Friday 3 August 2012

Three Choirs Vineyards Medium Dry Cider

I think its more common for a vineyard to produce a cider as a diversification than a brewer. Well, thats my thinking - although to be fair I believe I have reviewed about the same number of each on here. There are more similarities between wine and cider producers than between brewers and cider producers... though in the drinkers head (and in some brewers heads) the two drinks are the same and should be treated that way. Oh, how cider enjoys such a crystal clear identity in the UK drinks market! NOT!

Here is another vineyard come cider maker. Three Choirs already have a reputation as a wine producer in the UK and this cider seems, from the label, to be produced with that ethos very much in mind. Without wishing to steal too much from their label, I have stolen and reproducted a chunk of their label:

"The modern facilities and winemaking expertise have been used to create a clean, fresh and fruity style of cider ideal as a quality drink with or without food.  The apples used are Bramley and Dabinett, sourced from local orchards within the Three Counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, and are cold fermented using wine yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.  The cider is also bottled at low temperatures to help preserve the fruit character and give a freshness in the glass."

 An interesting approach to making cider. Sure, I said it above that the production practices are similar. Bramley and Dabinett are an interesting choice of apples too... one that I have thought of playing around with in past years (but never actually got around to). Its the 'cold fermentation' and 'low temperature' of the bottling that puzzle me a bit. OK, I am not a wine maker. However, given that apples are pressed autumn to winter, fermentation is generally low anyway even in 'shed' temperatures. And as for preserving the fruit character... well, not sure enough about my science to comment too far on this... though lets be honest - many don't just control the temperature, they operate in clean room conditions to ensure pasteurisation etc.

However, it just seems to introduce a bunch of faff and extra hassle into something that is fairly straight forward!Lets see what it tastes like though before judging whether these processes make any difference.

Its a very light golden cider qit a low fizz and a bright finish to it. There is a faint aroma, although it smells refreshing and a touch acidic.. unusual for a Gloucestershire cider maker, but inviting none the less. I think any stereotypes need to be shelved for this cider!

The taste is very nice. Refreshing and with bite. The Bramleys have clearly been allowed to mature fully before pressing - there is no sourness to the acid at all. The dabinetts bring a moderate and fruity tannin which compliments the Bramley. Very nice. I have to say that the Bramley is almost tamed in its contribution to the cider. Whether this is through filtering, malolactic fermentation. No, not a second fermentation - mlf is a bacterial process that breaks down some of the acid... and it can be done either neturally (with a little luck) or by using a culture. Either that or this controlled temperature shenanigans actually does something?!

The cider is a bit vineous and clean - that is not a bad thing. Lets be honest, my favourite winemaker come cidermaker (Once Upon A Tree) makes cider that have a wine like complexion to them. This cider is almost Eastern counties style though. Very nice indeed.

I am still a bit at a loss to understand why its made the way it is. Its good but not ground breaking. In my little judgemental head I expect that its all set up for producing wine so its more hassle not to make it this way. However, I think the score of 74/100 sees it with a bronze apple from me.

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