Dunkertons Court Royal

Dunkertons like to experiment with single varietal ciders. Previously, I’ve tried their brilliant single varietal Breakwells Seedling. This time, however, I’m about to sample their Court Royal. Court Royal is a sweet cider apple with low tannin and low acid, which originated in East Devon.
Company: 
Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single-varietal Court Royal from organic farms
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white short-lived head. Medium carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has still fermenting apples, fresh yellow apples, lightly acidic. some green apple. The nose is not so strong.

Taste: it starts medium dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate green and yellow apples with a smoky and vinous note. The aftertaste has hints of fresh green and yellow apples, apple skin of green apples with a light biting taste of alcohol and a touch of bitterness.

Overall: briefly, the Court Royal tastes like a flavourful cross between cider made from eating apples and traditional cider. Meaning it’s easily drinkable, light yet very refreshing and absolutely not boring. Taste wise perhaps not extremely rich, but it still has a nice depth and structure for a single-varietal cider. The nose is not strong but is clear and full of apple aromas. The Royal Court is a cider for everyone and will taste great on a day like this with lots of sunshine. I assure you it will uplift your mood after a bad day at work as well. I’d like t to have it again. 4/6

Availability: broad in the UK through BristolCiderShop or Beers of Europe. However, outside the UK the availability is limited in the Netherlands to Ciderwinkel and Appels en Peren. In Switzerland from Ciderhouse.ch. In Estonia from Siidirimaja. In Germany to CiderKultur.

Price: Dunkertons Court Royal was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

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Dunkertons Breakwells Seedling

There is a constantly rising trend of organic foods, beers and wines in the market around the world, but also of organic ciders. And, Dunkertons is one of the few British cider makers producing cider from organic cider apples. More than that, Dunkertons were one of the first to introduce organic farming to the apple orchards in Herefordshire. It was in 1988, long before the boom begun.

Today I give you Dunkertons Breakwells Seedling, a single-varietal cider made form  Breakwells Seedling, an apple variety that was discovered at Perthyre Farm, Monmouth, Wales over a century ago.Company: Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single varietal from Breakwells Seedling from organic farms.
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with faint orange hue and a large, white short-lived foam, which leaves a white ring around the glass. Medium carbonation. Low to medium body. There is some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is tannic and sweetish with lovely notes of juicy red apples and a hint of apple juice. Also, I can get wild notes, beeswax, leather, distant acetic note and nail polish.

Taste: the first sip is medium dry of caramel with a moderate acidity of lemon. Strong astringent taste and bitterness on the mid-palate followed by notes of nail polish, vinegar, barnyard, smoked cheese, red apples, grapefruit and a light watery flavour. It finishes dry with lingering astringent notes and a hint of grapefruit-bitterness with red apples. Alcohol is well hidden despite the high ABV of 7.5%.

Overall: Dunkerton’s Breakwells Seedling Cider is a cider that every cider lover needs to try as it tastes simply extraordinary. The combination of strong tannins, wild notes and flavours of fruity, crisp yet sweet and juicy red apples with citrus notes is simply mind-blowing and make this cider suitable for every palate. However, it’s a cider to sip at a slow pace rather and than drinking without stopping. I think that the Breakwells Seedling is another masterpiece from Dunkertons’ apart from Black Fox that I tried earlier. To be honest, I wouldn’t tell that the Breakwells Seedling is a single-varietal cider. So yes, I would definitely buy it again! 5/6

Availability: from their online shopbroad in the UK Bristol Cider Shop, Beers of Europe,  Abel&ColeCrumpton Hill Farm Shop,  However, outside the UK the availability is rather limited to CiderKultur in Germany, Ciderwinkel and Appels en Peren in the Netherlands, Opily Jabko and Dobry Cider in the Czech Republic. In Switzerland from Ciderhouse.ch. In Estonia from Siidirimaja. In Copenhagen from Holm Cider.

Price: Dunkertons Breakwells Seedling was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Sheppy’s Falstaff

Sheppy’s, a cider maker from Somerset, usually blends typical cider apple varieties with eating apples. But cider I am sampling today is a single varietal cider made only from Falstaff. Falstaff is an eating apple, which was developed by the East Malling Research, UK in 1965 and is claimed to be popular in the UK. This apple cultivar is a hybrid of Golden Delicious, and James Grieve producing crisp, sweet and juicy red apples. Previously I’ve tried their Somerset Traditional Cider and Somerset Oak Matured Vintage 2015, both created for Marks &  and their Dabinett.Company: Sheppy’s
Place of Origin: 
Taunton, Somerset, UK
Apples: 
single varietal, made from Falstaff
Sweetness as per label: 
medium sweet
ABV:
 5.6%
Package type:
500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:
pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with no head. Lightly sparkling. Also, the body is light.

Aroma/Nose: smells of sulphur, lots of it. Other notes include sweet red apples with red apple skins, pears and elderflower. Rather unpleasant due to dominating sulfur notes.

Taste: it begins sweet but less sweet than I would expect from a medium sweet cider.  Tastes little watery with low to medium lemon-like acidity. Notes of red apples with a light smoky taste on the mid-palate. In the aftertaste, I pick up a gentle astringent taste, a note of red apples with a touch of bitterness.

Overall: Briefly, Sheppy’s Falstaff tastes like a slightly watery fizzy apple lemonade. I would say that it tasted just average. Perhaps because Falstaff is an eating apple, not a cider apple, but I have had many ciders made from eating apples, which tasted far much better than the Falstaff. And, this unpleasant note of sulphur appearing once you open the bottle. Like matches. Summarizing, if you want your cider on the light and lemonade side, this cider is for you. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Sheppy’s Falstaff. 2.5/6 

Availability: very broad. In the UK from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s or Booth’s, online from Beers of Europe, eebria, dike and son, Beer Ritz. In Germany online from ciderhofbanneke, gourvinodrinks of the world, Weinkontor Goldene Krone. Locally in Karstadt, Getränke Hoffman, Galeria Kaufhof or Kadewe.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from Getränke Hoffman at 2.99 EUR.

Ross-on-Wye Ashton Brown Jersey

Ashton Brown Jersey is a relatively young cider apple variety grown at the National Fruit and Cider Institute, Long Ashton, Bristol in 1903. It’s a cider apple with hard tannins producing full-bodied medium bittersweet cider. Ashton Brown Jersey is not often found as a single variety, it’s rather used as part of a blend.

Ashton Brown Jersey is my first cider from the multi-award winning cider producer from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, the Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company.Company: Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company
Place of Origin: Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: single varietal, from Ashton Brown Jersey
ABV: 6.2%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with plastic screw cup
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Note: no sulphites, unpasteurised

Appearance: pours a hazy golden with orange hues and a white short-lived head. Medium to high carbonation. Body is low. Some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is acidic and wild with notes of barnyard, beeswax, grapefruit, orange, light sulphur and a hint of red apples and vinegar.

Taste: the first sip is slightly sweet with a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate a strong watery note with a touch of smoke, a moderately astringent taste, hint of sulphur and a distant acetic note. It finishes dry, citrusy and crisp with notes of grapefruit, blood orange, a touch of grapefruit flesh-like bitterness and a hint of beeswax. It gets more bitter the more you drink it.

Overall: as mentioned in the introduction part, Ashton Brown Jersey is a cider apple variety that is almost always blended with other cider apples. You don’t see many cider producers launching single varietal cider with Ashton Brown Jersey. After tasting this cider I can see why. It lacks body, the initial taste is fruity but rather unexciting with a strong watery flavour. Also, I didn’t pick up any apple flavour here. But the taste improves with every sip towards pleasant and refreshing notes of citruses including grapefruit and blood orange. So I can imagine it would taste lovely once it gets warm outside again. Overall, the Ashton Brown Jersey is worth trying. Also, if you’re looking for a lighter cider then I think it’s a good option. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop.

Price: Ross-on-Wye’s Ashton Brown Jersey was a donation from Phil of Pulp Craft Cider who I met up with at the Manchester Cider Festival 2018.

Ramborn Kingston Black

No, Kingston Black is not an apple variety typical for Luxembourg. Kingston Black comes actually from Kingston, near Taunton, Somerset, the UK and produces a bittersharp juice, which is just splendid for making cider. It contains a nice balance of tannins, sugar and acids, which make this apple variety suitable for single-varietal cider. But how did Kingston Black end up in Luxembourg? It’s easy. Ramborn has entered into a collaboration with Peter Mitchell, who is an internationally renowned cider and perry authority.

Kingston Black is a limited edition cider from Ramborn Cider. Only 3000 bottles were produced. I’m trying one of them. Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: single variety Kingston Black
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.3%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter
Ingredients: contains sorbic acid

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a little quickly dissipating white head. Almost no carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is slightly sweet with an acidic touch and exhibits notes of red and yellow apples, caramel, butter toffee, juicy fresh apple with a hint of green apples.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet with a faintly watery note and low acidity. Subsequently, a hint of green apple, red apple, freshly pressed red apple juice, crisp apple with a delicate astringent taste appears. It ends with an apple seed, apple stems, and a lingering caramel-like bitterness, which moves to a red apple taste. It has a spicy alcohol bite to it and tastes lightly chalky as well.

Overall: Kingston Black tastes like a cross between English cider and German cider (not to confuse with German Apfelwein). It’s a good drop, but not mind-blowing simply because the alcohol burn in the aftertaste doesn’t allow you to appreciate lovely initial tastes of crisp apple, red and green apples with caramel. Due to the alcohol burn, I have the impression that Kingston Black is slightly out of balance so I think I prefer Ramborn’s experiments with local fruits than with English cider apples. Summarizing, the Kingston Black is a nice tipple with a kick. 4/6

Availability: since it is a special edition cider the availability might be limited to Ramborn’s farm. In Germany available perhaps from The Hop Shop Trier.

Price: Kingston Black was sent to me by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.

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.
IMG_7109
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.

Ramborn Cellar Editions Erbachhofer 2016

Erbachhofer is an apple variety that has been used for making Apfelwein or, as locals call it, viez in German Saarland but also in small Luxembourg. When it was time to make a blend for the Farmhouse, my personal favourite cider from Ramborn, Caroline, the cider maker at Ramborn kept some separated Erbachhofer as it simply tasted so good. Hence, tasting Erbachhofer, a cider from Ramborn’s Cellar Editions should give one a picture of what Luxembourg’s cider apples are really like.Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: single variety Erbachhofer
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or snifter
Ingredients: contains sorbic acid

Appearance: pours a clear amber with orange hues and no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rich and slightly sweet with notes of red and yellow apples, overripe apples, apple juice, oak, and a hint of pear. I can also get a very distant flavour of caramel, cinnamon and cloves.

Taste: it starts with low sweetness and a delicate watery taste with relatively high lemon-like acidity that instantly stimulates your salivary glands to produce saliva. Subsequently, a note of red apples and yellow apples, light astringent taste, oak and apple-seed bitterness appear with a strong smoky note, detectable only in the beginning. A lingering lemon flavour with moderate apple seed-bitterness and a hint of green apple in the aftertaste

Overall: when I tried an apple juice made from Erbachhofer I thought it tasted glorious. Hence, it is not a surprise that also a cider made from this apple variety has an exceptional palate. Ramborn’s Erbachhofer is rich, with a good structure and nicely preserved refreshing appley taste. I was especially fond of the apple-seeds-bitterness, which was quite strong but not disturbing at all. It made me feel that I’m really drinking a traditional viez from Luxembourg. In addition, I enjoyed the fact that the Erbachhofer is a still cider, not sparkling. For those who are not fans of sour-tasting cider, the Erbachhofer may be less palatable. Taken together, The Farmhouse is still my favourite but I wouldn’t say no to a glass of Erbachhofer if it’d be offered. 4.5/6

Availability: since it is a special edition cider the availability might be limited and therefore hard to get. In Germany available at this moment only from The Hop Shop Trier.

Price: Erbachhoffer was kindly sent to me by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.