Saturday, 10 November 2012

Once Upon A Tree Dabinett Cider (2010)

And so we move back to a trusted and respected apple variety, made by a producer whom I trust and respect - and who should know how to handle an apple like Dabinett... This cider, made by Once Upon A Tree comes in their standard 750ml bottle and can be expected to be flat, polished and expressive of the qualities that Dabinett has as an apple. OK, apart from the filtered bit I am good with that - although their USP is really presenting cider in a wine like way.

What is Dabinett then? Well, for starters I am a little confused by the spelling of its name: is it one 't' or two? Coming from Middle Lambrook in Somerset, the original Dabinett tree is said to have been  found by chance, growing in a hedge, at the beginning of the 20th century by William Dabinett. It is a moderate bittersweet fruit - in my experience the tree is a weak grower and the fruit can be a little fickle and not exactly generous. However, it's juice is regarded as vintage quality and I certainly agree with this.

There is an alternative to Dabinett called the Black Dabinett. This is meant to be very similar but more resistant to disease - though I haven't seen any SV ciders from this. What I can tell you is if you want to buy either a Dabinett or Black Dabinett tree to grow yourself, plan well ahead. I am not sure if it is short supply or whether these are very popular but as soon as planting season begins (generally November/December in the UK) they are all sold out!

On to the cider. I am expecting a soft tannin and very fruity flavour (as is Dabinetts want - did I mention I have worked with Dabinett for a few years now:-) And the aroma is very much that - lots of fruit with a soft tannic smell to it.

I do worry that the level of 'polish' that Once Upon A Tree give their ciders via filtering removes too much of the harsh edges of a cider - although it looks lovely. And sure enough, although the taste is really nice it has definitely lost much of the earthy feel of a Dabinett. Mind you, it is all there. Fruit, tannin and a really gentle background acid (almost non existent). Mmmm, this is the real deal though - loads of Dabinett flavour. The fruit is actually quite funky in a pleasant way. However, the level of filtering to produce such a clear and bright drink does risk the cider being a little one dimensional... after all, as much as cider isn't beer, it also isn't wine (I am currently re-reading Golden Fire, a history of cider written by CAMRA bod Ted Bruning... he is quite fond of drawing comparisons between beer, wine and cider and my response to this is that it isn't the same thing... though he is quite right to draw the comparison:-)

The aftertaste is of a medium length, although wanes fairly quickly from the fruitiness to the tannin and a slight petroleum flavour of the apple. Incidentally, petroleum is probably a bad choice of words - its not really a bad thing.

This cider scores 73/100, which is a bronze apple. It is nicely presented and tastes lovely, but I do just wonder if less filtering would have been more of a benefit.

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