When I decided to include tasting of the Kertelreiter Gelbmöstler 2021 in the recent episode of our Instagram Live “Not from concentrate” dedicated to perry (here is the link in case you’ve missed it), I didn’t know that this Gelbmöstler is the favourite perry pear variety of the perrymaker, Barry Masterson at Kertelreiter Cider. I just wanted to pay tribute to a person who is very much engaged in saving, preserving rare and endangered perry pears from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the UK and for this reason started the International Perry Pear Project.
Gelbmöstler is an old perry pear variety that most probably originated in the 18th centurxy in the St. Gallen region of Switzerland. It is characterised by its spicy notes, aroma of honeydew melon and low astringency. The Kertelereiter Gelbmöstler 2021 is a single-varietal perry made with this perry pear variety.
Company:Kertelreiter Cider Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany Pears: Gelbmöstler Sweetness as per label: dry ABV: 6,5 % Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler
Appearance: pours an almost clear pale yellow with a small foam that reduces to a ring that quickly dissipates. Low and natural carbonation. Body is medium.
Aroma/Nose: the scent is strong and fruity with notes of caramel, honeydew melon, ripe pear, some spiciness along with floral notes but also a hint of sulphur when it warms up.
Taste: it starts dry with just a touch of residual sweetness and a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, fruity notes of lychee, ripe pear, almost no astringency. Finishes dry with a lemony taste and a note of honey dew and some bubble gum leaving some creaminess.
Overall: It is challenging to make a perry without faults but Barry clearly mastered that skill. The Kertelreiter Gelbmöstler 2021 is a very well made and aromatic perry that will please everyone’s palate as it’s not entirely dry, has a gentle acidity, only a touch of tannin and is full of fruity aromas. As it warmed up even further notes came to shine making this perry even more complex. Also, I really enjoyed the spicy note to it as it rounded up the taste and contributed to the overall experience. As for food pairing, Barry suggested Mexican food and after giving it some thought I second this idea. Goat cheese would be another pairing idea. Since there will be no Gelbmöstler 2022, grab a bottle of the Gelbmöstler 2021 while you can. 5/6
Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!
Today’s cider review is about an apple wine that was one of my personal highlights of CiderWorld’23 in Frankfurt, the most important cider event in this part of Europe (here is the recap in case you haven’t read it yet), the Obstbau Ciampa Mucksch’ter Gold Spätlese vom Altrain 2022. To be completely honest with you, I haven’t heard of Obstbau Ciampa before and when I approached their booth at CiderWorld I didn’t expect anything spectacular, just another Apfelwein producer from Hessen. Oh man, how wrong I was! After I tried their Mucksch’ter Gold Spätlese vom Altrain 2022, which received Gold in the still cider Category at CiderWorldAward’23, I was completely buffed. Then I sampled their Croncels 2022 and again fell in love…
But who is Obstbau Ciampa? Obstbau Ciampa is made up by Angelo and Martin and is based in Florstadt, Hessen, the capitol of Apfelwein. For their Mucksch’ter Gold Spätlese vom Altrain 2022 they used late apple varieties such as Bohnapfel, Trierer Weinapfel and Brettacher from a meadow orchard located in “Am Altrain”. Some of their apple trees are over 100 years old.
Company:Obstbau Ciampa Place of Origin: Florstadt, Hessen, Germany Apples: a blend of mainly Bohnapfel, Trierer Weinapfel, Brettacher ABV: 6% Package type: 1L clear glass bottle with screw cap Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler
Appearance: pours a hazy pale amber with an orange hue with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.
Aroma/Nose: the scent is moderately strong but rich with notes of dried apricot. pepper, red apple, cherry, apple stem, leather and a hint of sulphur and funk.
Taste: my first taste is medium sweet with a low to medium acidity of lemon and lemon zest. On the mid-palate, some smokiness, dried apricot, lemon zest, red apple, touch of bitterness and low to medium astringency. Finishes dry with an aroma of red apple, red apple peel and caramel.
Overall: The Obstbau Ciampa Mucksch’ter Gold Spätlese vom Altrain 2022 tasted exactly as I remembered it from CiderWorld’23 in Frankfurt, perfectly balanced with a lovely sweetness counteracting excessive acid, naturally occurring in these apple varieties (especially Trier Weinapfel). It had a very rich array of flavours both on the nose and on the palate. Although it has to be said the nose wasn’t that strong and I would describe it rather as rustic. The taste was long-lasting with fruity flavours coming up after a while and contributing to overall complexity of the Obstbau Ciampa Mucksch’ter Gold Spätlese vom Altrain 2022. Since it was not dry like a typical Apfelwein from Hessen would be and not that acidic, I had the impression that I’m having a sort of an English cider, a “high end” and really complex scrumpy. Having this cider was to me a pure heaven indeed. It would have been simply perfect if not the moderate aroma on the nose. Will other like it? I think so as the sweetness makes it palatable to a broader audience, and the acidity is there but not disturbing (unless one would have a sensitive stomach). This is a cider I imagine drinking every day after work to relax and enjoy. I really need more of that. I summary, a great debut cider from Obstbau Ciampa! I look forward to trying more from their lineup and I see a bright future for Angelo and Martin. A must try! 5.5/6
Cydr Smykan, established in 2011, is one of the first Polish craft cider makers. Although in the beginning Slowflow Group consisted of four persons, today it is made up of only Łukasz Sobór. Based in Beskid Wyspowy, a mountainous area in southern Poland, Łukasz has access to numerous old and untreated apple orchards. If you try searching for craft cider in Poland, sooner or later you will come across one of his cider offerings.
During Cydr i Miod nad Odra, a cider festival in Wroclaw that I attended earlier this year, Lukasz passed me a bottle of his newest release and a new addition to the portfolio, Wyspowa Antonówka 2022. Antonówka is an old Russian apple variety that is widely spread in Poland. It is characterised by a rather high acidity, firm flesh and high minerality. It has a distinctive taste that is difficult to confuse with any other apple variety. Since Antonovka is acid-led, it is not an easy variety for a single-varietal cider. In the past, I tried several Polish ciders made from this apple variety but until now, only one cider maker managed to harness Antonovka, namely Cydr Radosny (for my review click here). Will Slowflow Group with their Cydr Smykan Wyspowa Antonówka 2022 be the next one? There is only one way to find out!
Company:Slowflow Group Place of Origin: Poland Apples: Antonovka Sweetness as per label: dry ABV: 6% Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler
Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy golden yellow with a foam that reduces to a tiny ring. Carbonation is moderate. Body is low to medium.
Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong with a note of funk, flesh of yellow apple, green apple skin and some sulphur.
Taste: my first taste is dry with moderate acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, faint note of yellow apple, green apple, some minerality, unripe green apple and highly watery. Finishes dry with a lingering and refreshing note of lemon and unripe apple .
Overall: I really don’t know where to begin. But let me say that I’m actually dissapointed with the Cydr Smykan Wyspowa Antonówka 2022. Like really, really dissapointed. Especially that I tried this cider at Cydr i Miod nad Odra in Wroclaw on tap and I liked it at the time. In case of the bottled cider that I’m reviewing right now, the nose was similarly strong and despite its funkiness promised a rather pleasant experience also on the palate. But, unfortunately, it’s not exactly the case. The Cydr Smykan Wyspowa Antonówka 2022 lacks body, tastes watery and is not rich in terms of flavours. It’s almost like drinking a naturally flavoured water. You can tell that it is made with Antonovka as it has its typical flavours for this apple variety but the aromas are some how diluted. I can’t say that Cydr Smykan Wyspowa Antonówka 2022 is not drinkable as there is nothing unpleasant to it but there is no excitement to it either. On the other hand, many will appreciate the rather low acidity, which again is unusual for this apple variety. Since that can come as a surprise, it might lead to a positive feedback. But from my perspective, I’m afraid that I have to be brutal and say that I haven’t had such a shallow cider for a long time now. Admittedly, another cider of Łukasz, the Cydr Smykan Grochówka 2020 is one of my favourite everyday ciders when I visit my parents in Poland but with Wyspowa Antonówka 2022 Łukasz didn’t manage to reach the same level. Łukasz, you can do better! 3/6
Availability: for now only in Poland -click here for the full list of stockists.
Apple Blood Cider is an Italian cider producer coming from the north of Italy, based in Terre d’Adige, Trentino, South Tirol, Italy. It is made up by three guys Francesco, Federico and Davide. As almost every cider producer, they were connected by their love for cider.
At CiderWorld’23 in Frankfurt (here is my visit recap), I met Federico, who it was easy to tell was full of passion for cider. Federico passed to me a bottle of their Sidera Brut 2019. It is a blend of two dessert apple varieties Pinova and Granny Smith grown organically in their orchards, which after pressing where fermented in steel tanks using cultured yeast. After the primary fermentation, Sidera Brut was bottled, matured 12 month on its lees and degorged. This is my first time sampling anything from this cider maker.
And, the word “sidera” is Latin for stars. Cider is called “sidro” in Italian.
Company:Apple Blood Cider Place of Origin: Terre d’Adige, Trentino, South Tirol, Italy Apples: a blend of Pinova and Granny Smith grown organically Sweetness as per label: brut ABV: 8% Package type: 750ml green glass bottle, corked and wired Recommended type of glass: flute
Appearance: pours a clear pale golden yellow with a huge and beautiful mousse that slowly dissipates. High carbonation. Body is medium and creamy.
Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong, clear and fruity with notes of green apple, lemon, a note of champagne. In the background, distant notes of herbs, lees, brioche and wood.
Taste: my first taste is slightly sweet with a very low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, it’s creamy, with notes of green apple, apple stems, dessert apples, and some minerality. Finishes dry with a lingering and refreshing note of green apple, skin of green and red apple along with distant notes of lees.
Overall: I keep repeating that dessert apples might not be the best apple varieties for cider making but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make a complex cider using dessert apples. For their Sidera Brut 2019, Apple Blood Cider used at least two techniques that increase complexity, namely aging on its lees and high carbonation. I suppose using several cultured yeast might have helped as well. The end result? The Apple Blood Sidera Brut 2019 is a light offering expressing a broad spectrum of fruity flavours. Aging on the lees improved the texture making it beautifully creamy so it doesn’t taste watery at all. And the note of dessert apples that I’ personally not a big fan of, is not disturbing at all as there is a number of other pleasant appley flavours. In a blind-tasting, I don’t think I could say whether it is a sparkling wine or cider. Perhaps the note of dessert apples and low ABV in comparison to sparkling wine, could give me a hint that this product is made from apples. For this reason, I think that the Apple Blood Sidera Brut 2019 could be an elegant offering suitable for every palate. Also because it’s not bone dry and the acidity level is also not high at all. When it warmed up, it obviously lost it’s appeal but doesn’t the same happen to a sparkling wine? I had a lot of fun having the Apple Blood Sidera Brut 2019 and can imagine popping this bottle at New Year’s Eve. Salute! 4.5/6
When I looked at the agenda of CiderWorld’23 sent to me in April by Christine Isensee-Kiesau, who organises CiderWorld together with Michael Stöckl, I already knew it was going to be special. And, even more exciting than last year or than expo’s that took place before Corona. There were so many interesting agenda items planned for over three days -all related to cider that I felt excited and proud that I could participate in CiderWorld’23. But let’s briefly introduce CiderWorld first in case you’ve never heard of this cider event before. CiderWorld is an international cider fair along with a cider competition and, the most important one in this part of Europe, taking place in Frankfurt, Germany launched in 2008 as Apfelwein International. Here is how each day of CiderWorld’23 looked like from my perspective.
Day 1 – CiderWorld’23 Award – Thursday
The first day of CiderWorld is always about tasting and evaluating cider and other related beverages in a blinded tasting. All information that the judges get to know about the entered products are the category, in which a beverage was entered, country of origin, level of ABV, residual sugar and sometimes production method (method ancestral, keeved, etc.), used apple varieties or other ingredients such as hops or other fruits. Products can be entered in one of the following 7 categories, Still (Cider/Perry), Sparkling (Cider/Perry), Mixed & Flavoured (Hopped, co-ferments, etc.), Dessert & Fortified (ice cider, dessert wine), Non-alcoholic cider and Spirit (pommeau). This year, the breakdown of categories was amended so perries and ciders were assesses in the category Still or Sparkling. In contrast to CiderWorld’Award’22, perry was assessed in the same category as e.g. hopped cider. Similarly to previous edition, the judging panel gathered at Zum Lahmen Esel, a typical Apfelwein restaurant in Frankfurt to assess entered ciders and select the best ones. Each cider could get up to max. 120 points. Depending on the number of received points, cider gets either Gold, Silver or Honor just like described in the picture below.
This year 170 products from 20 countries and 3 continents were entered. My judging panel, which consisted of three judges Haritz Rodriguez (Ciderlands), Joxe Mari Alberro (Sagadoaren Lurraldea) with me being the chair, was suppose to review 22 products. I guess we were a group that not only evaluated but also appreciated sampled ciders and for this reason it took us a bit longer than other judging panels to assess, submit points and comments into the judging tool. Thanks to Haritz and Joxe, both from the Basque Country I could take a deep dive into the world of Basque sagardoa but also to Asturian sidra. And, taking my Spanish lessons finally paid off as we communicated during judging in Spanish. My Spanish cider vocabulary improved immensely. Apart from Michael, Christine and the very friendly and supportive staff, there was also Gabe Cook, Ciderologist himself who would moderate and bring to you new samples within literally a couple of minutes. Upon request of Gabe, whenever a cider or perry received Gold, one would gently hit the glass with a pen or whatever was available at hand so everyone would know that a product won Gold. I must say that it lifted even more already a wonderful and lovely atmosphere during the tasting exercise. My judging panel was not very generous in terms of Golds as among I think 18 ciders we gave only three Golds. To our defence, I have to stress that these awarded products were truly exceptional. Overall, Haritz, Joxe and me were very aligned and we had a similar opinion on the quality and taste of entered ciders. Most of them were very correct, without any faults but in a way not outstanding and thus easily forgettable. But those three Golds were really fantastic! Overall, I had the impression that there were significantly more cider experts in the jury than in previous years and the profile of ciders they had to evaluate and sample where in line with their expertise. Great to see this adjustment! Maybe Michael and Christine read my visit recap from last year, where I touched this topic- see here?
After the jury tasting, in the evening the members of the jury panel were invited to a dinner at a restaurant Daheim in der Affentor Schänke serving traditional Frankfurt cuisine. Briefly, the combination of delicious food, local Apfelwein that paired well with the served dishes and the company of like-minded people was the best end of the first day of CiderWorld.
Day 2 – Announcement of the winners of CiderWorldAward’23 & Visit to Kelterei Possmann. Friday.
Friday begun with the announcement of the winners of CiderWorldAward’23 moderated by Gabe Cook. If you had a chance to read Gabe’s book Ciderology, you may be familiar with his wit and gift of talking about cider in an entertaining and highly interesting way. This is exactly how Gabe was while moderating CiderWorldAward’23 and inviting the winners to the stage. For the full list of winners of CiderWorld Award’23 click here. Edu Coto received a special award for his engagement in making world a better cider place.
The next agenda item of CiderWorld scheduled for Friday was a visit to the largest Apfelwein producer in Germany, Kelterei Possmann. Two busses took jury members, cider makers and other cider professionals to the Frankfurt neighborhood of Rödelheim, where the production site of Kelterei Possmann is located. We were welcomed by the 5th generation cider maker and owner, Peter Possmann and so the guided tour could begin. Kelterei Possmann was set up in 1881 by Philipp Possmann and has some turbulent times behind. The most interesting fact that I wasn’t aware of is that in 1938 the Nazi government forbid making Apfelwein so the family Possmann could only press apple juice. After the World War II, all the tanks were destroyed and the steel along with other metals were scarce. So Werner Possmann, came up with an idea of using submarines (obviously made of steel) and turning them into tanks (container for holding Apfelwein, not the military vehicle). As crazy as it sounds, it turned out to be a brilliant idea. Each of the tanks fit 40.000 liters and is still in use until today. As for numbers, between 8 to 10 mln liters of apple juice are processed here. The Apfelwein-making process is smartly designed to press astonishing 15 tons of apples per hour and obtain 250k liters per day. Apples are being delivered usually from the radius of 200km but if there is bad harvest, they would use apples from the north of Germany or from the north of Italy. I think this is the first time I visited such a huge Apfelwein/cider producer and I was really impressed with everything being big, more efficient and that everything came in thousands or millions. However, I just wonder how they make a living if a 1L-bottle of their Apfelwein purchased from the supermarket in Germany costs around 2 EUR. I guess the quantity makes it. Anyhow, if you happen to be planning a visit Frankfurt, make sure to include Kelterei Possmann into your visit itinerary. It’s so worth it!
The next item on the agenda was a sightseeing tour of the Frankfurt’s old town with Michael Stöckl, the organisor of CiderWorld. As we wandered through the old town, Hauptwache and Römer, Michael shared with us some interesting facts about the history of Frankfurt. The sightseeing ended in Sachsenhausen, the Apfelwein area of Frankfurt, where a get together for judges, cider makers exhibiting the next day and friends took place. This was another networking opportunity for cider people where you could also drink as always fantastic ciders made by Jens Becker (Apfelweinhandlung)or sample ciders brought by participating cider makers. Naturally, a visit to the famous cider celler of Frank Winkler at Daheim im Lorsbacher Thal with his selection of nearly 300 different ciders from 28 countries and four continents could not be missed. Frank’s restaurant has the largest selection of ciders.
During that evening, I had a very interesting discussions with Patrik at Pomologik, Justine at La Maison Ferre and Federico at Appleblood Cider about problems cider are facing in their countries and regions. In Sweden, you have to fight the big alco-pop brands who built the market from scratch, while in Normandy, where apparently everyone makes cidre, requesting more than 3.5 EUR per 75cl bottle is out of question as no one would buy it. In Italy, cider is not considered wine yet and although the craft beer scene is growing strongly, cider is still somewhere there in the limbo. And, natural wine scene apparently doesn’t exist there. It will take a lot of effort, smart strategy and time to change these mindsets but it doesn’t mean that this is impossible.
Day 3 – CiderWorld’23 Expo. Saturday.
Just like last year, the Expo was scheduled for one day only instead of two as it was the case before Corona. Traders or jury members could enter the Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten already at 12pm, while all other visitors could enter from 2pm onwards and sample cider until 6pm. Hence, again, I had only 6hrs to sample ciders that I haven’t explored before or tried within the last two days. And, again I failed to visit all cider makers. Although I prepared a list of top priority ciders to try (mostly those that won Silver or Gold) I didn’t accomplish my mission. Again I failed to visit most booths offering German Apfelwein or cider. And, paid just a brief visit to the Spanish booths located this time in the gallery. I wonder how the regular visitors who are not familiar with most cider makers can visit all cider stands during their 4 hour-visit. I really hope that the 2 day expo will return as 6hrs is not fair towards so many cider makers who came to Frankfurt from as far as Slovenia or Norway to the event.
Best Cider Discoveries of CiderWorld’23
Now the most exciting part for most of you! The best cider highlights of CiderWorld’23! As already mentioned above, I missed sampling products of many cider producers. Therefore, the section about the highlights of CiderWorld’23 is surely incomplete. Please bear with me.
Cider makers and ciders are mentioned in alphabetical order.
Apfeltau– Christian and Philipp from Hanau, Hesse, Germany are I think the only apple jack producers in Europe (apple jack is obtained by freezing apple wine and draining the liquid that didn’t freeze). Although, I reviewed several products from their portfolio before – Der Milde 2021, Der Saure 2021, Der Liebliche 2021, for CiderWorld’ 23 they released their new apple jack, Fusion, a blend of several Apfelweins. It had a great balance of sweetness and acidity and thus was highly drinkable despite the high ABV of 21%. A review of Fusion will be published soon. Also, Christian fixed me a cocktail using one of the apple jacks with tonic and ice. I thought it was brilliant! It proves that cider or cider-related products can really be versatile.
Appleblood Cider– is an Italian cider maker from the Trentino region of South Tirol represented by a very friendly Federico. It was my first encounter ever with the products of Appleblood Cider although I follow them on Instagram. And, I was amazed what they can do with dessert apples. Since Federico passed me a bottle of their Sidera Brut 2019, I will post the cider review soon so stay tuned!
Böhm’s Ciderwerkstatt–Manfred Böhm is the cidermaker behind Böhm Ciderwerkstatt. Manfred is based in Baden-Wüttenberg and I had a pleasure to sample Manfred’s cider even before he went professional. At the time, I thought his products were very tasty and you could tell that Manfred has it’s own style. Last year, Manfred attended CiderWorld as visitor but this time, and for the first time he participated as Exhibitor to present his new ciders. It is a shame that he didn’t enter any of his ciders to CiderWorldAward as I’m sure he would get Gold. I’m referring to the Jung Cider 2022 Ochsenthal. This cider had a very strong and lovely aroma of freshly pressed apples and despite the high level of sweetness, I thought it was mind-blowing. I kept sending others to try ciders made by Manfred, and everyone was perplex how good Manfred’s ciders can be.
Kystin– Sascha comes originally from Normandy but his business is based in Brittany. Kystin is famous for aging cidre in chestnut barrels which adds a lovely chestnut flavour to cidre and contributes enormously to the complexity. I remember trying their cidre during one of the previous CiderWorld’s and at Joran Cidrotheque, a cider bar in Brussels. This time, I sampled several products of Kystin. And, I thought they were all spectacular but the Ble Noir Torrefie, a cidre made with buckwheat was the clear winner for me. Buckwheat contributed to the overall complexity without covering the apple character. A one of a kind offering that I will review on my blog soon.
Malner Cider– who’d ever thought they make cider in Slovenia? Malner Cider is made up by a brother and sister Maja and Boštjan Pečar, who make cider from locally grown dessert apples. Their cider won Honour at this year’s CiderWorldAward’23 and I thought it was really a properly made cider with a very strong aroma of dessert apple. I keep fingers crossed for their next products as you can clearly see that they have a potential to make fantastic stuff. And, from what I saw, their cider received a very positive feedback from the audience during this event .
Obstbau Ciampa– Angelo and Martin are based in Hesse and actually this is the first time I have ever heard of them. They entered their Spätlese von Altrain to CiderWorld Award’23 and won Gold. I was sceptical at first as traditional Frankfurter Apfelwein does not always seem appealing. But to my surprise, the Spätlese von Altrain rather reminded me of English scrumpy with a bit higher acidity than the English counterpart. I literally fell in love with this product and wasn’t surprised at all that it won Gold. Another their product, a singlevarietal Croncels (made with Transparent de Croncels) turned out to be even more appealing to my palate as it had lower level of residual sweetness and significantly more tannins. I hope Apfelweins of the guys from Obstbau Ciampa will be available soon near me as I thought both products were so good that I could drink them every day. What a joy!
Quinta de Moscadinha – Until two months ago, when I was invited to be a member of the jury panel of the Natural Cider International Competition in Madeira 2023. I didn’t even know that cider has been made in Madeira, Portugal for 500 yrs now! And, at CiderWorld’23 was the first time I was actually sampling a cider coming from Madeira! Quinta de Moscadinha was established in 1910 and their cider is aged in Madeira wine barrels. Needless to say that I thought this offering was brilliant due to fruity notes and aromas coming from aging in barrels. A really unique offering with an unforgettable taste. Looks that Madeira cider is a hidden gem! Unfortunately, Quinta de Moscadinha. didn’t have a booth this year but their products were available in the Spotlight zone (for cidermakers who entered a product but couldn’t participate physically in CiderWorld’23).
Stahringer Streuobstmosterei from Germany, close to Lake Constance is a family business that received Gold for their Birnoh, a pommeu-type product but made with pear brandy and pear juice instead of cidre and apple juice. If I remember correctly, they Birnoh aged 5 years in an oak barrel. Imagine how much patience they have to have! Indeed, one of a kind product with lovely fruitc flavours of pear, smooth tannins and a touch of barrel-aging. And, Birnoh can also be used as a base for cocktails.
Lastly, I would like to give a shout out to a producer who won Gold in the category Non-Alcoholic, Obstparadies Manufaktur with their Paradies-Prockler Apfel-Mostbirne-Eberesche. As I found out later, my jury panel gave Gold to them. Their product was lovely fruity, complex with strong and delicious aromas. I didn’t make it to their booth but they deserve to be mentioned here.
If you belong to the cider makers who I, unfortunately, didn’t visit at CiderWorld’23 and feel neglected, feel free to reach out to me. I’m happy to review your cider, perry or any other beverage made with fruits.
CiderWorld in Frankfurt, Germany has been the most anticipated cider trade show for me since I participated in CiderWorld and in the CiderWorld Award for the first time in 2018. Why do I always count down the days until CiderWorld? Not only because it is a great chance to sample cider from new cider makers, new vintages of ciders or new releases. There is much more to that. This is also about networking with people who share a passion for cider, catch up with old cider friends (Tom Oliver-the man does no need any introduction; Gabe Cook – The Ciderologist; Darlene Hayes – Allintocider; Edu Coto -Cider Guerilla; Manfred Böhm – Böhm Ciderwerkstatt, Sebastian – Cider Journey, Frank Winkler –Daheim im Lorsbacher Thal, Haritz Rodriguez – Ciderlands; Magdalena Eger – Floribunda; Pet Elderton – Cider House; Jens Becker –Apfelweinhandlung; Christoph Walter- Bembel uff Tour; Florian Profitlich at Gutshof Kraatz, Phil Kennedy – CiderCask) and finally being able to meet those who I only exchanged messages before (Alistair – Cider is Wine; Barry at Kertelereiter, or Christian at Apfeltau). To give a taste how CiderWorld looked like in previous years, please refer to my recaps from last visits to CiderWorld’18, CiderWorld’19 and CiderWorld’22 And, of CiderWorld’21 Award.
We all know that Corona had a destroying impact on interpersonal contacts but judging from the this year’s participants of CiderWorld and the number of visitors I have a feeling that it is slowly getting back to normal (almost). Although this year there were plenty of networking occasions, many more than last year, I have a feeling that I could stay at least one day longer and exchange about cider, cidermaking and try a few more ciders. During these three days of CiderWorld I could see literally that time flies as I couldn’t speak with everyone I planned to or try cider I was hoping to finally get taste of.
In summary, I simply love CiderWorld. Meeting old and new friends, watching the cider scene grow, how cidermakers improve over the time like Manfred Böhm, seeing new cider makers being established – Obstbau Ciampa also from non-classical cider countries such as Slovenia, discussing about perry pears and Kveik yeast with Barry Masterson, learning about the problems each of the cider makers is facing in their own country and sampling new ciders this all always make me feel alive and help me look positive in the cider future despite so many challenges. Thank you Michael and Christine for organising CiderWorld’23! I already look forward to CiderWorld’24.
While you are reading this cider review, I’m sitting on a train and heading from Berlin to Frankfurt to participate in CiderWorld in Frankfurt, the most important cider event in this part of Europe. Yes, it’s this Saturday! And, apple wine I’m about to review is made by Florian Profitlich of Gutshof Kraatz based in Uckermark, Brandenburg, Germany, one of the participants of the upcoming CiderWorld.
For his apple wines, cider and perries Florian uses cultured yeast. With this measure, he wants to taste the fruit that his products are made with as I learned during our last Instagram live with Alistair of Cider is Wine, which concerned similarities and differences between cider and wine. Today, I’m reviewing his singlevarietal apple wine made with Reinette du Canada, a French apple variety first time described in Normandy in the 18th century.
Company:Gutshof Kraatz Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany Apples: Renette du Canada Sweetness as per label: brut ABV: 8,5% Package type: 750ml clear glass bottle with screw cap Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler
Appearance: pours an almost clear golden yellow with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.
Aroma/Nose: the scent is strong, rich and fruity with notes of peel of yellow apple and ripe flesh of yellow apple, pear, lemon peel, red fruit and a touch of quince and bubble gum.
Taste: it starts with some residual sweetness to it and a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, yellow apple, pineapple, pear and low astringency. Finishes dry with a note of alcohol, a touch of bitterness and a note of champagne.
Overall: Florian’s apple wines, ciders or perries have many faces. They are always rich, full of flavours and unique. This is also because Florian prefers to make singlevarietal ciders. As each apple variety is one of a kind so are Florian’s ciders. And, the Gutshof Kraatz Kanada Renette 2020 is not different in that sense. This is an easygoing, light and extremely fruity cider that should be to almost everyone’s liking. Although the ABV is rather higher of 8.5% it has some noticeable sweetness to it although I wouldn’t call it sweet at all. Also, the level of acidity is detectable but very gentle, which can be favorable for many consumers. On the palate it is fruity with a lovely note of yellow apple so you can actually taste the fruit it was made with just like Florian wanted it to taste. Although personally I thought it was a tad too sweet, I think the Gutshof Kraatz Kanada Renette 2020 will find many fans. As for food-pairing, I think it would go well with pork or creamy pasta dishes. 4.5/6
Potoki 2021 (it’s Polish for “runnels” or “small streams”) crafted by Tomasz and Ula at Cydrownia Zywer, a cider producer from Kańczuga, Subcarpathian, Poland is a cider, I’m actually sampling for the third time. The first time was in 2022 when Tomasz and Ula shared a bottle with me that I was supposed to review. In fact, I did review the Zywer Potoki 2021. But my tasting notes got lost as an app I had been using to store information about ciders (around 4000!) I’ve tried, stopped working after the latest iOS update. The second time was very recently at Cydr i Miod and Odra in Wroclaw, Poland (In case you’ve missed my visit recap -click here). And, this is where Ula and Tomek kindly passed to me a bottle to review Potoki 2021 again. So now it makes the third time that I’m sampling it.
Similarly to the previously reviewed ciders from the Cydrownia Zywer portfolio, Potoki 2021 is a blend of old apple varieties and wild apples coming from an untreated 80 year-old meadow orchard located in Subcarpathian, Poland. Potoki 2021 received Gold in the category still dry cider in the 12th international SISGA cider awards in Asturias, Spain.
Company:Cydrownia Zywer Place of Origin: Kańczuga, Subcarpathian, Poland Apples: a blend of old apple varieties grown locally Sweetness as per label: dry ABV: 6.1% Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler
Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy golden yellow without any foam. There are a few bubbles visible but I wouldn’t describe it as sparkling. Body is low to medium.
Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong, clear and fruity with notes of ripe yellow apple, lemon, quince, some green apple to it, apple stems and a note of champagne.
Taste: my first taste is dry with moderate to high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, ripe yellow apple, some minerality, only a touch of astringency, apple stems, quince and green apple. Finishes dry with a lingering and refreshing note of lemon peel and a just a touch of bitterness.
Overall: The Zywer Potoki 2021 is a good showcase that cider is wine. It promises a lot and you actually get what you are expecting also on the palate. Both on the nose and on the palate, Potoki 2021 has a beautiful clean profile with a refreshing and rich array of flavours. As a matter of fact, many could mistake this cider for a good quality chablis with the typical notes of lemon, yellow apple and minerality. Actually, now I regret that I didn’t select this cider for the next Insta Live “Not from Concentrate” where, together with Alistair of CiderisWine, we will be discussing similarities and differences between cider and wine (20.04.2023 8pm CET). In that sense, the Zywer Potoki 2021 is also different to many Polish ciders I’ve tried before as it has a goof complexity and length although it is still a rather light offering. Potoki 2021 and previously reviewed Pandzieju 2021 clearly show that Zywer are getting better every year and developing their own style. In moments like these I’m really proud to be Polish. Trust me, you want to try this wine…oupsss….cider. A really pleasant wine that would make a perfect combination with fish or oysters. Best of luck to Tomek and Ula 5/6
Availability: for now only in Poland -click here for the full list of stockists.
Making a good cider might be relatively easy if you have the skills, access to quality fruit and the right equipment. However, making perry due to the naturally high pH (low acid content) of the fruit and the difficulties with pressing the juice, turn out to be an art in itself. This is also the reason, why I rarely get to review any perries. And, if I get one it often comes from Barry Masterson, an Irish living in Germany running a small artisanal cidery based in Schefflenz in the south of Germany, Kertelreiter Cider.
With his Slipstream 2021, which is a blend of 80% late perry pear varieties and 20% Bittenfelder Sämling, an apple variety with an acidic taste, Barry is using apples to lower the pH and possibly add more flavours to the blend. That’s just my interpretation. Only 62 bottles of Slipstream were made. I’m having No. 16.
Company:Kertelreiter Cider Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany Ingredients: 80% late perry pear varieties and 20% Bittenfelder Sämling Sweetness as per label: dry ABV: 7.3% Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler
Appearance: pours an almost clear golden yellow and a small foam that reduces to a ring. Low and natural carbonation. Body is medium.
Aroma/Nose: the scent is moderately strong and fruity with notes of apple stems, wood, yellow apple, ripe pear and some gooseberry.
Taste: it begins surprisingly bone dry with a low to moderate acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, very high astringency, further down a note of lychee and ripe pear. Finishes with a note of red fruits, green apple and wood.
Overall: I haven’t tried a perry like this before. I was rather shocked by the level of astringency as it literally made me speechless by numbing my tongue. The high astringency had not only an impact on my speaking skills but also on the perceived flavours. It dominated the whole palate so all I could get was the tannin with a distant yellow apple and pear flavour. Interestingly, this perry was bone dry, while due to the sorbitol content in pears (unfermentable sugar), usually there is some low sweetness in perries. I guess it also contributed to the fact that it tasted a bit watery. Anyhow, I paired this perry with baked salmon, garlic and olive oil and I thought it was a really great match. Now, my heart is torn as I enjoy having the Kertelreiter Slipstream 2021 on one hand but on the other hand, there are not many flavours apart from the aforementioned astringency. And, it would be simply unfair towards other producers who crafted a richer product. Hence, although I enjoyed having the Kertelreiter Slipstream 2021 and I think it would taste great in the summer, I can’t give a higher rate than 3.5/6. Despite the low rating, I would buy this perry again and I think everyone should try it as this is a unique offering on the European market.
Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!
When you read a book concerning cider and new cider countries are being mentioned in there, most of the time you will find information about ciders from the US or Scandinavia but rarely about cider from Eastern Europe, Baltics or Balkans. And, I hope that with my blog and by reviewing ciders made in these regions, I can prove that a really good cider is also crafted in Latvia, Poland or Croatia. Despite my continuous efforts to promote cider from these new cider regions, they still don’t get enough attention and praise they actually deserve. Well, I’m not giving up on this mission.
For that and many other reasons, when I was invited to a cider festival Cydr i miód nad Odrą 2023 in Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland, I could not say no. I just jumped in my car and drove 350km from Berlin to Wrocław.
Cydr i miód nad Odrą literally means “cider and mead upon the Odra River” in Polish. As you may have rightly guessed, this festival covered both cider and mead. And, yes, Wroclaw is located upon the Odra River. A festival combining these two different types of alcohol may come as a surprise to you given the fact that these two alcoholic beverages don’t have that much in common. However, it is important to mention that both are rather niche products in Poland, a country where the craft beer scene has gained increasing popularity within the last decade. Hence, bringing together cider and mead lovers seemed like a reasonable idea to increase the attendance rate. The person who pulled all the strings to organise this one and only cider event in Poland is Agnieszka Wołczaska-Prasolik a.k.a Marusia. Although in Poland, Marusia is better known as a beer aficionado and can be considered the godmother of the Polish craft beer scene, she has recently developed an interest also in cider and mead. Re. the venue, this year’s edition of Cydr i miód was located on the 4th floor of the Concordia Design Building on the largest island od Śródmieście, Wyspa Słodowa. In a nutshell, the event was as centrally located as it gets with a breathtaking view overlooking Wroclaw (I forgot to take any photos as I was too focused on cider. How typical of me.). Cydr i miód took place on the 1st (Saturday) and the 2nd of April 2023 (Sunday). As for the exhibitors, there were no limitations re. country of origin of participating cider and mead makers, however only Polish cideries and meaderies registered for the event. Possibly next time cider makers from other countries will dare to present their cider to the Polish audience. Here is the full list of participating cider makers:
For the full list of participating mead makers click here.
Highlights of Cydr i miód nad Odrą 2023
In this section, I will highlight only the most interesting encounters with Polish cider and Polish cidermakers.
Cydr Radosny(Lower Silesia)-a newcomer! Mikołaj and Radek officially launched their first three ciders literally the day before Cydr i miód nad Odrą in a cider-friendly bar and pizza place in Wroclaw called FAM. I’ve been reviewing ciders and participating in numerous tastings of Cydr Radosny for a fair while now so I was really happy to see that they managed to wade through the regulatory nightmare, which is setting up a cidery in Poland, and to release their very first ciders! Since all three, Atak Jabłuszek, Spon-tan, Zielone Jabłuszka are all from the 2022 vintage, they are still pretty young. When I sampled them three weeks ago in a tasting, my favourite was Atak Jabłuszek, followed by Spon-tan and Zielone Jabłuszka. As a matter of fact, I advised the guys against bringing the latter to the cider festival as at that point in time it was still too raw and too funky. Guess what, three weeks later, the taste profile of all of them changed to the extent that my favourite cider suddenly became Zielone Jabłuszka, followed by Spon-tan and Atak Jabłuszek. This proves that cider is a living and fascinating product and depending on the moment you are drinking it, it may have a different taste profile. Anyhow, Zielone Jabłuszka is made with early apple varieties that are mostly green. I thought that it was nicely citrusy and refreshing with a lovely flavour of green apple and a touch of funkiness on the nose. Also, Cydr Radosny were selected by the audience of Cydr i Miód as the best cidery of the event. Congrats and best of luck!
Cydr Smykan(Lesser Poland) – Łukasz’s ciders have been on the Polish market for several years now. Often when I visit my family in Warsaw and I’m in need of cider, I go to a local craft beer store and buy a bottle of his Grochówka, a single-varietal cider made with Bohnapfel. Bohnapfel is by far my favourite apple variety in this part of Europe and the Smykan Grochówka is my favourite cider of Łukasz. This year, Lukasz released a new single-varietal cider made with an old and relatively widely spread apple variety in Poland, Antonovka. I tried this cider on tap and enjoyed its refreshing acidity typical for this apple variety along with a flavour of green apple. Since Lukasz passed me a bottle of this cider, I will post a review soon so watch this space.
ZULI Miodosytnia Warmińska (Warmian-Masurian)- before Cydr i Miod I haven’t even heard of this producer before- Jakub makes both cider and mead. Interestingly, for his ciders he uses apples that would otherwise go to waste along with Reinette grise and a small addition of honey. I must say I enjoyed their regular cider, hopped cider and cider with honey. I will post the reviews soon.
Cydrownia Zywer (Subcarpathia) – Tomek and Ula are a really sweet couple passionate about cider. They launched their first two ciders Brus and Foszt only in 2021. And, in 2022 added three more new ciders to their product portfolio, namely Potoki, PanDzieju and Panskie. Although I reviewed and enjoyed some of their ciders before, I was surprised to discover new notes in the aroma of PanDzieju. Now I liked this cider even more. That additional herbal note made this cider even more complex. A review of Potoki is coming soon!
Meeting with home cidermakers- Cydr i miód nad Odrą 2023.
Apart from cider itself, cider festivals tend to offer also several food catering options, an entertaining programme incl. cooking with cider and mead on stage along with commented cider and mead tastings. The entertaining programme of Cydr i miód nad Odrą 2023 covered these as well so I’m not going to bore you with writing about that. But what I would like to highlight here and this is something I haven’t experienced so far in other cider festivals was the possibility of sampling cider made by home cidermakers. Home cidermakers, meaning persons who are not on the market with their ciders yet, are in the exploratory or experimental phase, seek feedback from the audience, and are eager to exchange information with those who have more experience in cidermaking. There were in total I think 7 home cidermakers that registered for this meeting. As for the audience, everyone who was interested in trying a cider from home cidermakers was welcome to enter the tasting room. The level varied extremely between the participants. From barely drinkable, unfortunately, to really complex and delicious ciders. It was obvious that some take inspiration from craft beer by adding different ingredients, which of course is not bad as such, while others preferred to focus on ciders made only using fresh apple juice. Some made a strong tannic cider that only hardcores like me could enjoy (although with time the tannin can nicely smooth). There were ciders made from old-apple varieties or coming from old orchards but also with dessert apples. And, ciders made from freshly pressed apple juice or pasteurised apple juice from the bag-in-box. Some ciders had a strong note of vinegar or nail polish (which was not deliberate) but most ciders had a clear aroma or palate.
I would like to praise one cider maker in particular whose ciders really impressed me. If you ask me, his ciders are ready to hit the shelves. I’m referring to Paweł of Cydrownia nad Stawem from Masovian (that’s near Warsaw). He has access to an old meadow orchard and certainly has the skills to make a decent and complex cider. I’m not going to mention anyone else here as I don’t want to simply discourage anyone. This meeting was supposed to be a learning experience and by doing mistakes and getting feedback from others you can improve your next batches. In summary, I really enjoyed that meeting with home cidermakers. And, I would like to see such meetings on the agenda of other cider festivals.
Every time I go to an event dedicated to cider, I feel that I’m in my element. I had the same feeling after trying a couple of really decent Polish ciders and after leaving the premises of Concordia around midnight. Based on the ciders, I tried that day, I can tell that Polish cider is getting better and better in terms of quality and complexity and is ready to face international expansion. And, new cideries such as Cydrownia Zywer and Cydr Radosny raised the bar even higher now. I was glad to see such a significant improvement! Especially that behind these two cideries stand really passionate people.
Similarly to CiderWorld in Frankfurt that I have attended every year since 2018, I could connect with old colleagues such as Przemek Iwanek (Cydr Pełnia), cidermakers I only exchanged emails with until now (Tomek and Ula at Cydrownia Zywer) or completely new people who either share a passion for cider, look for feedback (home cidermakers, especially Paweł at Cydrownia nad Stawem ), wine specialists who are interested in exploring the fascinating world of cider (Hania at Powinno), wish to promote it (Daniel at FAM and Marusia) or want to launch their first cider soon (Mikołaj at Pfeiffer’s Cider). It clearly shows that the Polish cider scene is strongly growing and you will hear more about it soon (not only from me). I hope these new acquaintances will possibly open new pathways for the further development of cider culture in Poland. I will never stop repeating that the best way to promote cider is to educate by giving a taste.
Lastly, many thanks to Marusia for organizing this fabulous event and bringing together cidermakers, ciderdrinkers and cider newbies along with their mead counterparts. I look forward to the 2024 edition of Cydr i miód nad Odrą! Na zdrowie!
If you want me to participate in and promote your cider event in Europe, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My first encounter with an alcoholic beverage made from apples was through a famous book by German writer Erich Maria Remarque called “Arch of Triumph”. Every time the protagonist Ravic would go to a bar, he would order a glass of calvados. This is how I learned about this apple brandy made in the Calvados region of Normandy. Only years later I discovered that apples can be used to craft other fantastic alcoholic beverages such as cider, apple jack or pommeau.
I have already given you a brief introduction to apple juck when I reviewed products of Apfeltau but I have never really focused much on pommeau. In a nutshell, pommeau is a blend of fresh cider apple juice and apple brandy aged in oak barrels. Pommeau de Normandie is required to contain three parts of fresh apple juice and one part of calvados with a minimum aging time of 14 months in oak barrels. Due to the apple juice content, pommeau is usually sweeter and lighter in terms of ABV than calvados.
Today’s review does not exactly concern a pommeau but an apple dessert wine in the style of pommeau crafted by Patrick and Wendy of 1785 Cider from Unterkirnach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Patrick and Wendy named their pommeau-like beverage Mistelle. In contrast to the traditional pommeau, they blend cider eau de vie with fresh apple juice. If you are familiar with 1785 Cider, you may know that they use only untreated fruit from old meadow orchards within a 25km radius of their premises.
I must stress that I’m really excited because I’m about to directly compare three different versions of Mistelle provided to me by 1785 Cider. Let me give you briefly give an overview of what is on the agenda today: Mistelle 2021 was aged for 12 months in glass carboys, Mistelle 2020 was oak-cask-aged for 12 months and Mistelle 2021 was also oak cask-aged for 12 months. As you may already see, I’m going to review two different vintages along with differently aged pommeau-like beverages. Note that none of the Mistelle’s is filtered. For easy reference, I compiled a table so you can understand the differences between all three versions of Mistelle – see the table below.
Apple dessert wine in the style of pommeau, aged in glass carboys for 12 months – 500ml
Apple dessert wine in the style of pommeau, aged in 100L oak cask for 12 months – 500ml
Apple dessert wine in the style of pommeau, in 100L oak cask for 12 months – 500ml
I hope it’s enough for the introduction, let’s proceed with the actual tasting of Mistelle.
pours a clear reddish orange. No carbonation. Body is high.
the nose is strong and fruity with notes of raisins soaked in rum, alcohol, dried peach, apple skin.
it begins sweet with a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, raisins soaked in rum, dried plum, plum powidl (marmelade), dried peach, low bitterness and touch of astringency. Finishes dry with a touch of alcohol, caramel, plum powidl and apple jam.
Fantastic- sweet at the beginning but nicely counterbalanced by the acidity and lovely plum powidl notes. I don’t mind the sweetness here as it helps to tackle the alcohol. Extremely rich in terms of flavours. The taste lingers on and on and new notes appear. I’m amazed. Marvelous! 5.5/6
pours a clear pale reddish brown. No carbonation. Body is high.
the nose is strong and fruity with notes of sherry, hazelnut with some acid-led apples and baked apples.
it begins sweet but sweeter than the glass-aged. Only a touch of acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, vanilla, dried apricot, apple jam and moderate astringency. Finishes dry with a touch of alcohol and toasted nut.
More syrupy, less acidic, completely different notes in comparison to the glass-aged Mistelle. Higher astringency. But somehow the notes are not that well integrated. Also, a tad lower acidity makes this beverage a bit tiring. Taste profile typical for oak-aging beverages. It’s good. 4.5/6
pours a clear pale amber. No carbonation. Body is high.
the nose is moderately strong and fruity with notes of geranium, dried peach, sandalwood and chestnut.
it begins sweet with a touch of acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, dried peach and linden honey. Finishes dry with a touch of linden honey, low bitterness.
In terms of sweetness and acidity, it is similar to Mistelle 2020/oak. Surprisingly, the cask-aging does not have that strong influence on the flavour as in the case of Mistelle 2020. Mistelle 2021/oak is fruitier than Mistelle/2020 but somehow I prefer the Mistelle 2020/oak. 4/6
Summary: I think I have to run such tastings more often as it is the best way to prove that beverages made from apples deserve the same attention and praise as those made from grapes. With three different versions of the 1785 Cider Mistelle, I could directly see how strong influence aging in oak barrels or glass carboys has, and that two vintages, although made using the same method, may have a completely different taste profile. This is exactly what I love about apples! As for Mistelle, just by looking at my pictures, you can tell that the appearance and by that I mean the colour varies in all three versions of Mistelle. Taste-wise, they also could not have been more different. While I expected a different taste profile between Mistelle aged in glass and oak cask, I was surprised to see that both oak cask-aged Mistelles from 2020 and 2021 differ in terms of aromas and taste as well. What was mutual for them was the higher level of sweetness and lower acidity compared to the glass-aged Mistelle. Actually, if I hadn’t known that Mistelle 2021 was barrel-aged, I would have never guessed it. While all Mistelle’s are really good and complex, my personal favourite was the glass-aged Mistelle. Well, I’m surprised myself as well, as I usually enjoy the notes coming from barrel-aging. Not this time, I guess. The Mistelle 2021 glass-aged had a lovely array of flavours that evolved as more notes came to shine. It had a long-lasting taste and a balanced ratio between sweetness and acidity. When I took the first sniff of it, my eyes widened and caused my face to make an “o” shape. I could resist and say Wow! To my taste, Mistelle 2021/glass was smoother and richer. Overall, Patrick and Wendy at 1785 Cider did a really great job with all three versions of Mistelle. Looks that a serious competition is rising for pommeau in Normandy. I would buy more.
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