Помме Роял (Pomme Royal) Semisweet

Semi-sweet is the second cider made by the Belarusian company Natural Products, the owner of the cider brand Помме Роял (Pomme Royal). Their Semisweet is made from autumn,  apple varieties such as Champion, Slava and Bogatyr. Previously I’ve tried their DryCompany: Pomme Royal
Place of Origin: Shumilino, Vitebsk Region, Belarus
Ingredients: natural apple wine, water, sugar, sulphites
Sweetness as per label: semisweet
ABV: 4.7%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white and quickly dissipating head. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: I can barely get anything. Only faint notes of green and yellow apples with a touch of apple must.

Taste: my first taste is sweet of sugar with a low acidity of green apples. On the mid-palate faint notes of red apple, apple juice from green apples, and light astringent taste. Finishes dry with a light note typical fo higher alcohols. 

Overall: I’m afraid I didn’t like it. The Semisweet tastes like sugary water flavoured with apples. I can’t say I can detect any notes that can be described as artificial or unpleasant, but I can barely get any notes. Also, it finishes quick leaving a faint apple taste. It could have been really interesting cider if not the high water content detectable on the palate. Also, you can tell that the sugar was added after pasteurisation as you can taste it. Unfortunately, it tastes like an alco-pop. Their Dry was much better. 2/6

Availability: widely available in Belarus, but also in a few cities in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Online available from Balashikha Duty Free and Wine Style.

Price: Anton from the Russian Dada Cider passed me a bottle when we met up in Berlin.

Czider Félédes

Do you know how Orsi from Hungarian Czider got into cider making? She got familiar with cider in London where she had lived and worked for a few years in Finance. But the breakthrough happened during a cider tasting in a bar in Budapest in 2010. Since none of the sampled ciders came from Hungary, a country with a relatively high apple production, she has decided to change it. So after several homemade ciders, she applied for an EU found ‘Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs’ and I got it. With this, Orsi has received a financial support and could go to an EU country learn a business. This is how she met Mike Johnson from the Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company who taught her everything about cider and cidermaking. In 2013, Orsi and her business partner Kata released their first cider in Budapest. Czider plans to expand and modernise the production facility so Orsi and Kata applied for an EU funding for research and development. Fingers crossed that you’ll get it!Company: Magyar Czider Kft.
Place of Origin: Vértesboglár, Fejér county, Hungary
Ingredients: a blend of three Hungarian dessert apple varieties with xylitol
ABV: 7%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale golden with a huge white foam that slowly reduces. Medium natural carbonation. Body is medium and has a creamy texture. Some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is quite strong, sweetish and fruity with notes of pears, white wine, apple stems and yellow apples.

Taste: it begins moderately sweet with a light apple seed bitterness and low acidity of lemon. Notes of white wine and champagne, light astringent taste, strawberries, red apples and apple stems on the mid-palate. The aftertaste has hints of fresh cut grass, and ethanol and something harsh once it warms up.

Overall: surprisingly Félédes (semi-sweet) tastes drier than the previously reviewed Száraz (dry). Also, it has a different set of flavours and resembles more cider this time than perry. Félédes actually tasted quite pleasant and refreshing when it was chilled but once it warmed up, a harsh flavour of alcohol and a rather unpleasant harsh note came to shine and did no good to this cider. So drink it properly chilled. Nevertheless, I would consider using other apple varieties in the blend. 3/6

Availability: directly from Czider, at various festivals, in many restaurants and bars especially in Budapest’s party district Gozsdu udvar and in Jamie’s Italian Castle Buda.

Price: Czider Félédes was a sample provided by Orsi from Czider.

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.

Cider Bohemia Barrique

When I posted the review of the Cannabis Cider from Cider Bohemia some were saying that I have to try their Barrique. I got intrigued and when the opportunity occurred I’ve purchased a bottle through a Czech online shop Opily Jabko. The Barrique is made from apples grown in the Pilsen area. After the apple juice is pressed out, it is fermented and after three months moved to new Slovenian oak barrels. Don’t know how about you but I can’t wait to try the Barrique!Company: Cider Bohemia
Place of Origin: Pilsen, Czech Republic
Apples: Czech apples from Pilsen area
Sweetness as per label: semi-sweet
ABV: 4.8%
Package type: 330 ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass of flute

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy straw yellow with a short-lived white head. Slightly sparkling. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rich and exhibits notes of ripe yellow apple and red apple, apple juice, apricot jam, peppermint with hints of vanilla, oak cask and lightly medicinal notes.

Taste: the initial taste is moderately sweet, with very low acidity. On the mid-palate crisp yellow and red apple, apple juice, elderflower, pear, vanilla, oak, a taste of oak cask and distant vinegar. It finishes dry with a distant peppermint, and a light medicinal and herbal taste to it.

Overall: indeed, the Barrique is one of the better tasting and most intriguing Czech ciders I have tried until now. It has many interesting and rare notes, has an apple-forward taste with unique and strong lingering oak cask notes in the aftertaste. However, I found the Barrique a bit too sweet to my palate, but if you prefer sweet ciders then I’m sure you’d be satisfied with this Czech cider. Summarizing, a nice cider with an extraordinary palate from Cider Bohemia. Definitely worth trying. 4/6 

Availability: at many food and farmers markets across The Czech Republic. Online from their online shop or Opily Jabko (they ship abroad!).

Price: purchased through Opily Jabko at 45 CZK (1.80 EUR)

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

Joker Cider

If you follow my blog you might have read my last post about Slavnost Cideru 2017. I promised there to review the best cider of this cider festival next. The winner of the online voting for the best cider of Slavnost cideru 2017 is Joker Cider from the Czech Republic. Not only it won the festival, Joker Cider has received the majority of votes, leaving craft cider makers far behind. Not sure how to comment on this, as Joker cider is made from apple and pear juice concentrate. Inspired by modern cider in the UK,  but made from Czech apples and pears fermented with a selected white wine yeast strain with no funk typical for French cidre. This is what you can find on their website. Scroll down for my tasting notes and overall impression.

Picture below is courtesy of @SlavnostCideru.Company: Joker Cider
Place of Origin: Kostelec nah Orlicí, Czech Republic
Apples & pears: Czech apple varieties from concentrate
Sweetness as per label: semi-sweet
ABV: 5%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. Lightly carbonated.

Aroma/Nose: smells of regular apple and pear juice with a hint typical for apple juice concentrate. This is all I am getting here.

Taste: Although they claim it’s semi-sweet, it starts very sweet, with a flavour typical for apple juice concentrate. The level of acidity is very low, which makes this cider tasting overly sweet. Most probably old apple varieties were used as there is a gentle astringency in the aftertaste along with apple and pear juice concentrate flavour. That’s it.

Overall: For my palate, Joker Cider tastes absolutely horrible. It’s a sickly sweet tasting industrial cider with flavours of apple & pear juice and terrible notes typical for apple and pear juice from concentrate. I’ve been really giving it some thought, why the majority of visitors of Slavnost Cideru 2017 could have found the Joker Cider most appealing. I see two possible explanations here. The first explanation is that the Joker Cider fits in a trend created by mass-market brands such as Somersby or Rekorderlig as the Joker Cider tastes sweet and appley with no funky flavours. Perhaps consumers look for products resembling what they already tried before. Furthermore, Joker Cider is made locally in the Czech Republic and doesn’t taste as watery, so could be considered as a local alternative to the Scandinavian mass-market brands. The second explanation is that online voting systems are often not reliable as they can be artificially manipulated. Those extremely large voting counts look slightly suspicious. Don’t you think? Anyway, if you are looking for real cider, you will not find it in a bottle of Joker Cider. 1/6 

Availability: many bars and restaurants in Prague, Brno, Liberec and other large cities in The Czech Republic.

Price: sampled at Slavnost Cideru 2017, 0.2L (25CZK =1 EUR)