Wednesday 16 February 2011

Waitrose Vintage French Cider

Waitrose, that traditional family cider producer... no, wait, thats not right. Start again.

For those that weren’t aware, Waitrose make their own cider out of apples from the Leckford Estate in Hampshire. This was once the residence of Mr Lewis (I presume of John Lewis, the company that own Waitrose). However, on the label it says 'Made from Normandy apples' and 'Produce of France' - not that it ultimately matters, but it is a little confusing.

French cider (or the French style of cider) is different from a traditionally English cider in a couple of ways. Firstly, the process is slightly different, producing a drink which is naturally sparkling and lower in alcohol. This is done by stopping the fermentation process earlier. By stopping (or slowing down) a fermentation cider can be bottled sweeter (without adding anything more) and use the Co2 created by any residual yeast action to carbonate. Do note, though, that there is nothing intrinsically French about this process

Whilst the French styles will still use cider apple varieties, they will also use high quality desert apples – hence the cider is lighter and more acidic than your western styles of cider. Anyway, enough  babble already! What does this one taste like? 

Its described as a naturally sparkling dry cider. Well, I like natural bubbles (honest, you can tell the difference!) and I do like dry cider.It is not dry like you would find a still dry cider, the bubbles enhance whatever sweetness is left in the drink. Its also a very light cider with an easy going sharpness underlining the appley flavour. There are little or no pronounced tannins at all. Its very much a nice summer drink... which on a rainy February day does feel a little out of place!

As with most drinks, the French authorities control their cider industry fairly rigidly (even this Waitrose drink has been via the Controllee). And this is a fine example of a particular style of cider. There are better French ciders - from France, but this is easier to get hold of and well worth a try.

The score of 68 is pretty good - its a pretty good cider...

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