Mūrbūdu Zaļš 2018 Sausais Jaunsidrs

Zaļš, green in Latvian is my next cider made by Paul from Mūrbūdu after their Pussauss Abolu Sidrs.Company: Mūrbūdu Sidra Darītava
Place of Origin: Ērģemes pagasts, Valkas novads, “Klētnieki”, Latvia
Apples a blend of local apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 4.6%
Package type: 
330ml amber glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: 
wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a little head that quickly dissipates. Low carbonation.  Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is intense and fruity with notes of ripe yellow apples and apple skin with baked apples and vanilla biscuit/cake.

Taste: my first taste is dry, watery of medium to high acidity of lemon. Lemon taste and acidity linger on. Finishes dry with a note of lemon, a touch of green apple and mirabelle plums. 

Overall: the scent is lovely, very fruity and apple-y. It’s really exceptionally rich and beautiful. So, you obviously get hungry for more. But what you actually get is quite disappointing. Taste-wise, I didn’t get much apart from a quite high acidity of lemon and a watery taste. One can tell that Paul is skilled in the art judging by a fantastic scent but the taste was rather average and it wasn’t enough to call this cider good. It would go well with food such as chicken, veal or fish. 3/6

Availability: in around 60 bars and restaurants in Riga incl. Spirits and Wine, Folkklubs Ala, Trompete Taproom, Kanepes Kulturas Centrs, Radisson Hotel and Laska Bar.

Price: Zaļš 2018 Cidre verde. Sausais Jaunsidrs. Pētnieku sērija Nr. 01. was a sample provided by Paul from Mūrbūdu.

Abavas Ābolu Vīns Pussaldais

Ābolu Vīns Pussaldais is a semi-sweet apple wine created by Abavas, a cider maker from Latvia. As advertised by Abavas, Ābolu Vīns Pussaldais is made from selected Latvian apples, which are pressed and subsequently slowly fermented at low temperatures.

Company: SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”
Place of Origin: 
Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia
a blend of selected Latvian apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: semi-sweet
ABV: 12%
Package type: 500ml clear glass wine bottle with natural cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

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

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is fruity and vinous with notes of raisins, watermelon, stone fruits and guava.

Taste: my first taste is moderately sweet of plain sugar with a light acidity of lemon.  Notes of yellow apples, guava, lychee, cantaloupe melon and some raisins on the mid-palate. In the finish, a biting taste of alcohol with a light bitter note and the lingering sweetness of sugar.

Overall: there are many sweet ciders that taste phenomenal. I’m sorry to say that Abavas’ Semi-Sweet doesn’t belong to this group. I didn’t enjoy the lingering sweetness of plain sugar with fruity notes of guava and lemon. Also, there was a biting touch of alcohol with other harsh notes towards the end, which I thought were very disturbing. Overall, drinking this apple wine was like listening to a slightly unsynchronised music band. Great musicians who didn’t find a musical connection with each other. I’m sorry, Martins, but your semi-sweet apple wine was one of the weakest offerings from your line-up that. 2.5/6 

Availability: in the Netherlands from CiderCider, and in Latvia from Spirit & Wines.

Price: Ābolu Vīns Pussaldais was a sample provided by Abavas.

Abavas Apple Cider Medium

It wasn’t Australia or France, as it is in many cases, that inspired Mārtiņš Barkāns to make cider. It was his honeymoon in the beautiful Toscana in Italy that made him want to produce wine in Latvia. Exactly, wine from grapes, not cider. But since it can take up to three years or even longer to establish a grapevine plantation that can make the first vintage, Mārtiņš’s focus turned in the meantime to fruit wines. Surprisingly, making cider, apple wine and wine from various fruits became Abavas’ core business and today cider makes an important part of their product portfolio.

Today I’m sampling Abavas’ Apple Cider Medium, made from selected Latvian apple varieties and matured 8 months at low temperatures. Previously I’ve tried their Ābolu Vīns Sausais, Premium Brut and Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple.

Company: SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”
Place of Origin: 
Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia
a blend of selected Latvian apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 750ml amber glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a massive short-lived white head. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and lightly vinous with notes of yellow apple, melon, guava and some fresh sawdust.

Taste: it begins moderately sweet with a moderate crisp acidity of lemon. The taste moves then to light notes of fresh sawdust and ripe yellow apples, lingering overripe yellow apples, light tropical fruits of melon, some pear and a light vinous note. It finishes dry with a lingering lemon candy acidity, some distant bitterness with notes of grapefruit, light herbal notes in the aftertaste and a touch of alcohol.

Overall: Abavas Apple Cider Medium comes in a champagne bottle, which suggests that that the cider maker thought it tastes best at higher carbonation level. I have to disagree. When I poured it into a champagne glass, I thought it tasted average. But when I let it stay for a couple of minutes and tried again, I thought I’m drinking a completely different cider. I found it then very elegant, fruity, apple flavour driven, not overly sweet with a beautiful long finish. I enjoyed their Apple Cider Medium, but I think that high carbonation level is a disservice to this cider. Overall, a very drinkable and tasty cider that is best to consume a few minutes from opening. But I encourage you to make your own opinion about Abavas’ Apple Cider Medium. 4.5/6 

Availability: in Finland from ALKO. In Belgium from Cideris, in the Netherlands from CiderCider, and in Latvia from Spirit & Wines.

Price: Apple Cider Medium was a sample provided by Abavas.

Note: Abavas will attend the craft cider concept exhibition – “same but different” at ProWein in Düsseldorf in March 2018.

Abavas Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple

Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple by Abavas from Latvia is another example of the growing hopped cider trend. Hopped Apple is a blend of Cortland, Antonovka, Pelsamee and  Serinka, locally grown apple varieties with Citra hops. Each apple variety is fermented separately and subsequently matured in stainless steel vats. After 5-6 months, cider is blended and hops are added. It takes another 2 months until cider is filtered, carbonated and bottled. And, ready to drink.Company: SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”
Place of Origin: 
Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia
Cortland, Antonovka, Pelsamee, Serinka and Citra hops
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 750ml amber glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with green hues and white short-lived foam. High carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has a citrusy freshness. Also, it smells fruity with notes of lemon, green mango, elderflower, passion fruit, lychee, yellow and green apples, all rounded up by distant herbal hoppy notes.

Taste: the first sip has a touch of sweetness with a low to medium acidity of lemon. The mid-palate bursts with passion fruit, lychee, elderflower, lemon juice, green unripe mango, yellow apples, and a light astringent taste, and brightened by green hoppy notes with delicate grapefruit. It has a dry and clean finish with a gentle lingering astringent taste and notes of green unripe mango, white grapes and light flavour of lemon candy. No bitterness.

Overall: I’m a cider purist and so not a fan of hopped cider. But after sampling the Hopped Apple from Abavas I guess I will have to think it over. Hopped Apple already opens with inviting citrusy and fruity aromas raising one’s curiosity. Fruity, rich, with many delicious notes. And, with your first taste, you hear angels sighing and I’m not exaggerating. A gentle combination of green unripe mango with yellow and green apples makes this cider decidedly moreish. With this cider, Martins from Abavas has shown real craftsmanship. As it’s a true skill to add just the right amount of hops, not to destroy the cider but complement it. It’s official, the Hopped Apple from Abavas is a cider with the wow effect. Fantastic cider that will please every cider purist, including myself. And, a must try for a cider lover. Pure heaven! 5.5/6 

Availability: in Germany from Foodist and Jörn Weinshop. In Finnland from ALKO, in Sweden from System Bolaget, in Latvia from Spirit & Wines, in the Netherlands from CiderCider, in Belgium from Cideris, in Italy from Compagna dei Caraibi.

Price: Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple was a sample 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.