Tabun Cydr z Otomina Nehou 2020

This is the third cider from the line up of Tabun Cydr z Otomina from the Polish Pomerania made by Michał after the Krik 2020 and Wytrawny 2020. And, the second single-varietal cider made with a cider apple variety, this time it’s Nehou. Nehou is a bittersweet cider apple variety widely grown in England. As you can tell by its name, it’s not an English variety as it originated in Nehou, Normandy, France.

I’ve never tried a single-varietal cider made with this variety so let’s review it.

Company: Restauracja Tabun
Place of Origin: Otomin, Pomerania, Poland
Apples: Nehou
Sweetness as per label: wytrawny (dry)
ABV: 7%
Package type:
500 ml amber glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass:
white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with an orange hue. Medium body. Low to moderate natural carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is moderately strong but there is not much on the nose. All I could get were notes of funk, something spicy to it and milled, ripe apples.

Taste: my first taste is bone-dry with a very low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, watery, with a very high astringency and notes of wood, dried apples, dried pineapple and other dried tropical fruits. Finishes dry with a lingering astringency and a note of woody bitterness.

Overall: I guess there must be a reason why there are no single-varietal cider from Nehou. The Tabun Nehou is a truly hardcore and in a way unbalanced cider. The nose is rather average with dominating notes of funk and doesn’t really say a lot about what you might expect on the palate. But when you take the first sip, you get a feeling that you have just licked the inside of a barrel or cask. I’m not kidding! The tannin in this cider is extremely strong giving a very strong woody flavor and aggressive astringency accompanied by interesting but difficult to describe fruity flavors that closely resemble tropical fruits. The length is good although the Nehou itself tastes watery. I asked Michał whether this cider was matured in a cask but until now I didn’t get an answer to my question. But that would have been my first thought that the Nehou was barrel-aged. Or maybe this apple variety is a real hardcore as a single-varietal but gives a great kick when blended? Personally, I found the Nehou too harsh, too aggressive for ma palate and wouldn’t buy it again. Nevertheless, I think it is an interesting and worth-trying offering that will certainly find a group of fans. Especially if you are into flavors that resemble barrel-aging or come from barrel-aging. 4/6 

Availability: only in Poland for now at Restauracja Tabun in Otomin. Perhaps soon in Gdynia from Afroalko, in Warsaw from Zrodlo Niebanalnych Piw i Alkoholi and in Krakow from Winnacja.

Price: a bottle of this cider was provided by Michał (Restauracja Otomin)

Kertelreiter An Craobh Airgid 2019

Since Barry is Irish by origin, it is not a surprise that one of his ciders carries an Irish name. “An Craobh Airgid” is Irish for “the Silver Branch”, a symbol found in Irish mythology and literature. The Silver Branch with white apple blossom coming from a sacred apple tree represented a gateway to the Celtic otherworld.

The Craobh Airgid is a blend of Reine de Reinette, Jonagold, Boskoop, Brettacher and further apple varieties that was matured on pomace before moving to the oak barrel for 9 months. Afterwards, it was aged on toasted apple wood.

Company: Kertelreiter Cider
Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Apples: a blend of Reine de Reinette, Jonagold, Boskoop, Brettacher and more
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6,6%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale golden with a greenish hue and moderate and natural carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with wild notes, a touch of vinegar, grapefruit, distant yellow apples and and something spicy to it.

Taste: my first taste is bone dry with low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, watery notes, low grapefruit-peel like bitterness and plain bitter notes with faint notes of yellow apples. Finishes dry with a lingering acidity of lemon, green notes, notes typical for malo-lactic fermentation and a touch of astringency. Also, a champagne-like appeared to the end.

Overall: When I asked Barry whether he used wild yeast for the An Craobh Airgid, he denied as he usually works with selected wine yeasts. But after a while he admitted that the base cider for this cider was aged on pomace, which could be the source of wild yeast. Well, the funky notes on the nose clearly indicate that wild yeast had “their hands” in this cider. The nose was strong and rich and fruity and to me “obviously” very inviting. Although the palate also had many various flavors to offer with a good length and long-lasting notes of lemon and grapefruit, somehow they were not in harmony with each other. Despite so many features of a good cider – strong and rich nose, many flavors on the palate that went on and on, I didn’t enjoy having this drop. I tried to evaluate what is it in this cider that makes it to me taste rather unpleasant and I came to a conclusion that it’s the combination of green notes with the plain bitter notes. I suppose some may enjoy this combination but I clearly don’t belong to this group. 3.5/6

Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!

Price: Barry provided me with a sample.

Tabun Cydr z Otomina Wytrawny 2020

After I published the very favourable review of the Tabun Krik 2020, Michał of the Polish Tabun Cydr z Otomina, reached out to me with regards to the Wytrawny 2020 saying: “Don’t drink it! Let it go down the drain”. How could I possibly do that with a craft cider? Admittedly, I have already done that with several industrial alco-pops but never to a proper cider made from real fruit and without unnecessary additives.

This the third vintage that I’m sampling of Michał‘s Wytrawny after the 2018 and 2019 vintage. However, this time Michał made some changes to the blend adding Granny Smith and introducing new experimental apple varieties. Company: Restauracja Tabun
Place of Origin: Otomin, Pomerania, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties with dessert apple varieties and experimental apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: wytrawny (dry)
ABV: 7,1%
Package type: 
750 ml green glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass:
 white wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy pale straw yellow colour with a greenish hue and a small head that reduces to a ring around the glass. Low carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is rather weak, but pleasantly fruity with notes of raw pineapple, green notes, wood, distant lemon juice and a touch of funk. 

Taste: it begins bone dry with low to medium acidity of lemon juice. On the mid-palate, slightly salty at first, watery with a lingering note of diluted lemon juice, green unripe banana, lime juice, a touch of astringency and vinegar. Finishes with a notes of lime, pear, green unripe banana and lees.  

Overall:  I had the Wytrawny 2020 on a very cloudy, gloomy and rather cold Sunday afternoon, while I think it is a cider to be drunk on a warm sunny day due to its pleasantly citrusy and thus refreshing character. The Wytrawny 2020 is a complex cider with plenty of various notes both on the nose and on the palate. With each sip I could discover a new flavor that I didn’t get before. So drinking the Wytrawny 2020 was a true cider exploring journey. And, a pleasant one on top of that. Similarly to previous vintages, it kept the citrusy character but the 2020 vintage is much more complex than just a lemon spritzer. With all these lemon, lime and green banana notes Michal managed to create a really pleasant and light drink although completely different than the Krik 2020. So why is this cider getting only 4/5? Because the nose could have been stronger and the taste a bit less watery.  I know, I always have to look for sth to complain about. Overall, the Wytrawny 2020 is a light and nicely drinkable pour that will go well on its own but will also pair nicely with e.g. Spanish tapas. 4/6 

Availability: only in Poland for now at Restauracja Tabun in Otomin and from Alfroalko in Gdynia. In Warsaw from Zrodlo Niebanalnych Piw i Alkoholi and from Winnacja in Krakow.

Price: a bottle of this cider was provided by Michał (Restauracja Otomin)

Kertelreiter Levitation 2019

What is the sum of the equation Irish in Germany and local fruit? That’s not rocket science, isn’t it? Obviously, the answer is CIDER or PERRY. A few years after Barry Masterson moved from Ireland to Germany with his wife (who happens to be German), he bought the harvest rights to some trees (he spent 10 EUR!!!) and started experimenting with the fruit. Until recently, making cider and perry was just a hobby of his. In 2019, he set up Kertelreiter Cider.

I’ve decided to start with the Kertelreiter Levitation 2019, as this perry is made mostly with the fruit coming from old pear trees that Barry loves to hunt down. The Levitation is made with Oberösterreichischer Weinbirne 70%, Conference 20%, Luxemburger Mostbirne 10%.

Company: Kertelreiter Cider
Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Pears: Oberösterreichischer Weinbirne 70%, Conference 20%, Luxemburger Mostbirne 10%
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7,7%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours an almost clear pale golden with a small head that reduces to a tiny ring. Moderate and natural carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is moderately strong and fruity with notes of elderflower, lychee, peach and a tiny hint of sulphur along with a champagne note.

Taste: it starts bone dry with practically no acidity. On the mid-palate, fruity notes of elderflower, lychee, peach and super high astringency that gives you a feeling of cat’s tongue. Finishes dry with low alcohol, lingering notes of fruits and a touch of bitterness and high astringency.

Overall: I’m looking at my tasting notes right now and I don’t think they properly describe the experience that you get while drinking this perry as the Levitation 2019 is a magnificent drop. And, one of the best perry’s that I ever had! The tannins are extremely strong and make your tongue feeling like a cat’s tongue but this is absolutely not disturbing and actually contributing to the overall complexity of this perry. Actually, if not the tannin content, I would have said I’m drinking a lovely, rich and nicely balanced riesling. That tannin kick is really something! Each sip was an unbelievable experience that I wanted to go through again and again. Interestingly, after drinking only half of the 33cl bottle, I actually felt pleasantly tipsy. Hard to imagine that the ABV is only at 7,7%. Anyways, now I understand where the name of this perry came from, the Levitation. Food-wise, I paired the Levitation 2019 with spicy Indian Chicken Saagwala and I thought it was a good combination that pushed the fruity notes of this perry to the front. Barry of Kertelreiter cider is a cider maker to watch out for in Germany. I would buy more. 5/6

Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!

Price: Barry provided me with a sample

Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020

In 2020, I reviewed the 2019 vintage of the Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin. Now as Nick provided me with a sample of the recently released Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020, it’s time to evaluate this newcomer.

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%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber 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, earth, baked apples and raisins. Also, there seems to be sth chemical to it – must be the tannin.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with low acidity of lemon. Notes of caramel, smokiness, wood, red apples and apple seeds. Moderate and smooth astringency. Finishes dry and quickly bit then suddenly notes of caramel and a caramel-like bitter touch emerge out of nowhere.

Overall: I have a feeling that my reviews may become boring soon as my “recent” cider reviews tend to be very positive. I guess that simply cider samples that I get recently are impeccable. And, I’m afraid that in the case of the Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020 it will be no different. It’s a really decent, full-bodied cider with a delicious array of flavours and a smooth yet relatively strong astringency that a good cider needs. The nose is strong and has a chemical touch to it but it’s rather due to the tannin content. The Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020 is not overly sweet although for my palate I though it was already too much. However, it wasn’t too sweet to my friend who I shared this cider with. All I heard while drinking was “oohs and aahs” – sounds every cider maker would like to hear. So it seems to be a good opportunity for those with a sweet tooth. I enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind having it again. 5/6

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

Price: Nick provided me with a sample. 

Winnica Lipowiec Cydr Roztoczański Sad 2020

Winnica Lipowiec was established in 2008 in Lipowiec by the Popko family. Lipowiec is a village located right next to the Roztoczanski National Park in southeastern Poland. And, “winnica” stands for vineyard in Polish. As the name already indicates, Winnica Lipowiec specializes in making wine, not cider. However, as you can see the Popko family also caught the cider bug thanks to the Lubelskie Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Cydru ( Lublin Cider Enthusiasts Association) that gathers cider aficionados located in Lublin Voivodeship.

The Winnica Lipowiec Cydr Roztoczański Sad 2020 is a blend of locally and organically grown old apple varieties such as Boskoop, Bohnapfel, Reinette du Canada and many others fermented with selected yeast. Subsequently, this cider was bottle conditioned and disgorged.

Although with the current volume of 100-150 L Winnica Lipowiec is still in the experimental phase, Leszek Popko is already planning to increase the production capacity and release a few ciders next year.

It’s the first time that I’m sampling a craft cider from this part of Poland.

Company: Winnica Lipowiec
Place of Origin: Lipowiec, Lublin Voivodeship, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties such as Boskoop, Bohnapfel, Reinette du Canada and a couple of others
ABV: 7%
Package type: 750ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a cloudy dark golden yellow with a small head. Moderate to high carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rather weak. Even after (almost) putting my nose inside the glass, I could only get faint notes of yellow apples and some quince.

Taste: my first taste is bone dry with a moderate to high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of lemon, yellow apples, slightly watery taste, and low astringency with some quince. Finishes dry with a lingering note of lemon and a touch of bitterness.

Overall: I hate to say it but Cydr Roztoczański Sad 2020 didn’t meet my expectations. It’s taste is unfortunately one-dimensional. The palate is basically dominated by notes of lemon, some quince and lees – not disturbing, definitely adding complexity to this cider. Also, the scent was almost not-existent. All this taken together leads to a conclusion that it’s not enough to call this cider a good one. My friend who also sampled this cider thought that the level of acidity was too high for her palate. In my opinion, the level of acidity was fine but still drinking this cider didn’t give me any pleasure. Not bad but not really good. It feels really hard to write this knowing how much efforts were put into making this cider. Cydr Roztoczański Sad 2020 has a potential but it is just not there yet. It’s drinkable, but preferably with food (I would recommend pairing it with fish dishes). Please don’t hate me. Fingers crossed for the next experiments! 3/6    

Availability: not available for sale yet

Price: a sample of this cider was provided by Leszek from Winnica Lipowiec

Tabun Cydr z Otomina Krik 2020

I’m going to surprise you. Apples used for this Polish cider don’t come from Poland. Michal of Restauracja Tabun, Otomin, Poland wasn’t fully satisfied with cider made from local apple varieties as they lacked the tannin. So in 2020, as an experiment he imported a batch of Kingston Black from Somerset, UK and made a single-varietal cider using a method that he previously used for e.g. the Wytrawny 2019, Wytrawny Dziki 2019 or Wytrawny 2018. I guess Michal must have been happy with the end result as this year, he is planning to plant a few English cider apple varieties incl. Kingston Black and Dabinett as Brexit may no longer allow for export of this English good (I’m not an expert though). So I’m really looking forward to trying the Krik 2020!

As for the name, Krik is the name of a graffiti artist active in the Tri-city (the Tri-city is made up of three cities- Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia) in Pomerania, Poland. Krik is also the one who designed the label of this cider. So the “Krik 2020” is a sort of a tribute to this artist.

Company: Restauracja Tabun
Place of Origin: Otomin, Pomerania, Poland
Apples: Kingston Black
Sweetness as per label: wytrawny (dry)
ABV: 5,3%
Package type: 
750 ml green glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass:
 white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with an orange hue. Medium body. Low to moderate natural carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong – once I opened the bottle my friend could get the aroma from the other side of the room. First notes that I could get were of funk with a touch of sulphur and milled, ripe red apples. After a while, I could also get a touch of something spicy resembling juniper.

Taste: it begins with a touch of sweetness and initially a sharp taste (disappears after a few sips) with low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of dried apricots, ripe, shredded red apples, caramel and low astringency. The finish is dry with long-lasting notes of lemon, caramel and a touch of bitterness.

Overall: In a blind tasting, I would have never guessed that Krik was made from Kingston Black. I would rather say it’s a Normandy-style cider but perhaps drier and with higher acidity than the Normandy counterparts. Michal’s cider is full-bodied but doesn’t taste syrupy. The level of sweetness is just right, not too dry, not to sweet. Actually, I would rather put it on the scale of sweetness as medium dry. The acidity gives a lovely balance to this cider (btw, I’m actually quite surprised by the acidity that Kingston Black can give). I especially loved the long-lasting aftertaste that lasted forever- the combination of caramel, lemon and a subtle touch of bitterness. Mind-blowing! The wild notes of funk on the nose may put some of you off at first but you will not find them on the palate so I still I think it may be a cider for everyone. Especially that I shared the Krik 2020 with a friend who thought that this was the best Polish cider she ever had. I must actually agree with her – the Krik 2020 is one of the best Polish ciders I ever had (even though made with Somerset apples). I guess the Krik 2020 case shows how important apple varieties are for cider making. As for food-pairings, I can imagine having this cider with soft cheeses made with sheep or goat milk. Michal, this time I have absolutely no reasons to complain. Get ready, I’ll be coming back for more 😀 5/6 

Availability: only in Poland for now at Restauracja Tabun in Otomin. Perhaps soon in Gdynia from Afroalko, in Warsaw from Zrodlo Niebanalnych Piw i Alkoholi and in Krakow from Winnacja.

Price: a bottle of this cider was provided by Michał (Restauracja Otomin)

Axminster Craft Cider Yarlington Mill 2019

It might be November now but it is a very warm and sunny day here in Frankfurt with 15 degrees Celsius. Simply perfect for having cider! Today I’m going to review the Axminster Yarlington Mill from Devon, UK. In case you don’t remember, it is Nick Cunningham who stands behind the Axminster Craft Cider Co. As the name already indicates, the Yarlington is a single varietal cider made with chemical free, sustainably managed Yarlingtons grown in Nick’s friend 3rd generation orchard from Somerset. Let’s give it a try!

Company: Axminster Craft Cider 
Place of Origin: Axminster, Devon, UK
Apples: Yarlington Mill
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, tumbler or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep amber with a small head that slowly reduces to a ring. Low carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and slightly sweet with notes of raisins, cider apples, baked apples but also a bit chemical/phenolic. Remote notes of caramel, vanilla and butterscotch.

Taste: my first taste is moderately sweet with just a touch of acidity of lemon. Caramel, smokiness, raisins, baked apples, overripe apples, low bitterness and sweetener on the mid-palate. Finishes dry with medium astringency, butterscotch and a phenolic aftertaste.

Overall: After sampling the Axminster Craft Cider Dabinett & Sweet Coppin last year, I knew that Nick’s new cider will simply have to be good. And, it really is. After opening the bottle, the nose simply bursts out of it. The nose is very inviting and makes your mouth watery. It is clearly oxidized as you can judge from the notes of raisins and butterscotch. But it’s really lovely. After the first sip, you feel that you enter a sort of cider/caramel heaven with lovely smooth yet relatively strong tannins. The taste is long-lasting and clean without notes of funk. I enjoyed every drop of it. It’s a cider for both a cider aficionado and those who just start their cider adventure. Actually, I would dare to say that if you present a bottle of this cider to a cider newbie, I guarantee that you will turn this person to a cider lover. I would definitely buy more. 5/6  

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

Price: Nick provided me with a sample. 

Tabun Cydr z Otomina Wytrawny 2019

The 2019 vintage of Wytrawny crafted by Michał of Tabun Cydr z Otomnina, Poland is a blend of old apple varieties such as Antonovka and Rennet apples along with a few varieties of dessert apples. Last year, I sampled their 2018 vintage. I’m curious to see how the 2019 vintage may taste like. Company: Restauracja Tabun
Place of Origin: Otomin, Pomerania, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties incl. Antonovka and Rennete along with dessert  apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: wytrawny (dry)
ABV: 5,9%
Package type: 
750 ml green glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass:
 white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy golden yellow colour with a small head that reduces to a ring around the glass. Moderate carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong, literally pours out of the glass. Notes that come through are of ripe yellow apples, funk, green notes, wood and lemon. The aroma is strong at first but quickly weakens.

Taste: it starts dry with low acidity of lemon juice and lemon peel. On the mid-palate, watery with green notes, grapefruit juice, gentle off-notes from yeast and low astringency. Finishes with a refreshing touch of grapefruit.

Overall: If not a hint of wild notes and gentle off-notes coming from lees, one could think it is a lemon soft-drink with a surprisingly lingering taste. This is because the Wytrawny 2019 tastes more like a nice and refreshing citrusy spritzer, less than a cider. And this is because it, unfortunately, lacks body. I guess the proportion of dessert apples used for this blend might be just too high in my opinion. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy having the Wytrawny 2019 but I much more enjoyed Michał‘s Wytrawny Dziki 2019. I shared a bottle of the Wytrawny 2019 with a friend and she didn’t find it special either. Drinkable, pairing well with many foods but that’s it. I’m sorry, Michał. You know I like you but I have to be honest here. 3/6 

Availability: only in Poland for now at Restauracja Tabun in Otomin and from Alfroalko in Gdynia. In Warsaw from Zrodlo Niebanalnych Piw i Alkoholi and from Winnacja in Krakow.

Price: a bottle of this cider was provided by Michał (Restauracja Otomin)

Gutshof Kraatz Cydonia 2018

Quince is a quite tough fruit to work with due to its high astringency. For this reason, most fruit wine producers tend to blend it with apple juice or other fruit juice to reduce its astringency and make the fruit wine more palatable. But Florian Profitlich of Gutshof Kraatz took the risk and released a 100% quince wine made with locally sourced quinces in the Uckermark. Let’s try this beauty! 

Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Fruits: made from quinces coming from local orchards
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden yellow with no head. No visible carbonation. Body is medium. Some sediment in the bottom.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong (literally pours out of the glass) and clear with dominating notes of quince with some lemon to it.

Taste: my first taste is bone dry with a moderate acidity of lemon. Quince, some bitter note incl. grapefruit-like bitterness and moderate astringency on the mid-palate. Finishes with a lovely and refreshing note of lemon.

Overall: If you don’t have a clue how a quince may taste like, then you should definitely sample the Gutshof Kraatz Cydonia 2018. Its scent and taste are all about quince. Although the nose is very strong and intense, I didn’t get many notes on the nose apart from the note of quince and citrusy notes of lemon. The palate seems to be more complex with more variety of notes that can be identified but still quince is the dominating one. Also, it has a very good length that lets you enjoy all these flavours that come out while tasting. Again, if you compare my tasting notes with Cydonia 2016 that I sampled previously, you will find significant differences, which shows how the weather may impact the taste of cider/wine. Due to the bone-dry taste and a bit high astringency, I wouldn’t recommend to drink it on its own but to rather pair it with food. If you choose Cydonia 2018 to pair with fish, asparagus or soft cheese I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. 4.5/6    

Availability: from their online shop. In Frankfurt from Apfelweinhandlung.

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