Sunday 26 May 2013

Adventures in Single Variety Cider... Reviewing my own

I guess it's about time I put my money where my mouth is in regards to single varieties! Using 'Cider101' as a cover, I have been trying commercial single varieties to see what the individual varieties are like, and to see how far those apples have been adjusted in order to make them more marketable. Of course, there had to be something to measure it all by... and this is where Cider Pages fermented (I nearly said 'brewed' just to annoy:-) its own single variety ciders to use as such a yardstick.

Unfortunately I only have a gallon of each variety, so there cannot be any real sharing of tasters. However, I thought it would be nice to re-compare each of my own SV's with the commercial review.

I think this is likely to be split over a couple of posts on here. I am not that keen on diverging from my reviewing remit, but I think this serves a purpose... and will protect my innards from alcohol poisoning from having to try them all in a single session! Also, and importantly, I will not be scoring my own cider - that is neither fair nor objective. I have a policy of not sampling ciders of those who know I write these reviews, so its hardly a good basis for a fair judgement!

So, where to start?? Well, it has to be the biggest hitter - the most tannicful:

Tremletts Bitter.

Cider Pages Tremletts Bitter Cider
There are a few Tremletts ciders out there now - both Sheppy's and (I think) Gwynt y Ddraig produce them. However, for the purposes of the review - and because I trust them - I chose a Broome Farm (Ross on Wye) cider to review for Cider101. But how does it compare to my own?

Pouring into the glass, the Tremletts has dropped really clear in the bottle, with a small natural fizz (I bottled it at around 1002 gravity, so there was a little fermentation still to finish, which created the fizz).  It is a deeply golden colour too, and smells deep and fruity.

The taste is astringent and stongly tannic, although not overpowering. It is very drying though and the aftertaste is very puckering! There is no acid at all in there, and its all powerful tannin with a moderately fruity and very earthy flavour.

Overall, my own Tremletts cider is quite difficult to quaff and is consumed over the space of an hour or so. It is a thoughtful cider.

I am happy to say that this cider compare almost exactly with the Broome Farm version. They sweetened their version, which I can now understand totally. However, having written my own notes before re-reading the review, I am getting almost the same terms cropping up to describe it!

Conclusion? Its a great apple for blending!!

As I am not producing full reviews here, lets go with another one; possibly regarded as the weakest of candidates:


It is a little tricky to compare my own, unfiltered or polished Michelin SV to the one reviewed, the highly polished Once Upon A Tree Michelin. However, the flavours should match up mostly

Cider Pages Michelin Cider
For my own, the smell is moderately astringent. with a stack of fruit behind it. Interestingly, it is quite deep for what should be a light and bland apple.

The taste confirms that there is a lot of fruit going on with a very mild tannin. Actually Michelin makes a really nice drink. There may even be a little acid left. Nicely balanced cider and not challenging... I may have to make more of this!! I like rather a lot!

Compared to the reviewed Michelin, I would say that the two do compare - and that is probably about it. I must admit that I may have mistaken the astringency for earthy/woody smell in the Once Upon a Tree version, but my own is a lot less acidic and more tannic than the other. Having said that, I do recall being fairly impressed with Michelin at the time - and this proves that the apple variety works!

Next time, I will go with the Harry Masters Jersey and Dabinet. These two are favourites of mine and I have long been convinced that they smell and taste very similar.

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