Sunday, 1 June 2014

Apple case study: Somerset Redstreak

Somerset Redstreak apple
One apple which has fascinated me for quite some time is the bittersweet cider apple - Somerset Redstreak. The apple itself originated in the county of Somerset England, and is famously known to produce a quite mild cider with soft tannins, perfectly suited to medium sweetness. The apple ripens early in the grand scheme of apple growing and produces solid crops of attractive green-yellow coloured with red striped fruit. It's best known to be blended with sharper varieties to form far more complex ciders and is one of the main commercial varieties planted in the UK.   

Mostly found in the UK, Somerset Redstreak is slowly making its way to Australia with producers like Daylesford Cider, Lost Pippin and Lobo Cider already having exclusive access to it. Around two years ago, there was some debate whether the apple was actually 'true' here in Australia. Hence, I never planted them in my orchard. But I have been assured recently that the apple is in actual fact the real deal. So I think I will be ordering some bare rooted SR's this year!  

But to highlight this handy little cider apple, I have sourced two ciders - one from Herefordshire and one from Somerset. The idea being to taste through them to really get an understanding of how this cider apple operates. The cider from Somerset is a 100 per cent single varietal made by Perry's, and the second is a blend of Somerset Redstreak and Kingston Black from Herefordshire producer Once Upon A Tree. Off the top of my head, I don't think there are any 100 per cent Somerset Redstreak ciders made in Australia? Please correct me if I am wrong. But this was a tasting which I was very much looking forward to!  

Perry's Cider - Somerset Redstreak
Perry's has been producing 100 per cent apple juice ciders since 1920 in Dowlish Lake, Somerset. Today, their natural approach to making quality craft cider is the backbone which drives this company. The Somerset Redstreak cider is part of their 'single varietal' range with the fruit sourced from their Knowle St Giles Orchard. 

The colour mimics burnt caramel, filtered clear and with a light carbonation on pouring. The nose offers up hints of lifted Christmas cake spice, dusty old oak and floral apple. There is this sweet/sour combination which makes the nose seem very luscious and rich. However, the aromas ensure the cider maintains a freshness which is very inviting. Quite a clean nose, which is simple yet full of varietal character and complexity.

On tasting, what immediately impressed was the balance of grainy tannins and rounded medium sweetness. This is what I expected to see. On top of that, rich apple flavours added this addictive moreish and candied flavour. I described it as 'thick' in my notes. There was just a hint of back palate bitterness with good acidity adding structure. The flavour does die off towards the end, but really a nice example of a single varietal Somerset Redstreak. 

In the end, this cider was a simple, fresh and clean example. Perhaps lacked the punch which you would expect from a single varietal, but I enjoyed its soft characters, and sweet charm. All was in balance too. Very drinkable.

Producer: Perry's Cider
Country: England (Dowlish Wake, Somerset)
Alcohol: 6.0%

Once Upon A Tree - Kingston Redstreak
Once Upon A Tree was formed in 2008 in Herefordshire by Ann and Norman Stainer and Hannah and Simon Day. Simon Day is a Winemaker turned Cidermaker (sounds like someone else I know....) and produces all the ciders at their 22 acres Dragon Orchard situated in Putley near Marcle Ridge, Herefordshire. This is a cider I just had to get and taste! This blend is 85 per cent Kingston Black, and 15 per cent Somerset Redstreak.

The colour was a beautiful deep tawny which was filtered clear. This cider is made as a still, therefore no carbonation was seen. The nose offered up super rich and luscious floral apple, candy apple, and hints of spice with complimentary dusty oak and orange blossom characters. Can't believe how fresh this is, like it was made yesterday! Some secondary leathery, old barnyard notes added a beautiful depth. So crisp and clean for 2010. Sensational nose. 

The palate was full and packed with body and weight. There was a tonne of substance here. The still nature did not make this thin or lifeless. A medium sweetness added weight, with older oak and candy apple flavours. There was a tiny lick of tannin, but balanced well with the acidity and sweetness. What impressed was the looooooong lingering length. Beautifully moreish and so enjoyable. A tiny hint of VA just added some lift too. 

This was a very broad cider, with tonnes of flavour and depth. You can see this is a good blend of bittersharp KB's and bittersweet SR's. They compliment each other well. Beautiful cider, and really highlights the varietals in the blend well. Thoroughly enjoyable. 

Producer: Once Upon A Tree Ltd
Country: England (Putley, Herefordshire)
Alcohol: 7.5%

So there we go. Two examples of this apple from two great producers and both were a pleasure to drink. The Somerset Redstreak is a very handy apple to have adding softness with what I find a distinctive barnyardy apple note. I love this characters and it works very well in cider. It works well as a single, but I think it suited better to a blend. It just needs a helping hand to broaden its appeal with some bigger, bolder flavours of other varieties. I just cant wait to get a few trees in the ground! 


1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I'd just like to point you in the direction of Henry of Harcourt. They produce a Somerset Redstreak made purely from the trees in their orchard and like all of their ciders (my favourite being the Kingston Black) it has a whole lot of attitude!