Frank’s Summer Apple Cider is as straight forward as cider gets. “We don’t muck around.” That’s how Frank grew apples. Now his grandaughter has taken over the “Woodside” orchard. Some of the trees are over 80 years old which is a pretty rare thing on the Australian cider scene, but the Tasmanian Huon Valley provides the perfect conditions for growing apples as we’ve seen in the Willies Smiths and Pagan Ciders reviews.
I’ve been looking forward to reviewing Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cider. To understand this real cider you need to understand its heritage. Back in 1888 Willie Smith planted an apple orchard. Today these apples are hand-picked to make a cloudy French farmhouse style cider.
Willie Smiths orchard is nestled down in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. Where the air is said to be some of the purest air in the world and some of the freshest rain comes direct from the south pole. All this makes for great conditions growing apples. Willie Smiths are doing their best to maintain this environment by becoming fully organic certified. They claim this can improve the nutritional value of the cider. This is the truer to form, to Willie Smiths it is the traditional way. They don’t need anything artificial, in the soil or the cider. They care about their farm, their drinkers, and Tasmania. I love the fact that they’re not letting a multi-nation agribusiness prescribe their newest “Ultra Root Booster” or “Caterpillar Killer 1000” for a short-term gain. Knowing that long-term they will harm the ecosystem of the orchard long-term. Willie Smiths knows that the Huon Valley is a fundamental part of their cider. It is an asset worth preserving .
Pagan Apple Cider from The Huon Valley, a traditional apple growing region of Tasmania. Pagan Cider source the apples from Lucaston Park Orchards. These guys have been growing fruit in Tasmania for 4 generations. What Pagan cider don’t do to their cider is the interesting bit. The Cider isn’t pasteurised, as this dulls the flavour. There is no sugar added because this is an Australian “Real Cider” and that is (morally) not allowed. It does not have gluten or egg white. Odd things to put in a cider but they can be used as a clarifier, but this is a proper cider; its just full to the brim with Tassie apple juice.
A cider, by wine makers, Napoleone Apple Cider is a family operation that grows, presses and ferments the fruit themselves. This gives them total control over the end product, which has earnt them a silver medal in the 2013 Cider Australia Awards for medium ciders (specific gravity between 1005 and 1012).
The Napoleone family immigrated from Italy in the 1940’s settling in the Yarra Valley. They set about planting apples for the eating market. Today they have around 250 hectares of apple trees. In the late 1980 vines were planted and was later turned to wine sold under the Punt Road label.
Rocland Estate’s Sitting Ducks Peary is my bold introducktion into the Australian Perry scene. It’s a showcase for Adelaide Hills finest pears.
After the great cider boom (which is still booming) pears wanting in on the alcoholic action. On the back of cider branding came Pear Cider. Now I challenge anyone to give me a good definition of what a pear cider is. A cider is made from apples and maybe a little yeast and preservatives is you real must. Unless of course your from Sweden and then anything goes, but that’s a rant for another day. A Perry is a cider made from a special type of pears call Perry Pears. These have wonderful names like Arlingham Squash, Moorcroft, Blakeney Red, Winnal’s Longdon and Judge Amphlett. Pears are hard to grow. The fermentation is prone to infections. Perry can be hard to master but some say though that a good perry is better than a fine champagne. Now a Pear Cider, what is that? My best guess is: it’s a marketing idea to through another “flavour” out there and see if it works. Pears, once fermented are sweeter than fermented apples because of a sugar, sorbitol, can not be converted to alcohol. This might be an attempt to appeal to the alcopop crowd.
My opion is a Cider is made from apples, a Perry is made from perry pears and a Pear Cider is cheating at best and at worst a chemical filled fruit wine alcopop.If it only contains pear and apple juice what is the ratio?
Since starting this blog I’ve been amazed at how many different Aussie ciders are out there. Do a search on Twitter for cider makers and you will be amazed at how many you will find. Quite a few of the Australian cider are at the on the sweeter end of the spectrum. Sitting Duck Apple Cider stands out from the crowd being the driest Aussie cider I’ve tasted. Free from concentrate and only using local Adelaide Hills apples, It’s easy to see why its won awards at the Perth and Sydney Royal Shows.
Over a couple emails Nick Penprase, Sales Manager at Rocland Estate (Sitting Duck’s parent company) told me about Sitting Duck Cider.
Until today I thought that terrior could only come from the soil type, the annual rainfall, the things that make your orchard unique. Today my perception of Terrior changed, I realised it was more ethereal than what flavours the sunlight hours and soil provide. The extra element is the regionality and Young Henry’s Cloud Cider could be any Newtown if it tried
On what feels like Sydney’s wettest day in 2014, I find myself in a industrial unit, in the back streets of Newtown, where inside is just as wet. They guys were hard at work cleaning out the fermentation tanks ready for the next batch. I sat down with Owen from Young Henry’s to talk about making cider in Sydney’s Inner West.
Fournier Doux is an bit of an elusive cider. The company’s website does little more than show images of the ciders they make including the Doux, a brut and a rosé. The bottle does tell us that the apples used in the cider are grown in their own orchards. That to me, is a massive part of “real cider”. I’m not saying superb real ciders can’t be made from brought in apples but they loose something in the terrior. It’s this soil to bottle mentality coupled with the traditional Normandy taste has seen them awarded a PGI by the European union.
PGI or Protected geographical indication Means that a product is typical of a region. The techniques used are traditional and unique to the culture of that region. The term Doux is a French term to describe the fact it is a sweet cider below 3% alcohol.