Piparkakuja Cidre Ledový Cider 2017

Today’s cider review will be very special. Special, because cider that is to be reviewed today has not been commercially launched yet (partly because of bureaucratic reasons). This Ledový cider (Czech for ice cider) was crafted by Petr Vacek from Prague with apples coming from an orchard based in Kamenice nad Lipou and Český Dub owned by his grandparents and grandparents of his wife. Since Petr prefers his cider on the sweeter side and he’s well familiar with the winemaking methods since he was nearly 5 years old (the advantages of living in a vineyard in the Czech Republic), he has started straight away three years ago with making ice cider. The name of Petr’s cider is ‘Piparkakuja’, which is supposed to mean a ‘gingerbread’ in Finnish.Company: Piparkakuja Cidre
Place of Origin: Prague, Czech Republic
Apples: unknown apple varieties from orchards in Kamenice nad Lipou and Český Dub
Sweetness as per label: 
ice cider
ABV:
7.5%
Package type: 
500ml amber glass bottle with flip top cap
Recommended type of glass: 
white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with a giant foam that only slowly dissipates. Medium carbonation. Body is high with a creamy texture.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very aromatic and has notes of oak, vanilla and strong alcohol. Also, light smokiness, baked apples and strong whisky notes with pears, fresh apples, caramelised apples and toffee.

Taste: the first sip is medium to strongly sweet with a high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, a strong note of alcohol followed by oakiness, notes of stems, baked apples, caramel, vanilla, caramelised apple, a touch of orange. Finishes with light medicinal notes, raisins, low astringency and light bitterness.

Overall: Petr’s ice cider is very aromatic with clear notes and aromas. It has an array of strong and delicious apple flavours. Every sip felt like an interesting journey. Also, the sweetness was nicely balanced by the high acidity. What I also loved were the strong oaky/woody notes (note: this cider wasn’t aged in oak at all!). Yet, the flavour of alcohol was very strong. Way too strong, overpowering other yummy flavours so I had a feeling I was drinking a whisky mixed with ice cider or at least a bit outbalanced ice cider with an ABV of 12%, not 7.5%. Personally, I liked it but I can imagine that not everyone will be a fan of this ice cider. Overall, Petr’s ice cider is unique in a way and could be an interesting offering if not the aggressive taste of alcohol. It has a great potential and will most probably find fans but I think it could be much better without the overpowering boozy taste. 4/6

Availability: not launched yet.

Price:  a sample of Piparkakuja Cidre Ledový Cider 2017 was provided by Petr.

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Fuente Guijarro Sidra del Sur Ancestral 2015

Who said that sidra can be made only in the North of Spain, in either the Basque Country or Asturias? Exactly, nobody. Manuel and Sara from Sidra del Sur make their sidra in the Cortijo Fuente Guijarro, which is located 2000 meters above sea level in the Sierra Nevada Natural Park in Andalucia, in the South of Spain. For their sidra, they use old apple varieties with a more acidic profile. Interestingly, to pick apples they use a mule since the paths are not accessible with regular vehicles. Also, their sidra production is organic without any interventions. I’ve discovered their sidra when I was wandering the streets of Neukölln, Berlin and saw a board saying ‘we have sidra’. I just couldn’t resist the temptation to sample it.   img_0030Company: Sidra del Sur Fuente Guijarro
Place of Origin: Yegen, Granada, Andalucia, Spain
Apples: organic old apple varieties grown in the Cortijo Fuente Guijarro 
Sweetness as per label: dry
Alc: 7%
Package type: 750 ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy pale straw with a greenish hue and no head. No carbonation. Low to medium body.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is lightly sweetish and dry at the same time with notes of sulphur, fresh green grass, young cider, vinegar and fresh apples.

Taste: it starts dry and spicy with a low to medium acidity of vinegar, Sauerkraut and lemon. On the mid-palate a watery taste, nail polish, lemon, grapefruit with green herbal undertones. It finishes dry and lightly salty with a note of olive brine and a touch of astringency and alcohol.

Overall: the Ancestral 2015 is rich with features of naturally fermented cider. Also, it was refreshing and had a long-lasting taste. For the fans of Spanish sidra, this particular sidra will be a real find. It’s an interesting cross between sidra and other European ciders. What I found disturbing is the persistent sulphur note on the nose and a light flavour of alcohol on the palate. I’m not sure whether I would buy it again to drink on its own but I could have it again with some tapas. 3.5/6

Availability: in Belgium from Altrovino. In Berlin in Naturales Weinbar.

Price: bought locally in Berlin in Naturales Weinbar at 4.5 EUR.

Помме Роял (Pomme Royal) Semisweet

Semi-sweet is the second cider made by the Belarusian company Natural Products, the owner of the cider brand Помме Роял (Pomme Royal). Their Semisweet is made from autumn,  apple varieties such as Champion, Slava and Bogatyr. Previously I’ve tried their DryCompany: Pomme Royal
Place of Origin: Shumilino, Vitebsk Region, Belarus
Ingredients: natural apple wine, water, sugar, sulphites
Sweetness as per label: semisweet
ABV: 4.7%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white and quickly dissipating head. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: I can barely get anything. Only faint notes of green and yellow apples with a touch of apple must.

Taste: my first taste is sweet of sugar with a low acidity of green apples. On the mid-palate faint notes of red apple, apple juice from green apples, and light astringent taste. Finishes dry with a light note typical fo higher alcohols. 

Overall: I’m afraid I didn’t like it. The Semisweet tastes like a sugary water flavoured with apples. I can’t say I can detect any notes that can be described as artificial or unpleasant, but I can barely get any notes. Also, it finishes quick leaving a faint apple taste. It could have been really interesting cider if not the high water content detectable on the palate. Also, you can tell that the sugar was added after pasteurisation as you can taste it. Unfortunately, it tastes like an alco-pop. Their Dry was much better. 2/6

Availability: widely available in Belarus, but also in a few cities in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Online available from Balashikha Duty Free and Wine Style.

Price: Anton from the Russian Dada Cider passed me a bottle when we met up in Berlin.

Kiezbaum Cider Apfel

After one night out in Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate, Sebastian and Wanja have realised that there was no real cider in Germany. So in 2014, they set up Kiezbaum, their own cider brand. Their goal was to create an alcoholic beverage based on organic apples grown in Hesse that would be less tart than Apfelwein consumed in Frankfurt. To date, their line up consists of Apfel (apple) and Birne (pear). In 2016, their Kiezbaum Cider Apfel won Silver in the category New World Cider at the International Cider Challange. And, this is the cider I’m about to review right now.Company: Kiezbaum, S. Grüner, I. Kunisch GbR
Place of Origin: Mainz, Hesse, Germany
Apples: locally grown apples from traditional orchards in Hesse
ABV: 4.9%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear gold with a white foam that quickly dissipates. Medium artificial carbonation. Low body.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is quite intense and sweetish with notes of apple must, yellow apples, canned pineapple, quince. Further in the background hints of wood sulphur.

Taste: it begins with low residual sweetness with a medium acidity of lemon. Further notes that come through are of canned pineapple, yellow apples, lemon candy, very low astringency and a distant note of sulphur. The aftertaste is dry with a lingering taste of lemon candy.

Overall: it might not be love at first taste as the sour taste is very pronounced in the first sip. But in the next sip, you get used to the level of sourness in it and all you can do is enjoy it. Kiezbaum’s Cider Apfel is very aromatic, with clear taste and aroma. Flavours move smoothly making you crave for more. What I admired the most was the lingering lemon candy note and the perfect level of sweetness, not entirely on the drier side. I would love to have Kiezbaum’s Cider Apfel again, especially that I think it will pair well with most dishes. If only the carbonation was natural, I would have loved it even more. A very nice drop. 4.5/6 

Availability: online in Germany from Ciderei, Bier De Luxe, Bierlager and die Bierkanzlei. In Switzerland from Gastro Drinks.

Price: Kiezbaum Apple Cider was a sample provided by Ciderei.

Oliver’s Making Hay

‘Make hay’ is a slightly shortened version of ‘make hay while the sun shines’, dating back to the mid 16th century. This idiom basically means to take advantage of good opportunities while they last. It has other meanings as well, but I’m not going to discuss them here.

Anyway, I’m confident that with the Making Hay, cider created by Oliver’s Cider & Perry, Tom Oliver really tried to make the best cider as good as it can be with the best available cider apples Herefordshire has to offer. The Making Hay is the next cider of Oliver’s Cider & Perry that I’m reviewing after the Shezam, the Fine Cider Golf Rush #5 Dry and the Traditional CiderCompany: Oliver’s Cider and Perry
Place of Origin: Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: bittersweet and bittersharp cider apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: sweet
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a small white head that slowly dissipates. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong, sweetish and lightly acetic with notes of caramel, vinegar, bittersweet apples with oaky notes and beeswax.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with the low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate a hint of vinegar, caramel, orange, bitter notes of grapefruit, lingering smokiness, medium astringency and a touch of pepper. The finish is dry with bitter notes of grapefruit, lingering astringency, smokiness and notes of caramel.

Overall: From a cider advertised as sweet I have expected much more sweetness to be frank. But luckily for me, I don’t have a sweet tooth so I wasn’t complaining at all. Perhaps those with a sweet tooth may be slightly disappointed. The Making Hay is a complex cider with typical notes of English cider and bittersweet cider apples. It has a beautiful balance of sweetness, acidity and a touch of spiciness to it. I thought it was refreshing, not too sweet and extremely drinkable. Yet, the Making Hay did not surprise me in any way. Just a very well made true English cider. It will taste great on its own but will also pair well with Asian dishes. For everyone. I would buy more. 5/6 

Availability: from Oliver’s online shop, Hop Pocket Wine Company, Crumpton Hill Farm shop, Beer Revolution. Locally in London from the Cider House and Bristol from the Bristol Cider Shop or  The Salutation Inn in Ham, and many others. In Austria from Beer Lovers. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Oliver’s Making Hay was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Pirn’sche Kälterei GoldCider Gurke 2016

Cider makers around the globe, especially in the U.S. tend to experiment with various fruits but also with veggies. Also, Steve from Pirn’sche Kälterei tried his luck at mixing apples with veggies, cucumbers to be more specific. Cucumbers are definitely summer refreshers, especially on a baking-hot day during a heatwave like the one we’re experiencing right now here in Europe. Since cucumbers are also grown in Saxon Switzerland, where Steve is based, he created a small batch of a cider infused with cucumbers. Previously I’ve tried Steve’s magnificent GoldCider Apfel 2016Company: Pirn’sche Kälterei
Place of Origin: Pirna, Saxony, Germany
Ingredients: apple sourced from old Saxonian orchards and cucumbers
ABV: 6.7%
Package type: 750ml amber glass champagne corked and wired bottle
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white head that only slowly dissipates. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong and aromatic. On the nose refreshing notes of fresh cucumber, cucumber peel with earthy notes and distant hints of honey.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a high level of acidity. Further notes that come through are smoky notes, fresh cucumber, yellow apples, vinous notes and a hint of lychee. Finishes dry with a lingering acidity of cucumber.

Overall: both the taste and the nose of the GoldCider Gurke are intense but not as rich and complex as previously tasted GoldCider Apfel. I thought the GoldCider Gurke was one-dimensional as it basically tasted mainly of fresh cucumber with apples and a lightly vinous note. Surprisingly, I didn’t find it refreshing at all. But I can imagine that the GoldCider Gurke could benefit from combining with other fruits, veggies or spices. E.g. anise seeds? Also, in my opinion, a bit higher level of sweetness wouldn’t help much. The Gold CiderGurke might pair well with food but I don’t recommend drinking it on its own. Overall, I didn’t find it as spectacular as Steve’s GoldCider Apfel. Drinkable but without drinking pleasure. Steve, don’t give up. Just improve it. 3/6 

Availability: from Steve’s online shop

Price: GoldCider Gurke was a sample provided by Steve from Pirn’sche Kälterei.

Floribunda Ginger Cider

Although Franz Eggert of Floribunda passed me the bottle of his Ginger Cider already in April at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt, I resisted to sample it simply because I thought that the ginger flavour will be too hot or too spicy. But after trying a cider with ginger from another cider maker, try to guess which one ;-), I understood that ginger can add some refreshing taste to it and decided to finally give it a go after an extreme delay. Apologies, Franz!Company: Floribunda
Place of Origin: Salurn/Salorno, South Tyrol, Italy
Ingredients: apples and ginger
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 750 ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Note: no sulphites, organic

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with a little white head that quickly dissipates.  Medium and natural carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong with beautiful notes of flowers such as lily of the valley and lily. Also, aromas of grapefruit, blood orange, and dried ginger. 

Taste: it begins dry with a touch of sweetness and a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate orange, a bit watery taste, yellow apples, dry ginger, light spiciness and lily. Finishes dry with some spiciness to it and flowery notes.

Overall: the nose is absolutely spectacular! Strong, clear with no hints of funk, only flowers and a ginger-citrusy touch. I don’t remember trying anything like this before. It took me ages (ok, 10 minutes tops) before I took the first sip cause the smell was so hypnotizing. Do I have to mention that the nose increased expectations to an extremely high level? Taste wise the Ginger Cider is complex with layers of flavours, pleasant and very easily drinkable. Extremely refreshing and not too spicy. I especially loved the lily notes coming right after the dried ginger making it really something. But it finishes a bit too fast and tastes a tiny bit too watery. Also, the taste of apple was only detectable far in the background. I think the palate is very unique although I must confess that I expected a tiny bit more. In my opinion, the Ginger Cider is a very good drop that stands out, is suitable for every palate and time of the year. I really loved its unique aroma and palate. If I could I would drink it every day. A must try! Would pair well with Asian dishes and chicken. 5/6

Availability: directly from Floribunda. In Spain from Aramburu Cultura Gastronómica.

Price: Franz kindly passed me a bottle at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt