Down in Harcourt, Victoria its the middle of the 2015 Vintage. Fruit picking is in full swing. It’s beginning to look like a bumper crop. I called Simon Frost between truckloads of apples bins coming out of the orchard ready to be pressed and turned into Harcourt Apple Cider waiting for me to review.
I asked what was on this truckload.
So for the sake of curiosity I ask what cold pressing was all about.
“We treat the apple very delicately. We press the apples in an old style basket press. The entire pressing is done at 1ºc. This slows down oxidization, preserves aroma and reduces the risk of bugs (unwanted microbes) getting into the juice. We ferment the cider till it’s dry and about 8%, then some freshly pressed juice is added back in to bring the alcohol back down to 5% and bring out the freshness.”
You know when you leave an apple half eaten on the bench for a while and it starts to brown? That is oxidization. Keeping the pulp and juice cold keeps it a clear pale yellowy green colour as opposed to a dark orange of other ciders.
A cider made from Granny Smiths and Pink Ladies is not uncommon to see on the Australian market but I wanted to know what sets the Harcourt apart from the others on the market, so I put that to Simon.
“I think Harcourt, grows some of Australia’s best apples. We have a granite soil which really makes them special”
From what I know about granite soils, they are hard work. Nothing likes growing in them. On the other hand, apples that have, had a tough life have big flavour.
Inside this 500ml bottle decorated with botanical illustrations lives a cider so pale its hard to see. Look a little closer and there is fine green colour directly from the Granny Smith flesh. The cold pressing hasn’t given oxidization a chance to take hold.
As soon as you open the bottle and begin to pour you know what you’re going to drink. The first wave is all about the perfumes of the Pink Ladies. Shortly followed by the grassy tartness of a Granny Smith.
Sweet and tart, pretty well sums it up. I don’t think i can remember drinking a cider that so accurately reflects the apple varieties from which the cider started. The taste follows the same story line as the smell. Upfront the pink ladies provide the sweetness and the Grannies following behind with a lingering acidity. Green apple skin provides the background. I’m looking for what the granite soils brings the to bottle, it subtly manifests itself sharpness early in the mouthful, later it almost salty in the finish. I liken it to the apple equivalent of a mineral water .
Final Thoughts on Harcourt
In recent weeks I’ve been drinking a lot of sweet ciders made with a base of Pink Ladies and Grannies. After a while they all begin to taste the same. You know what I mean, nicely balanced sweetness with crispness. What makes Harcourt stand out from the pack, for me, is the cold pressing. Not only does it make it visually appealing but also it locks in the freshness and the aroma of the apples fresh from the orchard in the back of Simon’s truck.
|Country of Origin||Australia|
Sample provided By Harcourt Cider