Friday, 25 February 2011
Aspall Dry Premier Cru Cyder
OK, must get my ciders/cyders/zyders right on this one! Eastern style cyder is 'the other' style of cider historically found in the UK. Arguably (and I have seen several histories of cider) it is older than the western style... lets not get into that though. Whereas the west country have specific cider fruit, the eastern counties (Kent, Suffolk, Sussex) were the garden of England - with many quality desert and culinary apple varieties.
This doesn't mean that cider apples aren't used in eastern styles. They just don't have to be used. This produces a lighter, more acidic cider with lower levels of tannin. I should add that I am not referring to just any old desert apples - I doubt whether Granny Smith or Golden Delicious would make a good cider of any style.
Aspall, based in Suffolk, and they do use some cider varieties in the cyder. However, it is most definitely an eastern style - more akin to the French style of cider than the west of England. And they have been doing it for a long time too. Another family owned business that are significantly big.
It has always puzzled me why Aspall don't make it on to CAMRA list of 'real' ciders. They claim to use 100% apple juice (in big writing at the top of the bottle). I suspect that they are using manufacturing processes in the same way as Thatchers, Westons and Sheppy's... but would be happy to be proven wrong! I confess that Aspall - especially their Premier Cru - has been consumed here rather often, although never in comparison to other ciders. It will be an interesting one, this.
First off, its fairly fizzy - this is OK with eastern/French style cider as it offsets the sharpness common when using mainly desert fruit. Secondly, its a nice straw colour which is common to ciders using dessert fruit.
Taking a glug, its a good light (but not watery) taste. There isn't much aftertaste on this one - maybe as there is less tannin. Its like a bold French cider - more body and a deeper flavour. However, something about it seems a little homogenous - a similar feeling to that of the other large producers. Don't get me wrong though, I could drink this all night. its got a zingy, tangy taste to it.
Of the score, 67 includes a good overall style score, but it lost a few character points because of its 'safe' feel. This may be a little unfair to the large producers - things have to give with large production. However, as a consumer seeking the best, I have to take that into account. There are not that many people making heritage cider in the Eastern style - and this is probably the easiest and most accessible of those... so don't take this as a bad cider by any means!