Monday 21 January 2013

Sainsbury's Sparkling French Cider

Sorry - some of these names are just far too long to write into the title! It is (properly) called; Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Sparkling French Cider. Its an interesting one for me as I do like French style cider and this one is produced in France for Tesco's... which I think is rather neat. Mind, if it's their best range then I think one should expect them to pay a bit more attention to provenance etc.

So, another own brand cider. French style barring the beer bottle sized delivery (normally, French cidre comes under cork and wire). And there are some curious and possibly encouraging bits of information on the label. Although there are no ingredients listed, it does say 'made from 100% pure apple juice". Sadly, as a result of a certain Irish pear cider claim that 100% pear juice means that of the pear juice in the drink, its 100% pear juice (NOT that it is 100% juice in total) I am a bit cynical about this kind of statement. In fact, I think that it has been devalued to the extent that we must probably avoid using it - damn your eyes marketing types! Saying something has 100% of anything doesn't mean that it has 100% TOTAL of anything!

Aside from that, this cider was produced by a real, live French producer for Sainsburys. OK, not exactly earth shattering news - though I guess the fact it wasn't made by Westons or Thatchers is something! Les Celliers is a producer based in Brittany... well, only just in Brittany (just south of St Malo), but nevertheless well in French cider country. They are actually a rather large cooperative - cider is only a part of their 'agro' business (cheese, milk, veg, water etc.). Saying that, they produce over 10 million bottles per year! So, perhaps not quite the artisanal cider producer - but certainly as much as the UK 'own' producers.

On opening, this cider is foamy and fizzy. Exactly what you would expect. It is also very shiny and bright - and a brown/golden colour which actually looks very impressive. Its smell is very fruity - the cider is only 4%, so it will have been made in the normal French way by being halted at 4%. This leaves a lot of juice in the cider and as well as sweetening the drink also makes it quite juicy/fruity.

Having let the bubbles settle down a bit, I try it and. Wow. It is really nice. It is deep, quite heavy on the tannins and the fruitiness is all there. Sure, it could come across as a little syruppy - although this is probably just the juice - it isn't a safe cider though. I noted the label mentioned a 'crisp drink'. Not for me it isn't. In fact the acid is understated; giving the bitter fruit all the attention... and it is really good for it.

If I have any grumble about this, it is that it has been pasteurised too much, and filtered bright (but mostly its pasteurisation). There is a slight caramel flavour going on in the background. It isn't off putting but is noticeable.

There is a satisfyingly long aftertaste to the cider too. Actually quite drying, although the drink itself is fairly medium dry in character.

I like this cider. Its well made and presented and will give the drinker a good flavour of the French method of cider making. Sure, I have some reservations about its full juice credentials, and it has been filtered and pasteurised (which is probably more because Sainsbury's demands it rather than the producer doing it anyway... but then, what do supermarkets really understand about cider?!) If I could get them to really grapple with the idea that cider doesn't need to be pasteurised in a bottle - that they are just being far too safety conscious and prescriptive - then I would have achieved a great deal for the cider industry!!

A silver (yes, SILVER) apple for Sainsbury's Sparkling French Cider with 86/100. Very good indeed!