Ready for some more self flagellation as I compare a couple more of my own single varieties to those already tried as a part of 'Adventures in Single Variety'?
This time I want to run through a couple of my favourite apples. Actually, I think they are a favourite for a lot of cider makers. Dabinet and Harry Masters Jersey. Both are very similar - in fact, I reckon the two will taste very similar to each other! Both are harvested around the same time and often pressed together in a blend. You can imagine the hassle of having to keep the two separate just to try this silly exercise!! In fact, I did it so that the orchard owner and I could have a tasting session together (any excuse!).
No. Not Dabinette... it isn't a French apple, its a good old fashioned (well, early 1900's) Somerset cider apple. And this one is all of my making:-) As you can see from the photo, it is clear and golden with a nice bottle conditioned sparkle. See. No filtering, pasteurisation or forced carbonation. OK, not all ciders do this... and at the scale of a gallon it is not too hard to manage or control!
There is a strong earth/cider smell off of this cider. It isn't so much fruity as a medium bodied tannic smell. It is easy to smell what is in store! As for the taste, well its all tangy bittersweet with a medium tannin and no acid to compete. Just how I expected it - a good, thick body to the cider which is satisfying. It is a very distinctive cider, although the tangy-ness is almost pear like (OK, perhaps that is stretching the description somewhat).
There is a long aftertaste which is ultimately very drying. Well, it isn't sweetened at all or played with.
Now, the cider that I reviewed for this purpose was made by Once Upon A Tree. If I recall it was superb, with the exception that their wine like treatment led the rough edges to have been smoothed out. And I have to say that, compared with my own, it is true that it was a little too reduced for perfection. Having said that, it was delicious and perhaps should have been treated more like a wine than a quaffing drink.
Harry Masters Jersey
I am expecting this to be very similar to the Dabinett - hence trying them together. They harvest pretty much together, look very similar, smell very similar and are both moderate bittersweets. The one difference being the shape of the apple.
This drink once again is almost bright and very golden in colour with a reasonable sparkle. I absolutely promise I don't filter - anything! I once had a 'Boots' filter kit, but gave up on that a long time ago as it was simple ineffective!
The smell coming off the cider is not quite as deep as the Dabinett, although it is fairly mature with a tannic overtone. It is a little less fruity too... so not really the same at all. The taste, however, runs counter to the smell. It is much more astringent with a reasonably drying and heavy tannin. It is moderately earthy, which leads the flavour to be similar to Dabinett - just more drying. Again it is stacked full of punch and distinctive character. Very yummy indeed; even if it is my own:-)
The reviewed Harry Masters was from Ross on Wye Cider, and looking back at it now there seems to be a lot in common. Not that I would have expected anything less - I chose many of the single variety ciders to review based upon the likelyhood of unadulteration. However, my own seems a little more balanced than Ross's... even if both are very dry indeed.
There is at least one more chapter to this cider101 consideration of my own efforts. Next time I will try Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill. These are the two big hitters. These two probably are the most single varietied ciders on the market, so it will be curious to see how honest they are when taken truely on their own.