Wednesday 19 December 2012

Gwynt y Ddraig Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy

Gwynt has received a mixed bag of reviews from me - some are absolutely fantastic and others, well, yes... there are others. I think this reflects opinion on them as a cider maker a bit. Call it jealousy or whatever, they have done well and their position as number one Welsh cider maker (that is number one in volume... OK?!) was always going to challenge some. Do they pasteurise? Do they 'muck about' with their cider?

Not sure I really care too much about this - after all, I have seen and heard a lot of practices in the industry. Sometimes I wish there would be a way of catching makers out. Other times, I just figure that you can only be honest to yourself without worrying about what everyone else is up to! I think the latter position is probably the one that keeps you most sane and, whilst it would be great to clamp down on some practices I doubt you will ever find that everyone plays by the same rules. And would punters really want them to?

So, what would I clamp down on? Well, I think I have put my cards on the table in regards to this already. I would double the minimum juice content for cider from 35% to 70%. OK, there are people who would take this further, but it would solve a lot of ciders challenges in one move. What else? Well, legally anyway there is no need to do anything about fruit ciders. They are already not supposed to be called cider. Perhaps I would enforce it a bit more. Finally, ingredients. If its good enough for Marks and Spencers then its good enough for everyone else... and would make it more obvious what goes into your glass.

The CAMRA APPLE bods have an issue with pasteurisation. I would argue they are barking up the wrong tree, although perhaps they should ask for a box of cider to state whether it has been pasteurised. Me? I have never seen a reason to pasteurise although can understand why its done. To sweeten with juice or sugar (basically, fermentable stuff) and when cider is held by a third party (wholesaler etc.) and you have no idea how long it will be in store for. These seem fairly reasonable to me.

OK. On with the show. Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy is a vintage of 2009. Nice. Its also 5.3%, which I think is also great. On the bottle is claims 'award winning' (the subject of award winning cider makers ought to be the subject of its own post really... I think all cider makers seem to have them - which in turn makes awards pretty pointless).

On opening, there is a definite 'pfst', giving way to a low carbonation in this deeply golden cider. It has a cracking fruity smell which holds a mildly earthiness about it. Yum. There are a few sulphites up my nose too.

OK - the taste is a little surprising given the aroma. Its not nearly as fruity as the smell and its also rather sweet (which I confess to being a bit disappointed with... but that is most definitely a personal thing). Whilst it is a balanced scrumpy, there are some good tannins in here. It is all a bit controlled though - it does feel pasteurised in the mouth, with a slight caramel texture going on. Its also well balanced and moderate which comes across as a touch of being manufactured... which a scrumpy is generally not (hope you see what I mean!)

There is a long aftertaste to this drink though, which is lovely as the tannins linger and do well. Is it a vintage? I think so, yes. It has a smokiness about it which you don't get from young cider... you don't get from many ciders to be honest.

I like this drink. Sure, it leaves the questions over Gwynt y Ddraig open for discussion (you didn't expect a review to answer questions as opposed to resulting in more?:-) With a score of 77/100 its another Bronze apple.

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