Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Cidrerie Manoir du Kinkiz - Cornouaille AOC


Cidrerie Manoir du Kinkiz – Cornouaille AOC

Last week I had the pleasure of being asked out to dinner with one of Australia’s most esteemed wine writers Max Allen, to ‘talk’ cider. Max is the founder of his own cider company called Caulfield Mountain, but most importantly is a self confessed cider geek. As the night progressed, the guy just amazed me with his intense and intimate knowledge of all things relating to cider. So to critique and enjoy the Manoir du Kinkiz with such an intelligent and overall great bloke was fantastic to say the least.

The cider hails from Quimper, located in Brittany which is managed under the Cornouaille Appellation. AOC, or Appellation d’origine Controlee, is a French term explaining that the product you have purchased has 'place', or terroir. It also describes that the resulting cider needs to have followed strict rules in terms of apples used, and processed undertaken to make it. French wine also follows these strict AOC regulations. In simple terms, if the product is Cornouaille AOC, then it’s a certified product which has followed the set region guidelines of production.

Brittany sits in the northwest of France bordering Normandy to the east, and the English Channel to the west. Breton cider is known for its naturally sweet and carbonated farmhouse ciders, from which the juice has been keeved. As mentioned in previous reviews, keeving is a scientific process where the resultant nutrient deficient juice creates a naturally sweet, naturally sparkling and even naturally clear cider. Although Brittany falls behind in production to its Normandy neighbours, the ciders produced are beautifully hand crafted and taste amazing. It’s just a shame the humble eating apple can’t be keeved!!

On opening, the cider immediately lacked any sort of visible fizz. This led us to believe the cider was possibly old stock. Naturally keeved ciders need a smaller cork at 25 x 38mm to help release any re-fermentation pressures (as mentioned in previous reviews). So this could also explain the lack in carbonation as the gas had escaped over time. Overall this really was the only blip on what was an exceptional cider. The colour gleamed golden orange/yellow, with a slight haze appearing throughout the glass. The nose was an absolute dream, with orange peel and blossoms complementing the sweet fresh apple aromas. The oak ageing had produced some secondary brett characters, along with a distinct mould note. Now don’t stress, the mould note is typical of this style and is a beautiful addition to the nose. In short, the aroma was hugely inviting and made us excited in anticipation for what the palate had to bring.  

BAM!! That’s how the bittersweet tannins hit you when you take that first mouthful. It was like you where thrown into a fighter jet and hit top speed in matter of seconds. Your lips and the insides of your mouth immediately grip onto your teeth like superglue to wood. But in saying this though, it was crazily addictive. The tannins were high yes, but beautifully powdery and super fine. There was a stunning rich upfront sweetness, which was not cloying or heavy from the super ripe apples used. The palate was all tied in with a nice level of mild acidity. The apple notes along with the brett, carried onto the palate which made the whole experience very authentic. So really It was a very traditional and rustic palate, but super approachable to anyone new to these farmhouse styles. We certainly liked it!!

This cider is as traditional as they came, and from all accounts at retail level in Australia, it’s selling like hot cakes. This is great as it means consumers are getting out there and trying ‘real’ cider, made with traditional apples and methods (music to my ears). You really couldn’t get any further from the much leaner, dryer Australian cider styles. But do yourself a HUGE favour - find this cider, grab your best mates, sit down and just appreciate it. That’s what it’s meant for!

Producer: Cidrerie Manoir du Kinkiz
Region: Brittany (France)
Alcohol: 5.5%

Rating: 9 out of 10

Cheers!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Cider of the Month - July

The first inugural 'Cider of the Month' goes to:

Eric Bordelet - Argelette 2010


Ex sommelier Eric Bordelet has created a superior 'grand cru' cidre, that offers 20 different cider apple varieties in the one blend (40% sweet, 40% bitter and 20% acidic). It's lighty filtered, naturally sparkling, oak aged and packs tonnes of apple tannin, bitterness and flavour. Off dry and biodynamically made, it's bound to make any real cidre connoisseur very happy indeed. Perfect with roasted pork or cheese, its a handy addition to any dinner party.

Producer: Eric Bordelet
Region: Normandy (France)
Alcohol: 4.5%

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sidra Escanciador - Sparkling Sidra


Sidra Escanciador - Sparkling Sidra
Saludos desde Espana!! (Greetings from Spain!!). So I thought it would be time to head over to the land of Rafa Nadal and Fernando Alonso and try some of Spain’s finer sidra (cider) offerings. I must note, although I’m not over in Spain in physical stature, I’m there in spirit – and that’s the main thing! Sigh!

Spain is a known sidra producing country in Europe, with Asturias (in the North), and Basque (in the North East) considered the major producing regions. Asturias is made famous by the vertical pour or escanciar un culín, where a person holds the bottle above their head and pours the liquid into a glass held below their waste. The theory here is oxygen makes contact with the highly volatile sidra and aerates it, giving a sparkling mouth feel. Although this is a highly traditional Asturian procedure - seen pictured, I just see it as an attempt to make the poorly made sidra drinkable.

Sidra Escanciador is a sidra producing company from Villaviciosa, Asturias. The company has been making and crafting sidra since 1914, and has only increased in production and popularity ever since. In 1963, Sidra Escanciador also became the first Spanish producer to put their sparkling sidra into 330mL bottles! Today the company not only exports to Europe, but North and South America, Australia, Japan and parts of Africa. Not a bad effort really. Another cool little fact is their company logo is actually a little Spanish man carrying out the escanciar un culín technique.

The sidra in question is none the less, very poor. To begin, it’s filtered to a clear finish and is deep golden straw in colour. When the cork is popped, the artificial carbonation levels are evidently high as it froths up in the glass. Spilling sidra all over my timber laminate floor via a failed vertical pour was not what I had in mind, so I unfortunately didn’t give it a go. Next time maybe on the lawn!  As you swirl the sidra around in the glass, the foam rages into an angry beast and immediately you get hints of volatile acidity. *Exit positives, insert negatives now. The nose was without doubt a weird, weird experience. Firstly it was slightly corked – cork taint, also know as TCA (2,4,6 - Trichloroanisole) is a common fault in wines stored under cork. It gives off a musty, hessian bag character – which was evident here. This taint was also in competition with the volatile ethyl acetate, or nail polish remover (another wine taint), and they definitely didn’t complement each other. However, there was some stewed apple notes which I did pick up on combined with some old oak cask funk. I hate to say it, but the nose was very poor and to an average Australian consumer this would not appeal.
Palate wise it doesn’t get any better, with a sickly over ripe apple character making it hard to drink. The sweetness was very high but does give the mouth feel a sense of weight. There is some acidity lurking around which does help to cut through the sugar. But from my experiences, the sugar tasted like cheap concentrate, and the acid profile like a malic/tartaric acid combination. There was also no evidence of tannins or astringency, and along with the deep golden colour lead me to believe this sidra had been handled very oxidatively in oak. Even at 4% alcohol, the heat on the back palate was very noticeable and so was the enormous amount of steely sulphur dioxide which was not pleasant at all. So overall, the palate was very simple but largely out of balance in the key elements of sweetness, acidity, astringency, alcohol and sulphur.

This is ‘headache in the morning’ material and I would advise to stay clear of this sidra. This style is not suited to Australian cider drinker palates, and really is only for the keen cider enthusiast. I have to admit I struggled to get through a couple glasses to even review it. So do yourself a favour and maybe give this bad boy a miss, you’ll thank me for it!
Producer: Sidra Escanciador
Country: Spain (Asturias)
Alcohol: 4%

Rating: 2 out of 10

Cheers!

*picture taken from asturiasdebares.wordpress.com

Monday, 16 July 2012

Cider Apples 101

Right at this very moment you can hear the ciders of 2012 being prepared for bottle or put to sleep in barrel. Ah, what a beautiful sound that makes too! But no matter how the latest offerings have been made, they all most certainly share a similar quality. I am referring to the use of the old faithful culinary/eating apples which are being used to create Aussie ciders. The most common varieties being the likes of Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Jonathon and Granny Smith. Pink Lady is an amazing eating apple, with thousands being consumed across Australia in little kiddies lunch boxes or at the smoko table each day. But she is now becoming the apple of choice for Australian cider producers mainly due to its beautiful sweet apple characters and good acidity. Producer's like Lobo, Apple Thief and The Blackwood Valley Brewing Company are all using Pink Lady as their base blend - not bad for an apple which fetches a whopping $5.00/Kg at the supermarket! Ouch!!


I often get asked about what culinary/eating varieties work well in cider making and to tell you the truth, there is no real right answer. What the Australian cider industry lacks is a clear, defined quality system which resembles that of the traditional cider apple system (which I will explain later). What does Golden Delicious offer? or Jonathon? or a Fuji? Pipsqueak Cider from WA uses a mix ranging from Red Delicious to Granny Smith. But to quote Melissa Fettke the head Cidermaker in regards to the apples - "it's what ever we can get". This is all well and good, but as long as consistency is maintained then it's only going to be a mixed bag end result. I like The Hills Cider Company's approach by trying to get some sort of quality system in place. For example, through their experience they believe Granny Smith gives acidity and crispness, Golden Delicious gives complexity and Jonathon offers up-front apple flavour. With such distinctions able to be made between differing varieties, this then could be used as a useful tool in the blending process to help stylise a product. This also relates to pears in perry (or pear cider) with varieties like Packham, Beurre Bosc and Lemon Bergamot being used, but perhaps not totally understood. We really are lucky here in Australia that we have many quality apple growing regions producing tonnes of superior fruit.

In Australia, have you heard of Yarlington Mill, Bulmers Norman, Kingston Black or Somerset Red Streak? No? What about Frequin Rouge, Binet Rouge, Frequin Tardive de Sarthe or De Bouteville? Still no? Well you need to do your research then! These are only just a few of the amazing traditional cider varieties which are used in countries like England, Wales, France and also now Australia. They are much smaller than a conventional eating apple, and in most cases are inedible due to their high bitterness. Traditional cider apples are broken down into the cultivar classification of: sweet, bittersweet, sharp and bittersharp.

For example:

Sweet: Sweet Coppin, Sweet Alford, Golden Harvey
Bittersweet: Bulmers Norman, Dabinett, Michelin, Yarlington Mill, Brown Snout
Sharp: Brown's Apple, Improved Foxwhelp
Bittersharp: Kingston Black, Stoke Red

What culinary/eating apples lack fundamentally is bitterness and tannins - the hallmarks of a great traditional apple cider. These qualities can be substituted with bitter and astringent crab apples, but it does not give the same affect. What I am delighted to see are Australian producers like Lobo, Red Sails, Henry of Harcourt, Gilbert and Small Acres using these cider apples. The ciders are really of top class quality and offer more in terms of complexity and apple intensity. Culinary/eating apple ciders just lack this third dimension often offering thin, highly tart/acidic ciders which fail to excite. Having said that, there are some amazing ciders being produced in Australia with the less traditional apple.  

The cider apple classification is a tool which is used for the blending of varieties to create a product which is balanced in tannin, acidity and sweetness. The blending of the differing characteristics to produce a well balanced, and consistent product is the fundamental skill of a Cidermaker. But varieties like Kingston Black or Dabinett, perform amazingly well as a single varietal cider. They produce well rounded and balanced ciders of immaculate quality. Please read my review on Gywnt y Ddraig - Dabinett to learn more! So as you can see, culinary/eating apples lack this sort of system which at then end of the day could be very useful.

Obviously I have only just scratched the surface of the use of culinary/eating apples in Australian ciders. I believe there is much more we can learn in terms of their use and properties - which will only come about with experience. The use of traditional cider varieties is gaining momentum here in Australia rapidly. But until they plentifully arrive, continual prudent use of the less traditional apple needs to be maintained. I plan to discuss the more well know traditional varieties in future blogs, along with ciders which contain them.

Cheers!



Saturday, 14 July 2012

Napoleone & Co – Apple with Pear Cider


Napoleone & Co – Apple with Pear Cider
Let’s pack up our bags and head over to Victoria’s beautiful Yarra Valley, situated just a short hours drive east of Melbourne. Here you will find an abundance of great food, cool climate wine and mesmerising scenery which would keep any ‘out of towner’ content. But there’s a ‘change a brewin’ over there in Pinot country and it’s kicking goals at a rapid speed. Cider is becoming increasingly well renowned in the Yarra Valley, with the region even having its own Cider and Ale Trail. Doesn’t that sound massively enticing? But the making of cider seems to have a deep rooted history in the Valley, dating back to the 1930’s. The area itself is claimed to be one of Victoria’s oldest cider regions, so they’ve had some time to perfect their techniques!

What I like with Napoleone is the effort they are placing into informing the consumer of the raw materials and processes they use to make their ciders. With many producers, you don’t get to see the crew hard at work milling or pressing the apples and pears, or understand how their cider importantly became cider. These guys have posted pictures galore on their official Facebook page, and I got real joy out of studying them all. The visual experience then gives you a huge amount of confidence about the product, as you know it’s been made with the utmost respect.

I thought it would be a nice idea to review the Napoleone Co. apple with pear cider, as pear hasn’t made any formal appearance so far. Pear cider (or Perry) in Australia is becoming increasingly popular, with its more subtle flavours and aromas. Done right, it can be a marvellous drink offering a new alternative to plain apple cider. Unfortunately names like Bulmers, Magners or god help me Strongbow are flooding our Australian market with cheap pear imports. *There I said it! I promise that this will be the only time EVER in this blog that the names of Satan are mentioned!! 

I was really looking forward to having a decent look at this cider, as the apple /pear mix is a perfect match when blended perfectly. The colour was in and around the pale straw spectrum, and the cider itself was filtered to a sparkling clear finish. In the glass the carbonation was light and fluffy, which had a nice long presence after pouring. Nose wise, it was a little restrained but I purely put that down to the pears involved. The blend of apples used in this cider consists of Pink Lady, Fuji and Granny Smith. So you would expect to get some apple sweetness combined with the crispness of the Grannies. The pears used are the ever reliable Packham and Beurre Bosc, which give in Napoleone’s views, ‘aromatics and earthiness’. Lifted notes of pineapple were evident on the nose, almost reminiscent of an exotic fruit bowl. It really was a pretty nose which also showed hints of candy apple and red eating apple. Overall, it was a very clean nose with a good balance of apple and pear characters.

What you get on the palate is a big burst of up-front sweetness which fades quite fast. The carbonation softly foams up in the mouth, and gives off a sherberty character which is quite interesting. This adds some texture to the experience as there is no real astringency or bitterness anywhere to be seen. The up-front sweetness could potentially be balanced a little more with some Granny Smith acidity to help sharpen up the palate. You do, however, see some delicate pear hints intertwined with the Pink Lady and Fuji characters which are quite nice. The overall palate experience was good, and you get the feeling that it’s a real Winemakers drink (as it has been made by a Winemaking Company).

I’d describe this cider as a young softly spoken woman, who’s elegant but bashful and doesn’t like too much attention being put on her. The cider is very drinkable, but hides in its shell not opening up any of its secrets easliy. The delicate Yarra Valley fruit does offer sweet, pretty characters that all complement each other nicely. The sweetness of this particular cider may become a little heavy for some consumers, but don’t let that hold you back. The Cidermaker Behn Payten has crafted a soft, quietly spoken, delicate apple with pear cider that is overall a good drop.

Producer: Punt Road Wines – Napoleone and Co.
Country: Australia (Yarra Valley, Victoria)
Alcohol: 4.5%

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Cheers!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Batlow Premium Cider


Batlow Premium Cider

This cider is another classic case of a product utilising a region’s renowned produce. Batlow lies in the cooler climates of the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales (around 450Kms from Sydney), where conditions are perfect for growing superior apples. There is a real history behind the growing of apples in Batlow, and it’s no surprise that we see a cider coming out of this region. It’s reminiscent of the quality ciders coming out of the Adelaide Hills - South Australia’s premier apple growing region. Why not exploit a regions produce to help showcase its qualities and share them with the world? That’s my theory anyway!

The cider’s presentation really stands out for me, with its longer necked bottle shape and striking green label. It just stands out in a bottle shop and screams “pick me, pick me!!” The reference of ‘3½ crushed Batlow apples in every bottle’ is such a clever idea as it gives you a sense of intimacy with the product. But at the end of the day, you get that feeling of pride and respect not only for the apples used, but Batlow itself in this cider. I really admire that.
On opening, I was surprised by the higher level of carbonation. It was good to see bubbles raging in the glass for once, I must admit. The colour resembled pale straw with the cider being filtered completely clear, both typical of a dessert apple cider. On inspection of the nose, upfront green apples intertwined with citrus, pineapple notes welcome you. Basically the nose is clean, fault free and fresh, just what you want in a cider like this. It does, however, lack the pretty floral characters which are seen in ciders from the Adelaide Hills. But in saying that, the acid profile seemed much more focused compared to its SA counterparts. What I can conclude here is that there is some level of regional variance in apples and the subsequent cider – just like grapes and wine.

The palate straight up is dry, but not tart like the Huon Cider from Tasmania recently reviewed on the blog. The dryness is quite thirst quenching, but more importantly balanced with lean acidity. The acidity offers up fresh, zippy attributes that are enhanced by the foaming bubbles which explode in your mouth. I was a little worried that being dry and at 5.2% alcohol, that it may be unbalanced and alcohol ‘hot’, but everything was balanced. There are some residual hints of sulphur, but it was not overly offensive. Once again there is some bitterness on the back palate which I am seeing continually in Australian ciders.

Overall, the cider is a fresh, clean stock standard cider. To someone like myself who loves complexity and texture, the cider is a little one dimensional and plain. In saying that however, it was quite enjoyable to drink and would be perfect on tap at your local. To finish, I love the overall presentation of this cider and love producers who only use the best produce a region has to offer. Nice cider, great work!

Producer: Batlow Brewing Company
Country: Australia (Batlow, New South Wales)
Alcohol: 5.2%

Rating: 7 out of 10

Cheers!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Houghton Cider Company – Apple Cider


Houghton Cider Company – Apple Cider
I am a big fan of Brett Thorburn, the founder of Houghton Cider Company. He’s passionate about what he does, passionate about the Adelaide Hills and most importantly passionate about cider. He is working tirelessly to try and educate consumers about 'real' Australian cider and help build a strong industry. He has created things like a 2012 Houghton Cider School presentation on his website (www.houghtoncider.com.au) which is informative, educational and an overall good read. He is also working on another initiative called the International Cider Guild, which is a collaboration of different cider producers from around the world. The goal of this guild would be to promote cider from all over the world and educate consumers. Everything Brett is doing and setting out to achieve is only going to help Australia become renowned for making quality ciders and perry’s, with consumers in the end being the winners. Sounds perfect to me! 
  
Now to the cider itself! I was so excited to get my hands on this cider and give it a go. I had been following Brett and the Houghton Cider Company for awhile and was so impressed with everything he was doing. But I’d lost sight that “Oh yeah, he makes cider hey?!” So I was intrigued to see if he could back his cider pledging up by making a good, honest cider himself. Well the answer?......You little ripper!! The cider manages to encapsulate the Adelaide Hills into a bottle, and it’s super impressive.

Firstly, the cider is a little darker in colour showing off a nice golden tinge. It’s been made purposely to have only a small amount of carbonation, which I am seeing in a lot of Australian made ciders. It is also filtered and completely clear and brilliant. Nose wise, this cider is amazingly varietal with outstanding red apple characters from the red delicious and jonathon apples. The aromatics just jump out at you, with floral notes and tropical fruits. The nose smelt strangely like mangoes….yeah I was surprised too. But it all works and what you get is this aromatic burst like freshly pressed apple juice. Ciders retain their varietals much better at cooler fermenting temperatures and this is no exception.

The palate is beautiful, clean and crisp with the granny smith apples offering nice malic acid freshness. There is a small amount of apple sweetness and just a touch of bitterness on the back palate. The light fizz helps excite the mouth feel too, overall giving a great drinking experience.  

What I love here is the amazing Adelaide Hills apples which offer so much and make this cider a pleasure to drink. They are the real hero's here in this very well made cider – similarly to the Hills Cider Company. I would recommend anyone to head out and find this cider as it’s a cracker and you know it’s made with only the best intentions. Good cause, good philosophy, great cider! Super job HCC!

Producer: Houghton Cider Company
Country: Australia (Adelaide Hills, South Australia)
Alcohol: 5.1%

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Cheers! 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Two Metre Tall – Huon Farmhouse Dry


Two Metre Tall – Huon Farmhouse Dry
The boys from 2MT have really captured the essence of Tasmania and the Tasmanian apples in this cider. The label is beautiful on the 500mL bottle, and was a real joy to read. I absolutely loved the label over the top of the bottle. It gives you an insight into the variety used, how they made it, the vintage, fill dates and even bottle number. It really lets you get personal with the product and get excited to consume it. All of it is super clever and it shows these guys are truly passionate about where they come from and what they do. I believe they have also built a new brewery/cidery which is very exciting for them I bet!

This cider is all about being 'hands off', and let nature do its thang! No sulphur, unfiltered and bottle conditioned – which explains the 7.5% alcohol.  The variety they used is sturmer pippin which is a fairly heavy bearing variety, a really good eating apple and often used in cider making, seen picutred below.


The carbonation as previously mentioned, is created by methode champenoise where the fizz is produced in the bottle. There really isn’t much carbonation to speak of when it’s poured into the glass. It claims an “exceptional fine bead”, but I failed to see that. There was some spritz on the palate, but as the bottle says – “expect bottle varitation", so I’ll let that one slide. I like how its cloudy and unfiltered, throwing off a golden straw colour.
The nose shows lots of ethyl acetate (nail polish remover) and acetic acid (vinegar), or volitile acidity (VA). Searching underneath that you can find freshly picked apples and a citrusy lemon character. The nose was a tiny bit subdued, but you can pick up on some yeast complexity. This is really a traditional farmhouse cider, so you can applaud the 2MT boys on that. To me, the nose smells a lot like you‘ve left your homebrew sit too long in the shed over summer at 40C, and it's become a little stale.

Palate wise, she’s super dooper dry. I’d say almost under 1.000 specific gravity! It took till almost a quarter into the bottle to adjust to the dryness. Being so dry and tart, the 7.5% alcohol produced from the bottle conditioning becomes over apparent and you’re left with a very warm sensation on the back palate. True to the extended tank maturation, there is added complexity and texture from the yeast and solid less. The freshly picked apple character does follow through to the palate to make a cameo appearance and the light fizz helps excited the feel.
Really this cider is boarding on too dry. I’m thinking EC1118 yeast was used in the fermentation of this cider. This yeast ferments sugars very efficiently to complete dryness with neutral attributes to the nose and flavour. I’d love to see some residual sweetness in this style and let the sturmer pippin apples lift this cider to a new level. Keeping with the farmhouse style with no filtration, no sulphur and bottle conditioning, pasteurization could be the answer. That’s just my recommendation. The tartness and dryness may not be to everyone’s liking, but on a hot day this cider would be sexy on some ice. If you’re game, go find this cider and see what Tasmania is all about!

Producer: Two Metre Tall Company Pty Ltd
Country: Australia (Huon Valley, Tasmania)
Alcohol: 7.5%

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Cheers!

Boulard Cidre De Normandie Brut


Boulard Cidre De Normandie Brut
Right oh, let’s start delving into a little French action shall we? This number hails from the famous cider producing region Normandy, which is in the North West of France. Some of my favourite ciders (cidre’s in French) come from here, with their beautiful apple freshness and focused tannin profiles. A fair whack of ciders that are created in Normandy often come from calvados producing companies – calvados being an apple spirit quite popular in France. This cider is no exception with the company, Calvados Boulard producing this cider out of Coquainvilliers.

If you are lucky enough to grab a bottle of this or any Normandy cider, you’ll notice 'Cidre Bouche' splashed on the label (pronounced Booshay). This basically means the cider is bottled under cork in champagne style bottles, usually with smaller corks at 25 x 38mm to release any unwanted carbonation pressures.

It’s really cool when you open up a bottle of sparkles or champagne and here that magic “POP!!” sound. That’s exactly what you are greeted with when you twist the cork off this cider. Pouring into the glass it throws off a nice foamy head, and constant bubble almost like a beer. It is filtered brilliant with a golden orange appearance – typical colour of French cidre’s.

The nose offers old dusty oak, with orange blossom's and green apples. It really is a rustic, farmhouse nose, which sort of resembles a blue mould character. You get an impression from the nose that it’s going to be a sweet cider on the palate but being a brut, it finishes quite dry. What you see on the palate is bitterness which is balanced with a good tannin structure. Indicating that bittersweet and bittersharp apples were most likely used. The carbonation foams up quite a bit in the mouth which helps add texture and mouth feel. The cider does finish quite short in apple flavour, leaving you again with the bitterness and tannins on the back palate, but overall it's a pretty solid cider.

This cider is dry, clean and uber fresh, like the apples were picked just yesterday. If you have never experienced a cider from Normandy then this would be a good place to start. It’s not ostentatious, it’s almost a little shy, but it keeps you interested. It’s a perfect example to help an inexperienced cider drinker to understand the difference between dessert/cooking apple ciders, and real cider apple ciders. Get out there and give it a go, you won’t be disappointed!!

Producer: Calvados Boulard
Country: France (Normandy)
Alcohol: 4.5%

Rating: 7 out of 10

Cheers!