Thursday 14 February 2013

Green Valley Stillwood Sparkling Vintage

“Made from only Devon apples”… “Medium dry, full bodied, satisfying and strong”. Well, before opening the bottle I can attest to one of these. At 8.3% this cider is right at the strongest end of the HMRC cider scale! It is also a dark golden colour and, peering through the bottle, bright.

There are a few things I like about this cider before opening (apart from much of what I have already mentioned). The name of the orchard appears to be stamped on the label, along with its year of cropping – in this bottles case 2010. This should be a proper vintage which has been allowed to mature and develop fully. I note that the orchard, Bidgood in Woodbury Salterton is well towards the Dorset border of Devon so wonder if it will be a slightly heavier cider than ciders found deeper into Devon. Saying that, it is really just making me think of a rather bizarre holiday in Budleigh Salterton when I was 17… I wonder if the big holiday park is still there:-)

This cider wants to leap out of the bottle when opened, so I would call it a high carbonation. Given that there is no yeast in the bottle, I doubt this is bottle conditioning. For the smell, I am getting farmyard – a mature country kind of smell, as well as a good bit of acid notes. It does come across as a little cooked too – so filtered and pasteurised… perhaps this is for the sweetening. Pasteurisation itself is not a crime and can be a good tool, but if you are going to do it, beware that it is very easy to overdo (mind you, that has to be better than under doing things… exploding bottles n’all). In general, I like this smell. It is clean. If it has been pasteurised, the maker allowed the cider to develop fully beforehand.

Now, this is rather a sweet cider. I would say more a medium than its medium dry. And it also has a  bit of an odd aftertaste to it too. There are some great tannins though – this really is a good example of the Devon style of cider – tannin and acid in equal measure with some great fruit funkiness going on too.  The body of the tannic fruit seems to feel separate from the acid bite in the mouth – something I really like as it makes for a more complex and enjoyable experience.

Be careful with this cider though – you can really taste the strength of it. The aftertaste is very warming too, and it is long and delicious.

So I would guess that the downside to this cider is its sweetness and a very slight cooked note. The up side of this cider is, well, everything else! A score of 82 and a silver apple.


  1. Great Review - Massive Fan of Stillwood - as me and my friends say : "Stillwood I Love What You Do To Me"