Small Arce’s latest release, Sparkling Rouge 2017, is not your average fruit cider. A summery twist on a very traditional cider that blends old-world techniques with the fruits of an Aussie Christmas party.
Normally I try to only write about ciders that are 100% apple juice based. Ciders with added fruit on the mass market often contain enough sugar to rot Willie Wonka’s teeth, but when I was giving the opportunity to try Small Acres latest release it was hard to say no.
What sets this cider apart is the fact that it combines real fruit like cherries, plums and blueberries with traditional cider apples that are bottle conditioned then finished with the Methode Traditionelle style. All of the fruit is blended then fermented together to allow plenty of time to let the flavours get friendly with each other.
The Small Acres orchard in the central New South Wales town of Orange, is supplying around 20 different times of cider apples. All the other fruit (cherries plums and blueberries) in the cider either come from the Small Acres orchard or from over the neighbour’s fence.
Opening up the water coloured bottle I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly wasn’t expecting an old English cider to escape from under the crown cap, but that is exactly what I got. Barnyard and horsiness. The fruit is there, particularly the blueberry.
While the scent is Somerset the taste is all summer. A few sour cherries frame everything. Some sweetness tries to balance the tartness but you’re not here for a sweet cider. The Sparkling Rouge is all about is about those red fruits that cut the sweetness on top of your Christmas day pavlova.
The combination of apples, blueberries and fine fizz will take you back to a packet of sherbet from the canteen at the local swimming pool.
I was expecting more plum. That only really comes through as the cider warms and at the tail end of the taste. English cider apples can give a thick mouthfeel but sharpness of the red fruits leave it full but not chewy.
Final Thoughts on the Sparkling Rouge 2017
Fruit in ciders can often be an afterthought. A shortcut to a point of difference in the marketplace. It’s rare to see the use of real fruit. Even rarer, at least in Australia, for a fruit cider to use real cider apples. The fact that Small Acres then goes the extra miles with the incredible labour intensive Methode Traditionelle technique means that this is no shortcut.
The Sparkling Rouge just oozes sophistication while throwing you back to your cheeky childhood. You can almost hear the bubbles coming off Sparkling Rouge screaming out for this to be served with some canapes. A must-have for the summer garden Christmas parties.
|Sarkling Rouge 2017
|Country of Origin
|Orange, New South Wales