Weighing in at 8.5% and coming in a 500ml bottle this is a hefty cider (I've just drank a bottle and have canned the plans I had for going out this evening) but what makes it special is its sweetness. "There are so many sweeter ciders on the market, why should that make it special?" I hear you ask! Well, I've never tasted a cider with residual sugar that still remains 'serious'; with depth, complexity and intensity. In a lot of ways the cider reminds me of Canterbury Riesling - it has an amazing balance between sweetness, acidity and funk. Even the cider itself describes itself as "mildly offensive" before suggesting that, "you'll get over it."
The 2013 vintage is the first 'commercial' vintage of the product but there are reviews around for the small batch 2012 and 2011. The cider is pressed, then fermented and aged in old French oak to integrate but mainly because the producer, "was too slack to bottle the cider early, and the onset of the next harvest prompted [him] to clear the barrels." Bless. In 2013 the producer harvested several from several orchards (he is also cultivating his own, planted with heritage French and English varieties as well as cuttings from a 50 year old orchard) before pressing and fermenting them; keeping them separate until final blending, much in the same way wine is blended from grapes harvested and vinified from individual parcels.
The producer ages the cider in barrel as he believes that it smooths the tannins and acid of the cider, making it rounder and more complete. This is just such a beguiling drink because it is so complete: acid, sugar, tannin, fruit as well as the aforementioned corruption. Wow.
The flavour is of apple, obviously but it also has secondary characteristics: cooked apple, fermentation, smoke and decay. It is broad on the palate but focused, starting with a burst of fruit but with tannins giving length on the palate and acidity providing freshness. It is rich but balanced.
This will be an amazing cider to drink with food - just think of the same things that either Riesling or apple goes with: scallops, roast pork, duck (especially Cantonese roast duck), Szechuan dishes like mapo tofu but will also be lovely with sweeter (although not sweet) fare such as spiced apple cake and sharp English style cheeses.
In two words: Impure, polarizing.
Music Match: The Killing Type - Amanda Palmer (LOUD)
"I just can't explain how good it feels!"