Monday 21 November 2011
Thatchers 2011 Vintage Cider
I found this cider gracing the shelves of Sainsbury's the other day and have since found that it is a new addition to the Thatchers family of ciders... as in very recent indeed.
Now, I have to say this bottle confuses me to the extreme. You see, typically a vintage cider is one that is of vintage quality, which the producer has left to properly mature and refine - say, maybe 12 months+ old. This one appears to have been pressed, fermented, matured and bottled in the 2011 pressing season.
OK, lets be a realist - marketing people have taken over the cider industry and what most people think of as vintage is up for grabs to be interpreted by some marketing bod. And I can only think this is what Thatchers have done - I wasn't expecting to see 2011 vintage cider until late next year... in fact, I am not expecting to see any 2011 cider until April/May next year. So I guess this means its their vintage for 2011... not a vintage made in the 2011 season.
Read the label - "... using the pick of the apples from the 2011 crop..." Hang on. The 2011 crop isn't finished yet! I am still pressing apples and am pretty sure most others are too (and am told that the best cider apples are the late ones). Add to this paradox the fact that nothing but the earliest cider will have had the chance to finish fermentation yet?! I am sure it is quite possible to force fermentation speeds, but then what about maturation? Not specifically thinking about vintage cider, but about 2011 cider generally - this is something of a major anomoly!
I hope this is just a mistake and what they meant was that its the 2010 apples pressed in 2010 for a 2011 vintage (which, although still a little confusing would at leasr make sence). In truth, my bet goes on it being the Thatchers marketing machine trying to be clever and/or trying to be 'on trend' with some kind of vintage cider fad going on. Either that or else they have some serious fermentation and ageing kit at Thatchers that I have never heard of before. If I am wrong about this, please someone tell me!
Maybe I had better get on to reviewing the cider eh!
The aroma fine (as in faint) but a nice cider smell... coupled with a whiff of sulphite too. Its a lovely golden colour with a moderate but persistent carbonation.
To taste, there is a sense of the 'Green Goblins' about this cider, albeit that I think its a deeper taste - its certainly stronger in terms of alcohol content, but it does still feel a little engineered. It is filtered and bright with a carbonation that I would have thought was forced at bottling. Its quite a juicy cider too, so maybe its sweetened with apple juice - more common than you might think and one of the more natural ways of sweetening a cider.
Aftertaste is juicy and moderate - not real tannic kick or acidic bite to it.
The drink is pleasant and I actually rather like the juicy, deep flavour (although the sweetness is a little on the high side. I must admit that having tried many other 'vintages' this one is a little light. That may be why I am a touch disappointed with it... other than the whole thing just confuses the hell out of me! As a cider, I would say it is as good as the 2010 Vintage.
A score of 74 sees it with a bronze medal. However, that bronze is not for their marketing team!