Thursday, 13 December 2012

Cheeky Rascal - Apple Cider

Cheeky Rascal – Apple Cider
The Mornington Peninsula is another one of Australia’s premier wine growing regions which is situated south east of Melbourne, in Victoria. The Peninsula is only a short one hour drive from Melbourne, and is home to many attractions like vineyards, pristine coast lines and national parks. It's also home to amazing regional produce including: seafood, seasonal fruits, meats and my favourite – apples! This is one really cool part of Australia. Rebello Wines is one company from the Peninsula who are successfully utilising their produce through making wines, liqueurs and now cider. Matt and Ruth Gallace’s family have a long and entrenched history in the Mornington Peninsula through farming strawberries. But the couple broke ties with the family business over seven years ago and begun Rebello Wines (Rebello meaning ‘rebel’ in Italian).

Cheeky Rascal is the name of Rebello’s cider line, and seems to depict the company profile well. This by not taking themselves too seriously, and also to respect traditions and heritage. I like that a lot. Their cider lines which include apple cider, pear cider, mulled cider and a vast array of fruit flavoured ciders are really kicking goals with popularity at an all time high. I recently read that back in February of this year, Cheeky Rascal was up to 45,000 litres per month in production to keep up demand! Yike-a-rooney!!! That is a huge effort to all concerned. The cider is also proud of its no concentrates, flavourings or colours philosophy – which is becoming a common catch cry for new Aussie ciders.
*This bottle was purchased with a bag of spices attached to make a mulled cider. My personal preference is to review ciders with no additives, or fruit flavourings so the spices were left out.  

On opening, there was a loud “whoosh” of gas which leaped out like a genie in a bottle. Pouring into the glass, there was a vicious explosion of bubbles, which succumbed to gravity fairly fast. There was a strong and steady bead in the glass too, almost representing a fine French Champagne. The colour was a pale straw colour, very common with eating apple ciders. Nose wise, the overall experience was clean and pure. Lovely fresh, floral notes invaded the glass followed by attractive pear, candy cane (must be the Christmas fever hitting me) and confectionery musk characters. There was also an evident stewed apple character, almost resembling golden delicious which was an interesting addition. Finally a touch of a bruised granny smith character, which closely resembled aldehyde added another layer (an aroma of bruised green apples which is the direct result of ethanol being oxidised).  
The palate was some what disappointing and a real surprise. Initially, the off dry sweetness made for a fuller style, but this rapidly vanished through the mid to back palate by a weird, almost apple core/seed bitterness. The back palate was ambushed entirely by the high 8 per cent alcohol content. The thin and lighter nature of the cider coupled with the 8 per cent alcohol is a little scary – especially in the 330mL bottles. This is one cider you may not want to drink if you’re driving, as it will creep up on you very fast. The acid was good giving the mouth feel some crispness, and there were some nice fresh green apple characters. There was no textural component evident due to the eating apples used. Overall, the palate was a little ‘plain Jane’ and a touch too one dimensional for my liking. This is as simple as a palate can get in a cider. I just felt the whole palate was a tiny bit disjointed, with out of balance alcohol, thin fruit weight and apple seed bitterness.

Not taking anything away from this apple cider, but this is definitely a good example of why eating/dessert apple ciders struggle to emulate its cider apple cousins. It was very straight forward and seemed to be made to a recipe. Also with culinary apples comes higher alcohol levels, and this cider struggled trying to mask that. Perhaps the whole experience would have changed if the spices were added, but that is not for me to work out. In my honest opinion, there are many more interesting and generous ciders on the market in Australia right now compared to this. But if this is a cider you have not tried yet and are interested, then by all means give it a go. If you haven’t tried a mulled cider either, then this cider could be up you alley. For me, this cider just lacked interest, and for someone who has a short attention span (as I am a male), I need all the interest I can get.
Producer: Rebello Wines
Country: Australia (Mornington Peninsula, Victoria)
Alcohol: 8%

Rating: 5.5 out of 10


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