy' too. This cider is heavy with it in its aroma while the fruit smell falls into the background.

The taste confirms that the main dominating feature is the oak. The Michelin is very subtle and in the background just too far. There is a reasonable acidity too which I doubt comes just from Michelin - so its heavily oaked and adjusted a little. But is not a bad cider when you get in to it. At 8%, this is another cider meant to be taken considerately - a wine cider rather than a quaffing cider.

I am fairly impressed with the Michelin, although I can see why its a bulking fruit. It has a gentle complexion of its own that is fruit, mildly tannic and interesting in its own right. Its simply far too delicate and soft. It is easy to see how it does get dominated easily though (as it has been with the wood). I am not entirely sure its worked as a single variety (though well worth trying for the experience).

The aftertaste is all oak; fruit and cider having died away fairly quickly. I am not sure if this is a shame. The oak is reasonably pleasant, although there is just too much of it.

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