Monday, 13 July 2015

321 Cider - 2013 Traditional Still

I was having lunch with a respected Sydney wine distributor the other day, and we got onto the topic of cider. He mentioned how much of a hard sell still cider is out in the market. He contained to explain that no one really wants it as it's not the style punters are looking for. I really found this interesting, as Australia is built on such a robust wine culture in the restaurant scene. A still done correctly can arguably match and mimic an Australian white wine in my eyes. But it's the scope of the cider industry which is built upon Aussie moderns which the punters are looking for. So the poor old still gets the shaft. God help me if I heard someone say "Where's the sugar and why is there no bubbles in this?". But I can think of several Australian brands who's stills are fantastic and so utterly enjoyable. It's always such a refreshing change to tackle a good quality still. as opposed to a artificially carbonated, sweet modern dessert cider. Wish other people thought like that..... 

Now this leads me to a new producer 321 Cider, out of Learmonth in central Victoria. Their home page on the website which reads like this:

"We are a family owned boutique cider company located in Learmonth, Victoria.
Our Cider Apples are grown on the family farm, then hand-picked to be lovingly crafted into a traditional style of cider. Our Cider is made from REAL apples of TRADITIONAL cider varieties, producing beautiful complex flavours in our cider. We hope you enjoy our cider as much as we enjoy making it! Cheers!"

Oh dear god! My language!! Just reading those words gets me excited. These are the producers I want on my website. Honest, real cider artisans using real fruit with respect. Boom!These are the types of producers which keep the cider fire inside burning. Cider has been made at 321 for sometime, with over 1000 cider fruit trees being organically grown and attended to on their Spring Vale Farm in Victoria. Over 20 different varieties are grown including Michelin, Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black and Browns. They produce a Traditional Still bottled under screw cap in 375mL bottles. This cider has won awards at the Australian Cider Awards and Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards, so it has pedigree. Very traditional labels too which remind me of a cider out of the depths of Herefordshire. Love it. Now to the cider!     

It’s always an interesting feeling opening up a cider and hearing no “schhhhhhh” from the fizz being released. You’re immediate reaction is “is it flat?? Oh bugger!”  On opening the 321 Traditional Still, it weirdly felt like I was opening up a fine Riesling or something. Pouring into the glass, there was no volcanic eruption of CO2, just a gorgeous subdued bright yellow straw liquid. You know it’s going to be a handy cider when you can smell the aromatics immediately on pouring.

The nose shows delicate stone fruits, with musk and heavy hits of floral sweetness. Stone fruits you say?  Well you get the whole spectrum here. Honey dew, rock melon, nectarines and peaches. A plethora of rich vibrant characters. The cider fruit is really singing being so open and generous. As wanky as it sounds, the nose reminds me of spring time. You know the whole blossoms in an orchard kind of way….. Shows you carbonation is not needed to lift the fruit sometimes. Green tinges on the edges and you have one clean and crisp nose.

On tasting, this cider is very ‘wine like’ in structure. It almost reminds me of a young fresh Viognier. A clean and crisp linear backbone adds balances with just a cat’s whisker of fruit sweetness. Some confectionary and nectar flavours are soft and inviting along with some developed toasty characters. The flavour does wash out towards the end, leading into a phenolic and dry finish. Perhaps the carbonation would have helped here? But to be honest, the palate weight holds up well without the continual bombardment of bubbles and foam. In the end you have a focused and straightforward mouth feel here, but a damn decent still cider none the less

This 321 Traditional still confirms that’s there are some smashingly tidy still’s being made in Australia. Just the pure fact these producers are double crossing the norm of ultra-fizzy, sweet Aussie moderns is great. I think wine drinkers would really appreciate this too. In the end, a simple cider but flavoursome, refreshing and a killer with food. What more do you want? Go fetch me some oysters!!!
(I will be reviewing 321 Cider’s Methode Traditionelle in the coming week, so stay tuned for that!)

Producer: 321 Cider
Style: Still (Dry)
Country: Australia (Learmonth, Victoria)
Alcohol: 7.4%

Rating: 16/20


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