Axminster Craft Cider Dabinett & Sweet Coppin

To Nick of Axminster Craft Cider, it all started as a hobby. In the village he lived in, there was a very old cider apple tree that Nick used for his cider. In the same village, he found an apple orchard with cider apple trees planted in the 1970s. After a while, Nick moved to a farm with a cider house and started making cider commercially. This year, he made 5000 litres. This is my first time trying anything from Axminster Craft Cider.Company: Axminster Craft Cider 
Place of Origin: Axminster, Devon, UK
Apples: a blend of Dabinett and Sweet Coppin
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep amber with a dark orange hue and a small head that slowly reduces to a ring. Low to medium carbonation. Body is low to medium too.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with notes of caramel, baked apples, apple skin but also tart apples, bittersweet apples with a hint of wood and resin.

Taste: my first impression is lightly sweet with low acidity of lemon. Smokiness, baked apples, overripe apples, low bitterness, caramel, sweetener. Finishes dry and a bit watery and a trace of lingering caramel-like bitterness, medium astringency and some sweetener-like sweetness to it and a note of dark chocolate.

Overall: the aroma is absolutely brilliant! It combines the best and most delicious features of an English cider and French cidre. The nose is clean without off-notes but yet you can tell that it is made with proper cider apples. It took me literally 5 minutes before I moved on to take the first sip. On the palate, you get practically the same fabulous notes as on the nose. Also, the Axminster Craft Cider has an incredibly long taste that seems to never end. All these flavours of caramel, overripe apples and baked apples with a touch of bitterness literally dance in your mouth. It’s like a seductive tango of your taste buds. Drink this cider after a hard day at work to celebrate the evening. Pure heaven! I definitely would drink more. Scrattings, can you please start listing Axminster Cider? 5.5/6  

Availability: directly from Axminster Cider Co or online from Slurp.

Price: Nick provided me with a sample. 

Mostbarone Apfel Cider

The focus of Mostbarone of Lower Austria is not entirely on pears. Sometimes they make cider as well. Today I give you the Mostbarone Baron Apfel Cider.

Company: Distelberger Genuss-Bauernhof
Place of Origin:
 Öhling, Lower Austria, Austria
Apple cider, apple juice
Sweetness as per label: 
Package type:
 330 ml clear glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: 
white wine glass, chalice glass or flute

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw yellow with a white head that quickly reduces to a ring. Medium and artificial carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with notes of fresh, tart and green apples. Notes of apple skins of cooking apples. Freshly pressed apple juice.

Taste: my first impression is moderately sweet with low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of fresh apple juice, watery note, green apples, apple flesh. Finishes with an aromatic note of fresh apples. 

Overall: The Baron Apfel cider was clearly made with dessert apples as it is very light, even a bit watery with no sign of the tannin on the palate. It has a longlasting and very aromatic and apply taste. This is a splendid offering for a hot summer day or for those who prefer gentle and fruity ciders. A pleasant and naturally tasting alternative to industrial ciders of this world. But you can’t drink much of it. So drink it properly chilled. I had difficulties finishing the small 33cl bottle. Not my cup of tea but the majority of regular cider drinkers will surely love it. 4.5/6

Availability: directly through Mostbarone.

Price: It was a sample provided by Toni from Mostbarone.

Aspall Harry Sparrow

Harry Sparrow was launched in 2012 by Aspall, a British cider maker, who last year made the headlines after being snapped up by the US beer giant Molson Coors. This cyder is named after Aspall’s cider maker who had worked for the Aspall family for 50 years. I wonder what would he have to say about the acquisition. Anyway, the Harry Sparrow is advertised as a more sessionable cyder than other ciders from Aspals lineup. Company: Aspall 
Place of Origin: Debenham, Suffolk, UK
Apples: made from bittersweet apple varieties such as Kingston Black & Medaille d’Or
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 4.6%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with gentle orange hues. Lightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is not very strong, but rich with notes of caramel, vanilla, red apple, red apple skin and red berries. Smells quite nice.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet, rather medium than medium dry, with low acidity. Subsequently, I pick up a smoky note, a bit watery note with flavours of red apple, caramel, and red berries. It finishes dry with a taste of red berries, crispy red apples, a low astringent taste, a light buttery note and a hint of burnt caramel.

Overall: the Harry Sparrow is claimed to be made from bittersweet cider apples, which are known for their high tannin content giving an astringent and/or bitter taste. But I can get only a very lightly astringent taste and no bitterness. Also, a quite low ABV of 4.6% makes this cyder look very suspicious. My guess is that this cyder was diluted with water. Another option is that eating/cooking apple varieties were also used in the blend. Either way, The Harry Sparrow is a light and drinkable cyder from Aspall. It tastes sweeter than advertised so I would classify it as a medium cider, not medium dry. A tiny bit too sweet to my liking, but I think it can be enjoyable. In addition, a flavour of red berries makes the Harry Sparrow quite refreshing. I would recommend this cider if you’re at the beginning of your cider journey or you’re looking for a light and sweet tasting cider. 3.5/6 

Availability: in the UK from their online shop, Morrisons, Tesco, Beers of Europe. In Germany from Cider and More. In terms of shops locally in Berlin from Hopfen und Malz. In the Czech Republic from Dobry Cider and Delikatesy online,

Price: purchased from Hopfen und Malz at 4.5 EUR n Berlin.

Cider Tasting – Gutshof Kraatz in Frankfurt

img_4397Have I already told you that Frankfurt is a fantastic city, especially if you’re into Apfelwein? Apfelwein can be purchased pretty much everywhere here. One of the great apple wine spots in Frankfurt is the Apfelweinhandlung run by Jens Becker, where recently a tasting of apple wines made by Florian Profiltich of Gutshof Kraatz from the Uckermark took place. Actually, it’s not so long ago when I visited Florian in the Uckermark and had a guided tour of the facilities located 200km north of Berlin. For detailed visit recap, click here.

Actually, Florian together with his wife Edda just started their vacation. Their plan was to visit Metz, Luxembourg and Pfalz. But they also decided to squeeze in a short stop in Frankfurt and showcase Florian’s apple wines at Apfelweinhandlung before really going on vacation. Florian brought a couple of bottles that I have already tried and even reviewed. But, he also brought with him wines that were new to me so I was very excited to taste them.

Altländer Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein 2017 (ABV: 8% )

img_4386It’s not my first acquaintance with this apple wine as I tried it at Florian’s Gutshof Kraatz and also reviewed it recently (click here for the full review) so I was happy to be able to try this beautiful sparkling apple wine again.  Florian mentioned that this apple variety needs a marine/coastal climate and is rare to find in other regions of Germany. It’s a typical cooking apple used for baking. In addition, it’s a great apple to press and quite similar to Bohnapfel but with less astringency. The 2017 vintage was made from apples grown in two locations and bottled in 2018. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, lemon, yellow apples, a distant hint of Bretts. Taste: dry, moderate lemon-like acidity, yellow apples, smokiness, low bitterness, low astringency. Overall: Just like the last time and time before last time, drinking the Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein was a pure pleasure. Smooth, quite light, nicely balanced with a long-lasting taste. Interestingly, the wild notes were less strong both on the nose as on the palate. Other participants were fond of this drop too! 5.5/6


Schwarze Katze 2018 (8.5%)

Schwarze Katze is made mainly with Bohnapfel. The juice was pressed 5 days after crushing, so the fermentation kicked in spontaneously and gave better juice yields. After the primary fermentation, Schwarze Katze underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was aged on lees. Appearance: cloudy, golden, medium carbonation. The body is medium. Aroma: yellow apples, not strong. Taste: dry, moderate to high lemon-like acidity, moderate astringency, low astringency, off-notes, short taste. Overall: Again, this was the 3rd time I was tasting this drop (here is full review). And, it still didn’t convince me. The off-notes are too strong. Also, the taste was rather short. Despite nice apple-y flavours on the palate, I’m not going to be friends with this one. 3/6

Bohnapfel 2018 aus dem Holzfass (8%)

img_4391This is a single-varietal apple wine made with Bohnapfel that was aged in French oak barrels that were previously used for red wine. Florian recommended decanting the Bohnapfel 2018. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, moderately strong, vanilla. Taste: dry, moderate to high lemon-like acidity, yellow apples,  lightly watery, low astringency, lemon, caramel, vanilla. Long taste. Overall: I tried this wine for the first time. It lacked the body although it was rich in terms of flavours. Others liked it and thought it was interesting but could imagine drinking only a glass of it, not more. I think it’s a good description as it didn’t strike me as well. 3.5/6

Goldrenetten 2018 (9.5%)

img_4394-2Goldrenette is a blend of 5 different renettes including Kasseler Renette, Blenheim Renette, Goldparmäne, Graue Renette and Boskoop. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, butter caramel, strong. Taste: lightly sweet, low acidity, low but lingering burnt caramel-like bitterness, medium astringency, caramel, butter caramel, vanilla. Long taste. Overall: Again, I tried this wine for the first time. There was lots going on both the nose and the palate. And, it was indeed a pleasure to drink this drop. I love the rich apple wines that make you discover more notes with every sip. Also, I personally loved the flavours of butter caramel. Definitely, something that I would like to try again. 5/6

Adamsparmäne 2018 (9.5%)

img_4396Adamsparmäne is actually an English apple variety also known as Norfolk Pippin. It gives quite small apples according to Florian. Appearance: almost clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: quince, strong, aromatic, apple skin, vanilla. Taste: lightly sweet, low acidity, moderate caramel-like bitterness that lingers on, caramel, butter caramel, quince, low astringency, alcohol. Long taste. Overall: I didn’t like the 2016 vintage at all (for full review click here) as I thought it tasted way too bitter. Hence, I was very curious to taste the 2018 vintage. The 2018 vintage is admittedly also quite bitter but the bitterness is not striking, not unpleasant. It’s just not a plain bitterness but a nicely incorporated bitterness contributing to the overall taste instead of killing it. Its taste is rich, with lovely notes that go on and on. I enjoyed it this year. 4.5/5

Wilde Kerle 2017

img_4398Florian makes this apple wine from wild apple varieties that once. Appearance: clear, pale golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, quince, rather weak – but the tasting temperature was here a bit too low. Taste: dry, moderate to high acidity, yellow apples, moderate caramel-like bitterness, quince, high astringency. Long taste. Overall: It’s different to the 2016 vintage that I absolutely adored (to read the full review click here). The taste is still very long and a lot is going on on the palate here. Interestingly, the level of acidity was higher than I remember and made this apple wine taste very refreshing. Still, the acidity was a bit too strong even for me. It didn’t compliment this offering. But from what I heard also others had similar thoughts to mine. 4.5/6

Wilde Kerle 2018

img_4399It’s the 2018 vintage of the same blend. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is img_4404medium. Aroma: vanilla, caramel, lightly citrusy. Taste: slightly sweet, low acidity, caramel, apple seeds and apple seeds- bitterness, apple skin,  moderate astringency. Long taste. Overall: It’s fascinating to compare two very different vintages that were made from the same apples but in a different year. The 2017 vintage had a much higher acidity, while the 2018 vintage was rather low in acid. Also, while the 2017 vintage is more fruity with notes of quince, the 2018 vintage has more body and alcohol with more caramel-like notes. Even the colour was different. It shows how different weather conditions were in this region in both years (see the pic above). 5/6

Sauerkirschen 2018 (16%)

img_4400This is not an apple wine  as you can judhe by the colour but a wine made with sour and sweet cherries. Florian made only 300 bottles of this drop. It was the first time he managed to get the fruit as previously the birds would eat almost the whole crop. But somehow in 2018, starlings spared the cherries so Florian could also experiment with cherries. Appearance: dark magenta, still. The body is medium. Aroma: cloves, cinnamon, blackberries, like mulled wine, very strong. Taste: moderately sweet, low acidity of cherries, cinnamon, cloves, low bitterness, moderate astringency. Long taste. Overall: I double-checked with Florian if he added any spices to this wine. So no spices added. I was amazed as the notes of cinnamon and cloves together made this drop taste like a not so overly sweet mulled wine with extremely strong notes of Christmas spices. All participants loved this offering including me. 5.5/6

Overall, I knew Florian before and tried many apple wines or fruit wines made by him. So it wasn’t a surprise to me that most of the wines tastes during this evening were really brilliant. But this tasting gave me a rare opportunity of comparing different vintages of the same wines from the range of Gutshof Kraatz. It was striking that most of the 2018 vintages had a rather unusually low level of acidity but higher alcohol level. This is in line with weather conditions that were in 2018 that caused lower acid levels in apples. Also, it was interesting to see how the taste of Altländer Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein 2017 evolved. I tried this wine three times within 3 months and now there were almost no funky notes on the palate.  It just shows that there are truly many factors influencing the taste of cider and that apple wine is a wine not without a reason. With age, it changes. I wish there would be another tasting in another 3 months so I can compare my notes. From left to right: Edda Müller, Natalia Wszelaki, Florian Profitlich, Christine Isensee-Kiesau, Jens Becker, Michael Stöckl

Sidrada Brut

When I visited Porto, Portugal two years ago, I obviously kept an eye out for local cider. But the only ciders I found were industrial cider brands. No wonder, I didn’t come across any real cider in Portugal since Sidrada was set up only in 2017. Sidrada is made up by Nuno and Liliana, who wanted to put an end to apple waste in West Portugal. In 2016, Liliana visited Nuno’s orchards, who is an apple and pear grower in 3rd generation. After she noticed plenty of small and ugly fruits lying around and going to waste, she challenged Nuno to make something beautiful out of it. This is how Sidrada was created.

The Sidrada Brut is my first Portuguese cider. It’s made from three apple varieties, Royal Gala, Granny Smith and Reinette. 11 apples were needed to make 750ml of this cider.Company: Sidrada
Place of Origin: Bombarral, Centro, Portugal
locally grown Royal Gala, Granny Smith and Reinette
Package type: 
750ml clear glass corked wine bottle
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours an almost clear pale amber and a tiny white head that slowly dissipates. Low carbonation. Body medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is moderately strong and sweetish with notes of ripe red berries, red-fleshed apple and apple flesh.

Taste: it begins dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, ripe red berries, champagne-like note, red-fleshed apples, low bitterness. Finishes dry with a touch of bitterness and notes typical for champagne.

Overall: Once I read that the Brut is made with typical dessert apples, I thought that I’m not gonna like this one. Especially, that Granny Smith usually gives a note typical for this apple variety. But it turns out that I was completely wrong. The Sidrada Brut is a smooth cider with very nicely balanced acidity and notes that must come from ageing on the lees. It is a light cider with a longlasting taste that doesn’t resemble any cider I had so far that was made with dessert apples. It tastes like a cross between champagne with a touch of rosé. It’s very elegant and I wished that carbonation was even higher as it would be a great alternative to champagne or sparkling white wine. In my opinion, it will go well with fish or white meat. I would buy more. 4.5/6

Availability: mainly in Portugal. But also in France.

Price: a sample of this cidre was provided by Liliana from Sidrada.

Kerisac Cuveé Brut

Black is considered in marketing as a colour of class, sophistication and high quality. I wonder if the black label of the cidre from Brittany created by a French mainstream cidre brand Kerisac has something to do with good taste.CompanyEts Guillet Freres Cidres Kerisac
Place of Origin: Guenrouët, Brittany, France
Apples: a blend of cider apples
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 5%
Package type: 750ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute, white wine glass or boleé

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy golden with orange hues/pale amber and a huge white head, which slowly dissipates to a thin ring around the glass. Strong carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very rich and exhibits notes of pear, red apples, dried fruits, dried apricots, peaches, raisins with underlying green herbal notes. Lovely!

Taste: the first impression is some medium sweetness with low to medium acidity. Moderate astringent taste, dried apricots, raisins, ripe pear, baked apples, ripe fig, dried fruits, thyme and green herbal notes on the mid-palate. The finish is dry with a lingering astringent taste, flavours of crisp apple with dried fruits. Also, there is a spicy tingling on the tongue combined with a slightly chalky taste.

Overall: Wow! I would never expect a mainstream cidre to taste so glorious! It’s extremely rich with a huge breadth of various dried fruit notes that don’t get boring at any time. Quite on the contrary, with every sip, you discover a new delicious flavour that moves smoothly to another one you have already identified. It makes you want to go on a real cider exploration journey. Cuveé Brut is very quaffable and perfect for any season of the year. Actually, I’ve shared a bottle of the Cuveé Brut with my friend and we both loved it so the bottle got empty within 10 minutes. It was an amazing experience, which I’m going to repeat. It’s a cidre for everyone. 5/6

Availability: broad in France. Outside of France, I was available to track it only in Berlin in KaDeWe.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from the KaDeWe at 4.98 EUR. Worth every cent.

Oldfields Applesecco Discovery Cider

It may have come to your attention that prosecco is still an extremely popular beverage in the UK. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Oldfields Orchard from Worcestershire has decided to take advantage of the ongoing prosecco boom and released in 2016 an ‘applesecco’, an apple version of prosecco. Oldfields Appplesecco is made entirely from Discovery, a dessert apple variety discovered in late 1940’s in Langham, Essex and is sold in stylish bottles imported from Italy. This is my 2nd cider from Oldfields after their Medium DryCompany: Oldfields Cider, Lambswick Drinks Company c/o Hobsons Brewery
Place of Origin: Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, UK
Apples: single varietal from Discovery apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: flute or white wine glass

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

Aroma/Nose: it smells fruity and slightly sweet of freshly cut ripe dessert red apples, light honey and a hint of green apples.

Taste: it begins medium dry with low acidity. The taste gets a bit watery with a note of dessert apples, fresh apples, red apples, red berries, caramel and a hint of bitterness and a light astringent taste. It finishes dry with a hint of green apples.

Overall: the flavour of freshly cut red apples on the nose is absolutely phenomenal. Taste wise you can tell that the Applesecco was made from dessert apples, but nevertheless, it tastes fruity, complex, apple forward and delicious. Really gorgeous! However, the longer you drink it, the less you want to take another sip. Although both the aroma and taste are brilliant, you get bored with them very quickly and suddenly you realise that this beautiful bottle is too much even for two. I can imagine a glass of it would be a refreshing alternative on a hot summer day. But just a glass of it. 4/6 

Availability: in the UK from Specialty Drinks Limited, Moonshine and Fuggles, Shropshireowns, Crumpton Hill Farmshop or Hop Pocket Wine Company. In Germany from Britische-Biere.

Price: bought online from Britische Biere at 6.99 EUR.