Abavas Rabarberu Dzirkstvīns Brut

When Jana contacted me to ask if I’d like to try the products of Abavas, one of the largest family-owned wine producers in Latvia, she advertised their Rabarberu Dzirkstvīns Brut by saying that their sparkling wine made from rhubarb completely sold out within a few hours after launching in the German online store Wine in Black. Indeed, when I checked the website, all I could see at the time was ‘AUSVERKAUFT’ – sold out. I was very intrigued by this fact and couldn’t wait to try it! Company: SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”
Place of Origin: 
Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia
Ingredients: 
rhubarb
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 12%
Package type: 750ml champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a reddish hue and a short-lived white head. High natural carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: I didn’t even have to take a sniff. I could get a strong rhubarb, light cannabis note although the glass was 30 cm away.  Also, the aroma is lightly sweet.

Taste: the first sip is dry and alcoholic, but the alcohol note gets weaker with time. Only low acidity, a rhubarb stem with a lightly salty note, cannabis and vinous note and delicate astringency. Finishes dry leaving a long and lightly acidic aftertaste with lingering notes of rhubarb stem and leaves and a light astringent note.

Overall: Abavas has one of the most beautiful bottles, labels and corks. So their Rabarberu Dzirkstvins Brut already by looking at the bottle makes an impression of a really special high-end wine. And, the bottle content is unique indeed. The aroma literally pours out of the glass. Actually, I could get the aroma from the distance of 30cm. I checked! Also, it’s refreshing, complex and nicely structured palate lingers on and on. If only the alcoholic note at the start, which I found quite disturbing, weren’t that strong. But if you put this note aside you get an absolutely brilliant wine with an exceptional aroma and length. Interestingly, if you are a cannabis fan you may even pick up a cannabis note. Seriously! The more I drink it the more I love it. No wonder it sold out that fast. 4.5/6 

Availability: in Germany from Wine in Black (back in stock!) and Foodist, in Tallinn from Siidrimaja, in Finland from ALKO, in Latvia from Spirit & Wines, in the Netherlands from CiderCider, in Belgium from Cideris, in Russia in Redrum Bar in St. Petersburg. In Italy from Compagnia dei Caraibi.

Price: Rabarberu Dzirkstvins Brut was a sample provided to Cider Explorer

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TOPA Cidre Brut Basque

Today I would like to introduce you a French cidre from the French Basque Country, TOPA. The word ‘TOPA’ is derived from a Basque word ‘topaketa’, which means ‘a meeting”. A meeting of two entrepreneurs and cidre lovers, Gregoire Tulasne and Pascal Moret who in 2016 decided to give the traditional Basque beverage a modern and refreshing twist. Their TOPA is a blend of untreated traditional Basque apple varieties such as Urteby, Txalaka, Anisa or Goikoetxea that were slowly fermented at low temperatures for over 4 months. But don’t expect a typical sagardoa here, a cider typical for the Basque Country as TOPA was designed to be more aromatic, less acidic and less bitter than the Basque counterpart. Company: TOPA
Place of Origin: Bidart, French Basque Country, France
Apples: a blend of 9 untreated apple varieties such as Urteby, Txalaka, Anisa or Goikoetxea
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 750ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass, snifter or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a rather clear deep orange with no foam. Lightly sparkling. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rather weak with aromas of yellow apples, vanilla, light orange with a light hint of smoke. No vinegar.

Taste: the first sip is light to moderately sweet with a fairly low acidity. Subsequently, it gets a bit watery with a taste of an orange lemonade. Then the medium astringent taste, vanilla with yellow apples remind you that you’re actually drinking cider. Aroma of orange, caramel with a light touch of grapefruit, very distant alcohol and butter in the fairly long aftertaste.

Overall: recently, I realised that drinking cider from a beautiful bottle like the one TOPA is served from, elevates the drinking pleasure. Cider is made like wine and should be served like wine. Anyway, the content of the gorgeous TOPA bottle doesn’t disappoint. It has a typical orangy flavour so you can tell that it was made from the Basque apple varieties although typical features such as vinegar and yeasty taste are missing. The palate is rich and although in the beginning, you get the impression you’re drinking an orange lemonade, the taste develops and further lovely tastes of tannins, vanilla and caramel appear providing a strong evidence that this is a cider that you’re actually drinking. The nose could be more intense. And it is the only component that could be improved. It was a true pleasure drinking this cidre and I would love to have it again. A delicious Basque cidre for everyone. It will pair well with any type of food. 4.5/6

Availability: from their online shop or selected restaurants, bars in France. In Paris from Pomze; in Marseille from Bibovino; in Anglet from Bière En StockLe Chai de l’Adour , Vignobles et Découvertes and Mandion; In the Netherlands from Appels en Peren. Click here for the full list of stockists.

Price: TOPA Cidre Brut Basque was a sample provided by Gregoire from TOPA.

Les Vergers de Ducy/Domaine de la Flaguerie Cidre Brut

Domaine de la Flaguerie is a family-run business based in Ducy-Sainte-Marguerite, southeast of Bayeux in Normandy. Apart from cider they also produce Pommeau, Calvados and apple juice. Domaine de la Flaguerie is open to visitors so if you are in the area don’t forget to pay them a visit!Company: Domaine de la Flaguerie
Place of Origin: Ducy-Sainte-Marguerite, Normandy, France
Apples: cider apples
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 5%
Package type: 750ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: white wine or flute

Appearance: pours a cloudy orange with a large foam, which only slowly reduces to a ring. High carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: overripe apples, bitter-sweet apples with barnyard and vinegar on the nose. The aroma is strong and very pleasant

Taste: the first sip was moderately sweet with low acidity. Followed by a grapefruit-bitterness with notes of overripe apples, mild vinegar, medium to high astringency. It finishes with a light, lingering bitter taste and a flavour of wood.

Overall: the acetic note in a French cidre is a surprise as this note is usually a desirable flavour in Spanish sidras, not in French cidre. Hence, the cidre from Domaine de la Flaguerie is like French cidre meets Spanish sidra. Also, I think that the vinegary note adds a refreshing twist. I enjoyed having it. 4.5/6 

Availability: online from CiderLab. In Germany from Weindepot-Schenck.

Price: purchased online from CiderLab at 6.15 EUR

Abavas Premium Brut

Premium Brut from Latvian Abavas is produced from three Latvian apple varieties. After pressing, the juice is fermented at low temperatures for eight months. I guess their efforts paid off since Premium Brut from Abavas has picked up the Pomme d’Or from the prestigious Apfelwein International 2017 in Frankfurt.

Company: SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”
Place of Origin: 
Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia
Apples: 
a blend of three Latvian apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 8.5%
Package type: 750ml wine bottle with natural cork
Recommended type of glass: flute or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a short-lived white head. High carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and vinous with notes of yellow apple, crisp green apple, and oak. In the background light green notes.

Taste: the initial taste is dry with a moderate lemon-like acidity. On the mid-palate lightly watery and vinous with notes of green apple, apple stems, a lightly smoky note with a subtle astringent taste. The finish is dry and a bit chalky with a lingering touch of lemon, crisp green apple with ripe yellow apple and distant bitterness.

Overall: a refreshing balanced acidity with a broad palate make the Premium Brut indeed to a premium product. Not to mention the beautiful bottle. Similarly to the previously reviewed Abolu Vins Sausais it tastes more like a quality sparkling white wine made from white grapes with pleasant and refreshing notes of fresh apples. Since the Premium Brut is not too dry it can be appreciated by a wider audience. A very pleasant pour to celebrate. 4.5/6 

Availability: in Finland from ALKO, in Sweden from all System Bolaget shops, In Belgium from Cideris, in the Netherlands from CiderCider, and in Latvia from Spirit & Wines.

Price: Premium Brut was a sample sent by Abavas.

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.
Company:
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.

Guzman Riestra Sidra Brut Nature

I love reading stories like this. The history of Guzman Riestra stretches back to 1906 when Robustiano Riestra made a cider press from, most likely, a eucalyptus tree. Robustiano’s goal was to make sidra and sell it in a store he owned in Gijón. Over the years, the cidery has seen many transformations. It expanded, the facilities were modernized and new sidras were introduced. When Guzman Riestra took over the management in 1985 ‘Guzman’ was added to the name of the cidery. Sons of Guzman,  Raúl and Ruben, have been in charge of the company since 1985 experimenting and setting new trends in the Spanish cider world.

Today’s review is on their Brut Nature, introduced in 2012, made using Methode Champenoise, a rather unusual technique for Spanish sidra.Company: Guzman Riestra
Place of Origin: Barrio de Perea, Sariego, Asturias, Spain
Apples: apples coming from local orchards
ABV: 8%
Package type: 750ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass:  flute, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white frothy head that quickly dissipates. High carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rich and sweetish with notes of oak, vinegar, juicy apple, red apple and candy. In the background notes of funk and leather.

Taste: it starts dry with low residual sweetness and moderately acidic with a flavour of crisp apple, lemon juice and only distant vinegar. The mid-palate has red ripe juicy apples, a medium astringent taste and a smoky note with blood orange and grapefruit peel. In the aftertaste, a delicate grapefruit-like bitterness appears leaving a lingering chalky taste.

Overall: Sidra Brut Nature from Guzman Riestra has an exceptionally sophisticated and balanced palate full of refreshing citrus fruits and ripe apples. Every sip reveals a new taste and is like an in-depth exploration of many layers of flavours. It’s like French Champagne meets Spanish sidra. Dry and citrusy refreshing with some residual sweetness will appeal to larger audiences. Perfect for any kind of celebration. I would buy more. 4.5/6

Availability: through Sidra.Shop, Sidra y Sidras, Disbealsan. In the Netherlands from Cider Cider.

Price: purchased online from Ciderwinkel. It was one of the sidras in the Spanish discovery box.

 

Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut Tendre 2014

When you look up the term ‘sydre’ or ‘sidre’, which is an old French name for cidre, you will get many hits, but all associated with one name, Eric Bordelet. Eric Bordelet turned to cider in 1992 when he decided to quit his job as a sommelier at Paris’s three Michelin star Arpège to take over an apple orchard in the south of Normandy that belonged for generations to his family. His goal was to produce a sydre/sidre in exactly the same manner as wine is produced.

In the manufacturing process of Sydre Brut Tendre apples are pressed right after milling and subsequently fermented. Bordelet’s Sydre is racked off many times to slow down the fermentation process and to clear-up. Then Sydre is bottled without the addition of sugar and matured. Let’s try this beauty!
Company: Eric Bordelet
Place of Origin: 
Charchigné, Normandy, France
Apples: 
organic cidre apples (20 apple varieties are grown on the farm)
Sweetness as per label: 
brut
ABV: 4%
Package type: 750ml amber glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with light amber hues and a small frothy head. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is sweetish and rich with notes of red apples, baked apples, fermented apples, dried fruits, raisins, oak, apricot and cinnamon.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with low lemon-like acidity. The mid-palate has notes of red apples, oak, smoked cheese, cinnamon with a hint of lightly burnt caramel-like bitterness with baked apples and apple seeds. In the aftertaste lightly burnt plum jam, powidl, gentle tannins with a bit of cinnamon and slightly acidic touch. All of a sudden, a note of freshly pressed apple juice appears. 

Overall: Eric Bordelet’s Sidre Tendre Brut tastes simply amazing and can be a crowd pleaser. It’s not too sweet but still, it tastes almost like ice cider or dessert wine. It has a nice level of acidity to it balancing out the sweetness.  Also, the aftertaste is amazing and extremely long. When you think it is gone, it strikes again and goes on and on. It is really different to French cidres I have tried so far but still goes down easily. Would I have it again? Perhaps not every day, but I can see myself celebrating my birthday or New Year’s Eve with this one. Remarkable! Would pair excellently with goat cheese. 5/6

Availability: very broad. In Berlin through Lager Lager or at Nobelhart & Schmutzig. Online in Germany from Weinzeche, Vino CentralABC-Wines or Weinhandlung Kreis. In Belgium from Bieres Gourmet. In Switzerland from Globus or Galaxus. In Norway through Vinmonopolet. In the UK from Uvinum. In Spain from Vinos Cutanda. In France from La Grande Epicerie. And many more.

Price: purchased from Weinzeche ta 9.90 EUR.