Thursday 3 March 2011

Sheppy's Dabinett Cider

OK, working through the supermarket ciders (well, ciders that are available in the supermarkets) I was bound to get to a single variety cider sooner or later. This is a new(ish) trend for cider makers. In much the same was as wine producers have a tendancy towards single grape varieties, single variety (SV) cider is (or puports to be) cider made from a single apple variety.

Is there any single apple that has all a cider needs? As it is commonly believed that a good cider needs a balance of tannin, acid and sweetness, this seems like this may not be achieved without a bit of tampering and adjustment. Never the less, is it any good? That is the important bit. Does using a single apply variety produce something with character and style - sure its going to be different.

There are a few varieties that are commonly used for SV cider. Generally, they have been cider varieties - Dabinett, Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill and Stoke Red stpring to mind easily. More recently, you can get desert quality SV ciders - Katy, Egremont Russet, Cox. This rewrites the rulebook as far as 'balance' goes.

And so on to the first SV cider. Sheppy's Dabinett is probably the most widely drunk SV Cider. Partly because it is so widely available... although if it wasn't popular, I suspect they would move on to another variety. It says on the bottle it is a Somerset cider... well, Dabinett originates in Somerset, so I guess that would qualify by default then:-) It is classified as a medium cider, which is quite a lot sweeter than I expected - so there has been quite a lot of adjustment to it.

Saying that, it is a nice golden colour (with rather too many bubbles...) and gives a slight smell of cider. On the first taste, it is a bit syruppy, although goes down smoothly enough for me. Its all a little tame though - I expected more character out of such a distinctive apple as Dabinett... though I expect its in the sweetening that there is the pay off. Dont get me wrong it does have a distinctive taste, its just that Dabinett is a pure bittersweet and generally there is only a litte acid in it. This one is more balanced - more dulled if you like.

It went down pretty well. As an SV cider, its not one that you will either love or hate - I like it although am not bowled over by it. It doesn't rock me either way. Although I must confess I have yet to find an SV cider that does bowl me over - they can (and do) rock you one way or another. As a mass produced cider, its definitely not bad... sadly still far too many people don't stop long enough at the cider shelves of a supermarket to raise their eyes above the Diamond white or supermarket 3 litre own brand for under £3.

If I were asked to teach someone about cider - this would be on the list. Mainly because its so available, but also as it is probably as easy and accessible SV cider as you are likely to get.

A score of 65 is actually pretty good, I think.

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