Kelterei Schmidt Josche’s Apfelwein

Joschua Schmidt a.k.a. Josche, a physics student from Giessen, Hesse, have always wanted to own a meadow orchard, so-called Streuobstwiese. And, he purchased one nearly 5 years ago and started distilling his own apple brandy for his own personal use. But, since for the production of apple brandy you need apple juice pressed from ca. 200kg apples, there were always some apples left. So what to do with the apple juice that cannot be put through distillation? Obviously, Apfelwein! And, this is how the story of Josche’s Apfelwein began. Both, Josche’s Apfelbrand (German for apple brandy) and Josche’s Apfelwein are now commercially available in Gießen, Wetzlar and Linden.
Company: Kelterei Schmidt
Place of Origin: Gießen, Hesse, Germany
Apples: locally sourced apples from meadow orchards in the Gießen area
ABV: 5.6%
Package type: 330ml clear bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or Gerriptes
Bottle No: 

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no fizz and no carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong with flavours of fresh yellow apples, quince,  mirabelle plum, must, but also notes of whisky and oak with a hint of alcohol.

Taste: it starts dry with a low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate notes of yellow apples, musty notes with a light astringency. Finishes dry and quickly with notes of yellow apples and mirabelle plums.

Overall: a typical Apfelwein from Hesse is usually very tart and has no depth. One could even say that it’s dull. In terms of Josche’s Apfelwein, I would say that it’s something between typical Apfelwein and a high-class wine like those I’ve tried from Gutshof Kraatz. You can tell only by looking at the bottle and the number of produced bottles that Josche’s Apfelwein is an artisan product. It has beautiful and clear notes on the nose and on the palate, but the taste finishes quickly. Too quickly. Let me put it this way, if I had to choose between a regular Apfelwein and Josche’s Apfelwein, I would definitely go with Josche’s drop as it’s very drinkable, refreshing, pleasant, without any off-putting notes and very food friendly. But it can be better. 4/6

Availability: currently available in Gießen, Wetzlar and Linden. Also, online through Josche’s facebook page. Interestingly, you can pay with cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.

Price: Josche’s Apfelwein was provided by Josche himself.

Gutshof Kraatz Zwei Schwestern 2016

Zwei Schwestern, ‘two sisters’ in German, is an Apfelwein created by Florian from Gutshof Kraatz from Uckermark. It is a blend of two old apple varieties, which are not so common these days, Blenheim Orange and Reinette Du Canada. The first apple variety originates from Woodstock, Oxfordshire near Blenheim, UK and was first described around 1740. The second apple variety, Canadian Reinette was documented for the first time in 1771. However, it is not certain, whether it comes from Normandy, France or England. Blenheim Orange produces a sweet juice, whereas juice made from Reinette Du Canada is rather tart. Sounds like a pair of two very different yet interesting siblings.Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Apples: a blend of Blenheim Orange and Reinette Du Canada
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 8%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a  clear pale golden with no head. No signs of carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is dry and acidic with notes of freshly cut green apple, light lemon, a light vinous note, a hint of ripe cantaloupe melon and mirabelle plums.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a touch of sweet with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate lingering freshly cut green apple, yellow apples, light ripe cantaloupe melon, mirabelle plum, light astringent taste, gentle bitterness and a light hint of alcohol. It finishes also dry with a green apple note, some lemon and a slightly chalky taste.

Overall: Zwei Schwestern is a very refreshing and pleasant Apfelwein. Rich, complex and nicely balanced with notes of lemon and of green freshly cut apple. A tasty combination of tart and green notes make it very drinkable. Also, lingering notes of mirabelle plums and cantaloupe melon make it even more exciting. I liked it and I think it would greatly complement any food such as cheese, pasta or white meat. Not as divine as my favourite Wilde Kerle 2016 but still a very pleasant drop. Worth trying. 4/6

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

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

Obsthof am Steinberg Goldparmäne Alte Bäume 2014

Imagine an apple orchard with over hundred different, mainly old and rare apple varieties, where over fifty of them are used for the production of a fine Apfelwein, which is even served in Michelin-starred restaurants. Would you like to try such Apfelwein? Who wouldn’t! Today I have the pleasure of sampling the Goldparmäne Alte Bäume 2014 produced by Andreas Schneider of Obsthof am Steinberg in Nieder-Erlenbach, Hesse, Germany.
Company: Andreas Schneider/Obsthof am Steinberg
Place of Origin: Frankfurt / Nieder-Erlenbach, Hesse, Germany
Apples: single varietal from organic King of the Pippins
ABV: 5%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: a beautiful bouquet with an array of overripe and fermented apples, apricot and wood with gentle funky notes of barnyard and leather. The nose makes me think of French cidre. Very inviting.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with medium lemon-like acidity. The mid-palate has notes of caramel, apricot, red ripe apples, some smokiness and a gentle oaky taste with a moderate astringency on the tongue. The aftertaste has apricots, a gentle white wine note and a hint of grapefruit-like bitterness.

Overall: It’s hard to believe that this is a single varietal Apfelwein. It’s so rich and wonderfully balanced. The nose reminds me of French Cidre, but the taste apart from Cidre also has notes typical of English style cider, so it tastes like a meeting of English and French cider. Andreas squeezed out every drop and every possible taste of this apple variety. Really amazing! What I found surprising is that the Goldparmäne has no bitterness typical for this apple variety. Summarizing, the Goldparmäne is a sophisticated, but still easily drinkable Apfelwein that can be served instead of dessert wine. It could be slightly less sweet though, but it’s my personal preference. 5/6

Availability: at their farm and from Apfelweinkontor.

Price: purchased online from Apfelweinkontor at 12.50 EUR.

Gutshof Kraatz Wilde Kerle 2016

Wilde Kerle, meaning Wild Buddies or Wild Things (if referring to Maurice Sendak’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’) in German, is an Apfelwein from Gutshof Kraatz made entirely from German wild apple varieties, rich in tannins adding astringency and/or bitterness and complexity to Apfelwein or cider. It is not an easy task for Florian from Gutshof Kraatz to find wild apples. Once he finds an apple tree growing somewhere in the wild he marks the tree location and has to return to the spot at an optimal harvest date. Sometimes Florian has to even tear through bushes to collect wild apples for the Wilde Kerle. Apart from that, apple trees growing in the wild account for the relatively small size of the fruits and low fruit yields compared to the regular orchards. Bear that in mind next time you open a bottle of Wild Kerle from Gutshof Kraatz.Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Apples: made from wild apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 8%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

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

Aroma/Nose: the nose exhibits notes of white wine, red overripe apples, yellow apples, fresh sweet juicy apples, baked apples with pear. The aroma is rounded up by underlying notes of caramel and vanilla.

Taste: it starts dry with a minor residual sweetness and medium lemon-like acidity with a light tartness. The mid-palate has a low astringent taste, which smoothly moves to a smoky note, overripe apples, baked apples with vanilla and a vinous note. Wilde Kerle leaves a lovely extremely long lingering aftertaste of caramel, light apple seed-like bitterness and lightly burnt caramel-like bitterness.

Overall: Florian’s great efforts to obtain wild apples definitely paid off. Wilde Kerle tastes simply glorious! Already the first sip gave the wow effect. Not to mention oohing and aahing after every other sip. Wilde Kerle is not-entirely dry with low residual sweetness, full-bodied with perfectly balanced multiple types of apple flavours, which move smoothly from one to another. Also, its lovely lingering aftertaste seems to never end. Hence, this Apfelwein is just perfect for slowly sipping. Would pair well with any type of cheese. Taken together, Wilde Kerle is an excellent Apfelwein that will please every (even picky) palate. I will surely get more of this one. 5.5/6

Availability: from their online shop, CiderWorld Shop (a new name for Apfelwein International). In Frankfurt from Apfelweinkontor and Apfelweinhandlung. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in Markthalle Neun. In Poland through Vinoteka in Szczecin.

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

Nöll Premium Cox Orange

Karl Nöll and his son Gerhard have established the Nöll Kelterei (German for cidery) in 1962. However, the Nöll family has been making apfelwein much longer than this as the apfelwein-making is part of a family tradition in Frankfurt/Main area and 1962 is only the year when it went to the commercial stage. They have a few apfelwein categories. The Apfelwein I am sampling today belongs to the Premium range.

Company: Kelterei Gerhard Böll GmbH 
Place of Origin: Frankfurt/Main, Hesse, Germany
Apples: made from Cox Orange Pippin
ABV: 9%
Package type: 750ml green glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear straw yellow with no head and almost no carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: On the nose overripe apples with a hint of white wine and wood. I can sense also floral and sweet notes with a touch of alcohol. The scent resembles slightly English cider.

Taste: Surprisingly, it starts very bitter with some sweetness, which I would classify as medium. On the mid-palate, some light smoky ham taste, but only in the beginning with a moderate slightly lemon-like acidity and a hint of white wine and overripe apples. The aftertaste has lingering bitter flavour with alcohol taste and gives a warming effect in the throat. The bitter taste gets milder after a while but is still dominating.

Overall: I am a huge fan of bitter flavours in cider, but the bitter taste in this apfelwein overpowers other flavours. In my opinion, the intensive bitter taste would indicate that this apfelwein was left too long on its lees. Moreover, I had ciders before that had the ABV of 8% and alcohol was not perceivable at all. Most probably sugar was added to increase the ABV, which is not an uncommon practice for German Apfelwein. Nöll’s Cox Orange is complex and rich, but just not balanced. This is a common problem with single varietal ciders. They are rarely perfect.  I think that Nöll’s Cox Orange is worth trying and may appeal to some but I wouldn’t purchase it again. It’s too unbalanced with too many off flavours. 2/6

Availability: from their online shop, Apfelweinkontor. Locally in InCiderbar in Prague.

Price: purchased online from Apfelweinkontor at 8 EUR.




Gutshof Kraatz Schöner von Boskoop 2013

German apfelwein from Gutshof Kraatz, which I am sampling today is quite unusual as it comes from Uckermark located in the northeastern Germany. Uckermark is not really associated with the tradition of apfelwein like other German regions, such as Hesse or Swabia. However, there is a logical explanation to this. In the 1930ties Christian Kaufmann, who established the cidery, moved from Swabia to Uckermark and introduced the traditional Swabian cider to the local community with great success.Gutshof Kraatz_Boskoop 2013.jpgCompany: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Apples: made from a single old apple variety Belle de Boskoop
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a crystal clear, golden amber body with no head. No carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: on the nose, there are floral notes with overripe apples and some pears. I can also sense mild and sweet honey notes with some kind of spiciness. Also, very distant sulphur. Overall, the aroma resembles more wine than cider.

Taste: this apfelwein is medium dry as some residual sugar is perceivable. There is also a moderate lemon-like acidity, which is still within a palatable range. The medium palate has overripe apples, apple peel, and apple flesh. Furthermore, I can taste citrus notes with some spiciness. The aftertaste is lingering and dry and has gentle bitter and astringent notes with a minimal touch of alcohol.

Overall: My experience with German apfelwein/cider wasn’t the best so far. But I think this apfelwein can be a sort of breakthrough. Boskoop has a really nicely balanced moderate acidity. Good structure and complexity. Imagine biting into a juicy apple but instead of sourness and sweetness, you taste pleasant moderate acidity and dryness. But it doesn’t taste like apple juice at all. This is quite rare. Great apfelwein! 4.5/6

Availability: good question. Gutshof Kraatz has their own online shop but apart from that, I think only locally in Uckermark. Gutshof Kratz’s apfelwein should be also available through Apfelweinkontor.

Price: purchased locally from Anna Vom Feld in Berlin (7.9 EUR). They closed recently.

Höhl Blauer Bock Urtyp Fruchtig

Today I am reviewing a traditional German Apfelwein from Frankfurt am Rhein area.

Blauer Bock.jpg

Company: Landkelterei Höhl Hochstadt
Place of Origin: Maintal-Hochstadt, Hessen, Germany
Apples: a blend of apples of old German varieties such as Jakob Lebel, Ingrid Marie, Baumanns Renette, Schöner von Nordhausen, Goldparmäne, which are slowly fermented
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 1L amber glass bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or Geripptes 

Appearance: pours a clear, golden body with no head. No signs of carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: not too complex and not quite aromatic. Low to the moderate aroma. On the nose, there are apples, tart apples with some distinct sulphuric notes.

Taste: the taste is dominated by tart apples. Blauer Bock is very tart, tastes like lemon juice combined with apples. No residual sugar, dry to the bone. There are light bitter yeasty notes on the palate. The finish is dry and slightly astringent notes are perceivable in the aftertaste.

Overall: Blauer Bock is a commercial Apfelwein. Apfelwein is a typical companion of heavy and hearty dishes such as pork knuckles. Hence, high acid load present in the Blauer Bock will do the job and improve digestion. It might be also refreshing on a hot sunny day in the summer. But if you are looking for a beverage that will blow your mind with complexity and structure I would strongly advise trying other Apfelwein. 2.5/6

Availability: Quite broad in Germany at supermarkets such as REWE or Getränke Hoffman. And, everywhere in the Frankfurt-am-Main region.

Price: bought locally at Getränke Hoffmann in Berlin for 2.25 EUR.