Saturday, 7 February 2015

McLaren Vale Orchards - Apple Cider

Hello fellow cider geeks, lovers, nerds, enthusiasts! Happy 2015! After an extended break from All About Cider to pursue other cider related activities, I am back. Refreshed, more the wiser and keen to taste as much Cider, Cyder, Sider, Sidra, Sidro, Seidr and Apfelwein as possible. I am noticing more and more Australian cider brands pop up each month, so more for me to look at with a fine tooth coomb so to speak! Bring it on! So I am going to ease my way into it first up with a cheeky little cider made in my home state of South Australia, in the absolutely beautiful wine region of McLaren Vale. 
About a year or so ago, I received an email from a new craft cider producer in McLaren Vale, South Australia wanting me to take a look at their new product. They asked for any advice on improvements which could be applied to their first effort. I happily obliged and gave them some recommendations which I thought could bump up quality. I received an email months later asking if I wanted to try the new batch, with some of my recommendations supposedly put in place. Sadly on my part, the new batch arrived but was lost in my cider cellar (yes, I do have a cider cellar where I put surplus samples etc. from which I receive – more like museum stock). I recently came across it and had one of those “oh crap!” moments where I realised I had misplaced the sample. Well here I am today on a 40 degree day and tasting ciders, so thought it was a great opportunity to pen some notes.  

McLaren Vale Orchards are run by Mark and Lisa McCarthy, who grow an array of produce like avocados, cherries, stonefruit, grapes, apples and pears. From the information I received on the cider, it was made under guidance from Goodison Brewery and young McLaren Vale Winemaker Tom O’Donnell. The cider itself is made from 7 or so differing varieties including Royal Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths, Pink Lady, Lady Williams and Sundowner. Did someone day liquorice allsorts?? The apples are milled, and basket pressed with eight months time on lees – my kind of cider!! The finished cider is all wrapped up into a neatly presented, commercial styled cider filtered and forced carbed. It can be found at the Wayville, Willunga and Victor Harbor markets and well as their Orchards production house in McLaren Vale.
The colour gave off a nice deep straw colour with a light carbonation. Rich, ripe red apple flesh, and copious amounts of pineapple leaped out the glass. It seemed quite Huon Valley in stature and in intensity, so that was a big positive. Once the glass warmed up, more farmhouse notes of cheesy funk, fungus and earthiness crept through. Pure example of commercial meeting undertones of farmhouse.

The palate was very ‘time on lees’ dominant. Creamy textures rounded out the mouthfeel and made it quite soft. There was just a hint of sweetness, but essentially the cider finished dry with some mouth-watering acidity. The flavour did fall somewhat sort, leaving a gap in the mid palate. Kills me to say it, but perhaps a little more residual would have taken this cider to the next level. The higher 5.9 per cent alcohol was all in balance, and the lower carbonation was spot on.
So really a sound, simple little cider which shows small hints of complexity making it interesting and unique. It’s not a cider which is wall to wall apples and freshness, but the creaminess does add personality. I wish these guys well in their cider venture. By the way, the Barossa Valley makes better reds!!!  

Producer: McLaren Vale Orchards
Country: Australia (McLaren Vale, South Australia)
Alcohol: 5.9%

Rating: 12.5 out of 20

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