1785 Cider Mistelle (tasting of three versions)

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.

NameVintageDescriptionABVResidual sugar
Mistelle/glass2021Apple dessert wine in the style of pommeau, aged in glass carboys for 12 months – 500ml18.4%92g/L
Mistelle/oak2020Apple dessert wine in the style of pommeau, aged in 100L oak cask for 12 months – 500ml18%n/a
Mistelle/oak2021Apple dessert wine in the style of pommeau, in 100L oak cask for 12 months – 500ml19%88g/L
I hope it’s enough for the introduction, let’s proceed with the actual tasting of Mistelle.
From left to right: Mistelle 2021/glass, Mistelle 2020/oak, Mistelle 2021/oak

Tasting notes:

Mistelle 2021/glasspours 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
Mistelle 2020/oakpours 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
Mistelle 2021/oakpours 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.

Availability: from their online shop. Also, click here for the list of vendors. In Amsterdam, locally and online from Appels & Peren.

Price: Patrick provided me with samples.