Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Gwatkin - Medium Farmhouse Yarlington Mill

It’s not every day you can say you get to relive something off your cider bucket list. By this I mean I got the opportunity to taste another of the Gwatkin's wonder creations from Herefordshire, England. If you can remember, I recently reviewed their single varietal Kingston Black. The cider blew my socks off with its character and complexity. Here’s a snippet of the introduction.
“There are things in life which can really get you excited. It gets the juices flowing, and consistently ‘boils your potato’. But to get overwhelmed, humbled and giggling like a school kid can most often be rare. So when the opportunity to taste and review cider from Herefordshire producer, Gwatkin arose, I definitely experienced one of ‘those’ moments. The thought of tasting the traditional farmhouse ciders of Gwatkin made me nervous. I couldn’t help thinking, what happens if I am disappointed? Would I get down on my knees, with my arms raised and fists clenched yelling “WHY!!!!!” towards the heavens?  But at the risk of sounding like a true cider dork, I see the Gwatkin ciders as real, custodian cider”. 

The single varietal dry farmhouse Kingston Black cider set the bench mark really high for me. I got to taste the Gwatkin's philosophy first hand. Personally, this was unbelievably special as Australian cider lovers don’t have access to this type of real cider. Along with the Kingston Black, I also recently got the opportunity to taste their Medium Farmhouse Yarlington Mill cider. Yarlington Mill you say??.....well.
The bittersweet Yarlington Mill, characterised by its yellow colour, pinkish blush and red stripes, is one of the most commonly planted cider apple across the world. The apple variety was discovered in 1898 in the wall of a water mill in Yarlington, Somerset. Outside the UK, the variety has widespread popularity with large plantings in New England and the Pacific Northwest of America, Quebec in Canada, and Victoria and Tasmania in Australia. The success of Yarlington Mill can be linked to its ability to adapt to surrounding conditions, and be a reliable and productive bearer (although fireblight is its arch enemy!). It's later ripening in the UK, with picking tending to be around late October to early November. The popularity amongst Cidermakers is due to the strong rich flavours the apple exhibits in single varietal ciders. Lower in acid and tannins are also a common Yarlington Mill trait.

The carbonation is light, and the colour is a beautiful golden tawny. The nose hits you with bucket loads of sweet candied apple, spice, honey, raisins and cedar. Some oxidised earthy, dusty old barnyard notes add an element of layering complexity. A small waft of VA lifts the nose, along with what seems to be a whisky barrel character. All in all, superior nose. Big, broad and rich singing with wild fermented Yarlington Mill fruit. Big tick!
On tasting, you can’t help go past the thick and moreish natural sweetness. Where do I start? Toffee, spice and vanillin oak all come at you, it’s like Christmas in a bottle. These flavours funnily enough mimic a Pommeau de Normandie. There’s so much weight, with a long length of flavour and rounded structure. Acid is not so pronounced, however some fine tannins added texture. A slight metallic note is evident on the back palate, most likely brettanomyces derived. Wild ferment at its glorious best! How can so much be going on in a cider??!! Unbelievable and crazy addictive.

This is some quality cider here. Beautifully made at the Gwatkin's farm, and the Yarlington Mill fruit kicks butt. Yes the cider is a little lower in acid and tannin, but that’s the variety at play. Drinking this makes me want to pack my bags and head over to England again but this time for a cider vintage/harvest! It makes you want to get your hands dirty in apple pomace, sip away at freshly pressed juice and fill old barrels. Fantastic cider, made by true Cidermakers. Here’s cheers Gwatkin's!!     

Producer: Gwatkin Cider Company Ltd
Country: England (Abbey Dore, Herefordshire)
Alcohol: 7.0%


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