Sunday, 2 February 2014

Lobo - The Norman 2012


There is always something that continually draws me to cider made by Lobo. I don't know, maybe its that I am a proud and self confessed South Aussie and am just being biased and sheltered? Or is it that Warrick Billings - the Maker and Creator of Lobo Cider, has rare access to Adelaide Hills cider apples and uses them to great effect? Lobo ciders such as The Norman, The Crabby and Royale all contain bittersweet cider apples grown in the Adelaide Hills, and are blended together with Lobo's traditional Pink Lady base cider. This trademark gives the ciders more depth, complexity and texture which are elements I look for in cider.  

I got the opportunity to judge and spend some time with Warrick Billings late last year in Sydney. Many moons ago, Warrick used to make cider in south east Somerset specialising in Perry. What struck me was his high level of intelligence when it come to cider. His values for cider rated highly in my books, and its producers like him who we need to hang around in this time of highly commercialised, mass produced crap and be there at the end when these ciders die out. The techniques used in the making of Lobo push the boundaries of conventional cider making. Maceration, wild fermenting, bottle carbonation, cider apple/dessert apple blends and the use of crab apples are techniques used to help shape the cider house style. This may not be to everyone's cup of tea, but its intelligent cider making which is producing true cider - not boring same old, same old. 

The 2012 Norman is part of the Lobo Exp range which are a group of eclectic and more traditional styles of cider. The cider apples where macerated on pulp/skins before wild fermentation, with 5 per cent pear added towards dryness. A natural bottle carbonation ensured that the cider retained the traditional cloudy Lobo style. The colour gleamed a light yellow straw, with a slight haze. A large eruption of carbonation flooded the glass before settling down into a fine bead. 

Intense fresh green apples, floral cider apple, sour sobs and soapy characters initially burst out of the glass. Secondary notes of pear, musk, cut grass and straw also gave the nose some depth. The Pink Lady base tied the nose in well along with some wild ferment rusticity. Tiny wafts of aldehyde where also present . The nose was quite clean but very crisp and tight, as a whole. Quite pretty in a strange way.

The palate was bone dry, with good levels of tannins and zingy acidity. Flavours of crisp green apple, and lemon citrus where fresh and lean emulating a good quality Riesling. The palate structure was super tight, with a nice level of bitterness to add complexity. Being a tight and lighter weighted style, the flavours did fade out a touch towards the mid palate into a quite lean and dry finish. The alcohol was is in good balance being at 6.8 per cent. The palate may have lacked in bold apple flavours, but what was satisfying was the structure and texture which lifted the cider to a new level.    

What I enjoyed about The Norman was the honest and simple flavours. Its easy to see that the cider apples make all the difference in terms of complexity and texture. This is a cider which is very very drinkable, but also perfect with food too, such as cheeses or pork. Sounds beautiful! 

Check out my previous reviews on Lobo:
http://www.allaboutcider.com/2012/08/lobo-crabby-2011.html
http://www.allaboutcider.com/2012/06/loboroyale-2010-lobo-which-translates.html

Producer: Lobo Juice and Cider Pty Ltd
Country: Australia (Adelaide Hills, South Australia)
Alcohol: 6.8%
Website: www.loboapple.com

Rating: 15.5 out of 20
        
Cheers!

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