It may be staying the obvious but to make a good cider you need start with good apples. But if you start with just one type of apple, will it have the depth and character? In a test of what an apple can do, Willie Smith release the 2017 Somerset Redstreak Dry Cider .

While it’s pretty common to see single variety wines it’s much rarer in ciders because most apples have only one dimension of flavour, so many varieties are needed for a full flavour. The Somerset Redstreak is one of the few that have a balance of sugar, bitterness, acids, and tannins. The challenge was to create a cider that could be on a par with tannin heavy wines like a Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Somerset Redstreak apple is not a magic bullet, you can’t just chuck it in a barrel and hope for a top notch cider. Tim Jones, the Willie’s Smith’s head cider maker, takes great care to highlight every element that these apples exhibit by using technics that have been used in England for generations.

Willie Smith's Somerset Redstreak review
The apples are left to age and sweat after being picked. This let’s more of the starches transform into sugars. It also allows the apples perfumes to build. During the pulping, the juice is allowed to oxidise, again to boost the aromas. During the fermentation, temperatures are kept low, this holds those aromas intact. The ferment is allowed to continue to a near bone dry state before being bottled with added CO2 for the bubbles.

The Nose

A little bit of sweetness from the bittersweet Redstreak apples, it shows up as a sweet brown sugar or cameral. Strange to say I’m also getting a good hit of a butter chicken curry. There is a lot of things going one here.

The Taste

With the absence of sweetness the soil is exposed, minerals of the Huon Valley are on show with just the faintest hint of the saltiness. This cloudy cider has a little bit bitterness. One of the stand out features of this cider has got to be the mouth feel created by the tannin structure. A good smack of tannin acts like a bold red wine with out the stuffiness of gentleman’s leather chair. You have all the impact of the red but this is just fresher and more modern.

Final Thoughts on the Somerset Redstreak

If the goal was to impress a red wine drinker with the depth of character of a cab sav. It’s easy, job done. I get the sense that this has been put out there as a educational cider to show off what this one apple can do. My guess is that this information will be used in future blends. This one for the libations geeks out there. Cork dorks need this as a lesson in apple wines, while us cider snobs should try this to learn what a stripped back single variety cider from the Huon Valley tastes like, remember that flavour and come back to it when the 2018 Sommerset Redstreak is released. This proves how much room there is for growth of new tastes in the market, not with additives but with singular precision.

Product Sommerset Redstreak Dry 2017
Company Willie Smith’s
Sweetness Off Dry
ALC/VOL 6.3%
Country of Origin Australia
Region Houn Valley, Tasmania

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