Gutshof Kraatz Cydonia 2016

The word ‘Cydonia’ has at least two meanings. It can be a region on Mars or a fruit if referring to Cydonia oblonga M.better known as quince. For his quince wine, Florian from Gutshof Kraatz uses only fruits from local orchards in the North of Uckermark. To be honest, I haven’t had a quince wine before. But I have very pleasant memories with quince liquor made by my friend’s dad. I remember the fruity, lightly acidic taste breaking down the sweetness and a lovely astringent taste to it. Hopefully, the Cydonia crafted by Florian will bring back these memories.Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Fruits: made from quinces coming from local orchards
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a beautiful, crystal deep clear pale straw with no head. No visible carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is intense, rich and fruity with notes of mirabelle plum, peach, unripe and ripe quince, ripe pumpkin and ripe juicy cantaloupe.

Taste: the initial taste is only slightly sweet with a pleasant medium lemon-like acidity. Then it gets more fruity with notes of ripe and unripe quince, the mirabelle plum, pumpkin, ripe cantaloupe and a light astringent taste. It finishes dry with lingering fruity notes of mirabelle plum, quince, cantaloupe, a lightly chalky taste and a note of lemon drops with a distant herbal note.

Overall: Cydonia is another great wine from Florian of Gutshof Kraatz, only this time it’s made from other fruits than apples, quinces. Interestingly, the Cydonia has nothing in common with the liquor from my memories as it is sophisticated, very rich with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, with extremely long lingering wonderfully captured fruity notes, which are typical for wines made by Florian as I’ve noticed. Cydonia is a light and refreshing wine, which can be consumed alone or with food. A wine to fall in love with. 5/6

Availability: from their online shop, through Q Regio. In Frankfurt from Apfelweinkontor and Apfelweinhandlung. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in the Markthalle Neun. In Poland through Vinoteka in Szczecin.

Price: Florian contacted me and asked if I’d like to try their Apfelwein.


Megalithes La Flibuste

Guillaume Buisson is an entrepreneur from Brittany, who as a kid loved visiting his neighbours in Vannes as they would always open a bottle of delicious cidre for him. You know what they say, forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest. Having this sweet memory in mind, Guillaume introduced in 2016 his own cider brand, La Flibuste made from locally grown cider apple varieties. La Flibuste is a French term for freebooter or privateer, who operated in ports of Brittany and were involved in piracy-related activities such as forcing English or Spanish ships to pay tribute for passing up the Channel, stealing cargo or other valuables, but never attacking French ships. That’s why the French authorities didn’t combat them letting them live their La Flibuste-lifestyle. Company: Megalithes
Place of Origin: Saint Briac sur Mer, Brittany, France
Apples: a blend of Douce Coetligné, Douce Moen, Kermerrien, Marie Menard, Chevalier Jaune, Peau de Chien, Guillevic and Rouget de Dol
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass, wine glass or straight from the bottle

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with light orange hues and white short-lived head. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is tannic and lightly acidic with notes of red apples, overripe apples, dried fruits such as apricots, raisins and figs. Also, hints of beeswax, funk and vanilla. Smells like proper cidre.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with low acidity. Then the taste moves to notes of oak, lightly burnt strawberry jam-like bitterness, dried fruits including apricots and figs, red apples, light smokiness and medium astringent taste. It finishes dry with a lingering jam-like bitterness, red apples and astringent taste.

Overall: La Flibuste is a true pirate that stole my heart. Brittany is known for its great cidre but I didn’t expect La Flibuste to taste as divine and sophisticated. It has a riot of flavours, which are very nicely balanced. I found the smooth strawberry burnt jam-like bitterness absolutely amazing. I know that it is difficult to imagine a bitter taste as a turn on, but it’s like someone would be waving a magic wand while you’re drinking it. It’s not disturbing at all, quite on the contrary, it gives a very nice twist. However, due to a quite low acidity, it’s better to drink La Flibuste in small quantities just like suggested 330ml and properly chilled. Otherwise, it may get too tiring if you like your cider on the drier side. But overall, a very high-quality and brilliant tipple. Highly recommended.  5/6 

Availability: currently locally in Brittany and Normandy in France. Hopefully, cider aficionados in other countries in Europe will be able to appreciate this lovely drop soon.

Price: Gullaime contacted me and asked if I wanted to try La Filibuste.

Note: Megalithes also have a non-alcoholic version on offer of La Filibuste so you don’t have to feel excluded if you’re driving. I think it’s a great idea. Only the non-alcoholic version tastes ultra-sweet with no acidity to balance it so it’s rather an option for those having a sweet tooth.

Ramborn Kingston Black

No, Kingston Black is not an apple variety typical for Luxembourg. Kingston Black comes actually from Kingston, near Taunton, Somerset, the UK and produces a bittersharp juice, which is just splendid for making cider. It contains a nice balance of tannins, sugar and acids, which make this apple variety suitable for single-varietal cider. But how did Kingston Black end up in Luxembourg? It’s easy. Ramborn has entered into a collaboration with Peter Mitchell, who is an internationally renowned cider and perry authority.

Kingston Black is a limited edition cider from Ramborn Cider. Only 3000 bottles were produced. I’m trying one of them. Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: single variety Kingston Black
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.3%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter
Ingredients: contains sorbic acid

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a little quickly dissipating white head. Almost no carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is slightly sweet with an acidic touch and exhibits notes of red and yellow apples, caramel, butter toffee, juicy fresh apple with a hint of green apples.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet with a faintly watery note and low acidity. Subsequently, a hint of green apple, red apple, freshly pressed red apple juice, crisp apple with a delicate astringent taste appears. It ends with an apple seed, apple stems, and a lingering caramel-like bitterness, which moves to a red apple taste. It has a spicy alcohol bite to it and tastes lightly chalky as well.

Overall: Kingston Black tastes like a cross between English cider and German cider (not to confuse with German Apfelwein). It’s a good drop, but not mind-blowing simply because the alcohol burn in the aftertaste doesn’t allow you to appreciate lovely initial tastes of crisp apple, red and green apples with caramel. Due to the alcohol burn, I have the impression that Kingston Black is slightly out of balance so I think I prefer Ramborn’s experiments with local fruits than with English cider apples. Summarizing, the Kingston Black is a nice tipple with a kick. 4/6

Availability: since it is a special edition cider the availability might be limited to Ramborn’s farm. In Germany available perhaps from The Hop Shop Trier.

Price: Kingston Black was sent to me by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.

Dorset Nectar Wildcat Cider

Is the Wildcat Cider from Dorset Nectar as wild as the name indicates? Is it sharp as the wildcat’s claw and teeth? Or dangerously good? There is only one way to find out.Company: Dorset Nectar
Place of Origin: Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: local organic cider apples 
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass
Note: no sulphites, fermented with natural yeast

Appearance: pours a cloudy amber with orange hues and no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle. Little flecks floating as well.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and exhibits notes of fresh apple juice, tart apples and red apples with caramel, beeswax and leather,

Taste: the first sip is slightly watery with a delicate sweetness and very strong tannins coating your mouth and giving a strong astringent flavour (detectable throughout the whole sip). On the mid-palate red apples, caramel, low to medium acidity with a lemon citrusy taste, some funk, fresh apple juice and apple seed-bitterness. After a while, a grapefruit-like bitterness appears on the mid-palate. The finish is dry with notes of watermelon or melon. A tingling sensation on the tongue to the end.

Overall: this cider falls into a category of anti-social ciders due to the strong astringent taste that by drying your mouth shut your mouth 🙂 Similarly to the previously reviewed Old Harry Rocks the taste explodes in the first sip leaving your eyes wide open.  But then, a beautiful lingering appley and citrusy flavour appear. It’s like a dance of many flavours. Yet it tastes different than the good Old Harry Rocks. Also, I don’t remember having a cider with both types of bitterness before, grapefruit and apples-seeds-like, which were both fantastic! The Wildcat is a lovely pour with pronounced tannins, full body and a powerful apple taste. I loved it. 4.5/6

 Availability: in the UK only. From their online shop, Eebria, Fetch the Drinks, Cider Supermarket. Locally in Bristol from Bottles and Books.

Price: came with my monthly subscription from Orchard Box.

Manufaktura Cydru Półsłodki

The Polish cider scene had been dominated by men until Dorota Krawczyk and her Manufaktura Cydru’s team released last year their first cider Wytrawny (dry). Since then she has been creating unique and delicious ciders from, one would say, boring dessert and eating apples. Today I’m reviewing their Półsłodki, which is a semi-sweet cider made from Champion, Gloster and Jonagored.Company: Manufaktura Cydru
Place of Origin: Podolszyn, Masovia, Poland
a blend of Champion, Gloster and Jonagored
Package type: 
500ml green glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: chalice glass, white wine glass, snifter or pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear straw yellow with no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity with yellow apples, pear, hints of funk and a touch of sulphur.

Taste: the first impression is medium sweet with low to medium lemon-like acidity, which gives way to notes of pear, yellow apples and a hint of sulphur. It finishes dry with a distant note of bitterness, a chalky taste on the tongue and a pleasant flavour of lemon drops.

Overall: whereas Manufaktura Cydru’s Scrumpy was a cider for a connaisseur, their Półsłodki is a cider for everyone. It will be appreciated by those who like sweet cider, but also by those who like their cider on the drier side. It’s a perfect in between. It’s not as rich on the palate as the Scrumpy, but still leaves some room for sensory exploration and can be likeable. Taken together, I think that Półsłodki is a pleasant and drinkable pour and a good alternative to the Polish mainstream ciders. I would order it again. 3.5/6

Availability: from Skrzynka Piwa, a może Pifko ?Czarodziejka Gorzałka, Hoppy Story, Chmiel i Żyto in Warsaw. In Wroclaw through Drink Hala and Dobre Moce.

Price: a sample of the Półsłodki was provided to me by Dorota from Manufaktura Cydru

Abavas Ābolu Vīns Sausais

Abavas, a family-owned winery producing apple wine, cider, apple brandy, eau de vie among others was established in 2010 by Mārtinš Barkāns in the beautiful valley of Abava, Latvia, hence the name. But Mārtinš doesn’t focus only on beverages made from apples, also other fruits such as grapes, blackcurrants, chokeberries, raspberries but also veggies such as rhubarb are used as raw material for the production of their alcoholic products.

Today I’m reviewing their Ābolu Vīns Sausais (dry apple wine), which was awarded Pomme d’Or at the International Apfelwein Weltweit in Frankfurt in 2015.Company: SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”
Place of Origin: 
Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia
a blend of Latvian apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 12%
Package type: 750ml wine bottle with natural cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw. No visible carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and acidic with notes of crisp, tart and ripe yellow apples, a lightly vinous note and nectarines with hints of green notes.

Taste: the first sip is more semi-dry than dry with some residual sweetness to it and medium lemon-like acidity. On the mid-palate notes of white wine grapes, nectarine, yellow apple and herbal notes. The aftertaste is dry leading to a slightly boozy biting finish with a hint of white pepper, a touch of chalk, distant smoky note, juicy green apple and a hint of pink grapefruit flesh.

Overall: Ābolu Vīns Sausais is a very interesting apple wine. Starting with an unusually high ABV of 12% and unique notes on the palate typical rather for white wine such as notes of nectarine, peach or white pepper. With every sip, you discover a new flavour, which makes this Latvian apple wine elegant and complex. Only the light boozy taste is disturbing here, otherwise a really nice wine that can appeal to all types of taste buds. Also, it will go well with veal. 4/6 

Availability: in Estonia from Siidrimaja, in Latvia from Spirit & Wines, in the Netherlands from CiderCider, in Russia in Redrum Bar in St. Petersburg, in Italy from Compagnia dei Caraibi.
Price: Ābolu Vīns Sausais was provided to Cider Explorer for testing
Note: Abavas will attend the craft cider concept exhibition – “same but different” at ProWein in Düsseldorf in March 2018.

Trabanco Lagar de Camin

The Trabanco family has been making sidra on a commercial scale in Gijón, in the beautiful Spanish region of Asturias since 1925. As almost every family in this region, the Trabancos have been making sidra long before that but only for their own use. Sidra Trabanco has quickly emerged from a small family business to the large and well prospering Trabanco Group.  Today I have the pleasure of sampling their Lagar de Camin from their sparkling sidra range.
Sidra Trabanco
Place of Origin: Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Apples: a blend of bitter, acidic and sweet apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 750ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a huge quickly reducing white head. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is dry and sweet at the same time, with notes of vinegar, tart apples, funk, barnyard, leather, fermented yellow apples, oak. Underlying slightly floral notes with a green apple round up the aroma.

Taste: it begins with high sweetness and low vinegary and citrusy acidity with grapefruit notes. On the mid-palate fermented apples and yellow apples with a lingering flavour of smoked cheese and a hint of green apple. It finishes dry with a grapefruit peel bitterness to the end.

Overall: Trabanco’s Lagar de Camin is a decent Spanish sidra that can be likeable. It has typical features of this cider style, acetic acidity and grapefruit flavours. Also, it has a nice structure and good breadth of flavours that are not boring. In my view, the taste of vinegar is not abundant, so it’s gentle on your stomach. It is advertised as sidra that pairs well with desserts, and I think I can agree with this recommendation. Moreover, Asian dishes could also pair well with it in my opinion. Personally, I found the Lagar de Camin too sweet to my palate but I didn’t get an impression that I am drinking a sugar-loaded acetic lemonade. Not at all! I enjoyed it. 4/6

Availability: through Enobohemia, Sabor de Siempre, La Tienda de la Sidra and many others.   

Price: purchased earlier last year at Chmielołak in Warsaw at 32 PLN (7.55 EUR). Unfortunately, I don’t think they carry it anymore.