Meon Valley Cider – Chalk Stream – Reviewed

Producer: Meon Valley Cider http://www.meonvalleycider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Chalk Stream
Region: Hampshire, Uk
ABV: 6%
Taste: Bitterweet apple
Served: 500ml bottle (Lightly chilled)
Smell: Bittersweet apples, hint of almond
Colour: Golden Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Our mainstream cider. Eminently quaffable! A golden amber coloured refreshing cider with an appley nose and long dry finish. Well balanced flavour comprising our own and locally sourced Hampshire and Sussex dessert/culinary apples bittersweets and bittersharps from the West Country”

The third and final of the Meon Valley bottled range to be reviewed. This is the least complex of the three but undoubtedly the most refreshing.

The aroma is sweet apple with a hint of almond. Golden amber and lightly sparkling, Chalk Stream looks stunning in the glass and promises plenty. Upfront bittersweets dominate this blend of East meets West apples. Only towards the end, are the bittersharps present giving a crisp and tannic finish. The aftertaste is really pleasant and demands another sip.

Verdict: A very moreish, well-balanced medium cider. Although it lacks complexity, it is a cider that I would happily “quaff” on the river bank for hours.

Rating: Bronze Award* (Good Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

*A Bronze award is awarded to only 10% of ciders reviewed by us. Therefore this is a highly rated cider in the category of ‘Good Cider’.

Meon Valley Cider – Dragonfly – Reviewed

Producer: Meon Valley Cider http://www.meonvalleycider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Dragonfly
Region: Hampshire, Uk
ABV: 6%
Taste: Bitter-sharp, crisp apple skins, broad tannin bitter-sweet
Served: 500ml bottle (Lightly chilled)
Smell: Wildflowers
Colour: Amber (Honey)
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling
Award Category: Regional Cider

Review / Tasting notes

“Honey coloured, wildflower nose with almond notes, hints of bittersweet and a lingering dry finish.”

An intriguing fusion of East meets West apples in this delightful Hampshire blend.

The upfront bitter-sharps fizz momentarily before crisp apple skins and broad tannins give depth to the taste. There follows a little bitter-sweetness alongside honey and latterly clove. The finish is bitter but not too much so, neither is this so dry that the fruit is overwhelmed. Finely balanced with just a modicum of astringency in the after-taste.

Verdict: This is a fantastic and intriguing blend. One for the table to accompany a blue cheese perhaps. This is a very fine cider indeed and one of only a handful to be issued our silver award.

Rating: Silver Award* (Regional Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

*A Silver award is awarded to only 5% of ciders reviewed by us. Therefore this is a highly rated cider in the category of ‘Regional Cider’.

Henney’s Dry Cider – Reviewed

Producer: Henney’s  http://www.henneys.co.uk
Cider Name: Dry Cider
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV: 6%
Taste: Bittersweet, clove, honey notes, Dry
Served: 500ml bottle (Lightly Chilled)
Smell: Fresh Apple and Honey sweet aroma
Colour: Gold
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“’Sweet appley aroma. palate has a delicious bittersweet apple character with some spicy bite and a bit of tannic grip. Very fruity and quite pure, with a nice savoury twist.’”

The upfront taste is a fellowship of sweetness, spice, bitter-sweetness and broad tannins. The fruit taste does not get lost or overwhelmed as it does sometimes in very dry ciders. Honey notes take over for a short while before spice kicks in toward the end, leaving a warm mouthfeel.

The balance of the cider is outstanding as the acidity, bitterness and sweetness never dominate, they just seem to introduce each other politely before the spice dominates the finale. The aftertaste is stunning and should be savoured as the hint of spice and tannins linger on the palate.

Verdict: This is an early contender for a position near the summit of our Top 100. Henney’s Dry Cider is only the second cider to be awarded the silver medal by our reviewers.

Rating: 8.7 (Silver Award)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Cranes – Blueberries and Apple Cider- Reviewed

Producer: Cranes https://www.drinkcranes.co.uk/
Cider Name: Blueberries and Apple
Region: Cambridge, Uk
ABV: 4%
Taste: Fruity, naurally sweet fruit of cranberry blueberry and apple
Served: 750ml bottle (Chilled)
Smell: Fruity
Colour: Red (cranberry juice colour)
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Ben & Dan brew the finest cranberries alongside apples to deliver this refreshingly crisp cider with blueberries and apples for that delicious fruity taste. We have managed to create a naturally light cider by utilizing the sweetness of the fruit..”

This is a delicately balanced collection of complimentary flavours that culminates in a refreshing cider. At just 4% ABV it isn’t syrupy like some fruit ciders.

The upfront fruitiness of the blueberries and cranberries remains throughout. The apples bittersweet tones are overwhelmed by the berries a little too much for this to be regarded as an apple cider but we loved it nevertheless.

Verdict: From the first sip, the fruit quality was extremely high. Although destined for a commercial market, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing fruit juice cider.

Rating: 7.85 (Bronze Award)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Oliver’s – Bottle Conditioned Medium (Season 2018) – Reviewed

Producer: Oliver’s  https://www.oliversciderandperry.co.uk/
Cider Name: Bottle Conditioned Medium (Season 2018)
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV: 5.4%
Taste: Bittersweet, well-balanced, great depth of apple flavours
Served: 750ml bottle (Cool room temperature)
Smell: Strong nose, earthy, cheesy
Colour: Amber
Clarity: A little cloudy
Carbonation: Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Sparkling through conditioning in the bottle with a full, natural apple sweetness. Hints of clove and spice and red apple skins. Beautifully integrated. The cork and wire is back.”

An exquisitely well balanced sparkling cider with incredible depth. This poured like amber champagne and gave off a distinct aroma which we felt was quite pungent and not as pleasing as the great taste.

The upfront sweetness is followed quickly by earthy bitter-sweetness and broad tannins. The level of acidity never dominates the overall flavour leaving a smooth and delicate mouthfeel. The aftertaste is stunning and should be savoured as the hint of spice and tannins linger on the palate.

Verdict: This is an early contender for a position near the summit of our Top 100. Oliver’s Bottle Conditioned Medium (Season 2018) is the first cider to be awarded the silver medal by our reviewers.

Rating: 8.71 (Silver Award)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Dudda’s Tun – Perry – Reviewed

Producer: Dudda’s Tun https://duddastuncider.com/
Cider Name: Perry
Region: Kent, Uk
ABV: 5.5%
Taste: Subtle pear, lingering honey notes / Crisp and fresh
Served: 500ml bottle (chilled)
Smell: Light Pear, Honey Notes
Colour: Pale, chartreuse hue
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“A lightly sparkling, well balanced perry, with subtle honey notes produced from super ripe Comice pears”

A good perry can be a highly prized, multi-faceted drink bursting with flavours. Dudda’s is a delightful, refreshing perry that leaves a nicely balanced pear taste, though struggles to release the more subtle honey notes.

Verdict: A clean, crisp, refreshing perry that will only disappoint those looking for more than a clean pear taste.

Rating: 7.6 (Bronze Award)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Meon Valley Cider – Brown Trout reviewed

Producer: Meon Valley Cider http://www.meonvalleycider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Brown Trout
Region: Hampshire, Uk
ABV: 6.0%
Taste: Medium Dry – caramel notes
Served: 500ml bottle at room temperature
Smell: Oak and Apple (strong nose)
Colour: Light Brown
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review/Tasting Notes:

This award winning (Joint-second – Cider of the Festival CAMRA Southampton 2018) cider is a complex medium dry craft cider. High in tannins, leaving a wonderful after-taste that lingers well beyond tasting.

“Amber cider lightly oaked with vanilla, kiwi fruit, and caramel notes. Good with stilton cheese and desserts. Using local Hampshire and Sussex dessert apples together with bittersweeets from the West Country.”

Verdict: Complex and mature. Sure to feature in the Top 100.

Rating: 8.6 (Silver Award Winner)

Ranking: To be confirmed (01/07/2021)

Hunts – Wobbler – reviewed

Producer: Hunts Cider Website
Cider Name: Wobbler
Region: Devon, Uk
ABV: 6.0%
Taste: Medium sweet well-balanced
Served: 500ml bottle at room temperature
Smell: Pleasant aroma of apples
Colour: Dark yellow/Light Brown
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still

Review/Tasting Notes:

Hunts Wobbler is a delightfully complex yet well balanced still apple cider. It’s pleasant aroma promises little more than a dessert wine might but there is enough in the nose to tempt you further.

Despite it’s sweetness there is just about enough acidity to balance the big two flavours. But, what separates this from ciders of a similar ambition is the presence of enough tanins to give a slightly toffee-apple flavoured mouth feel that lingers.

Verdict: Expect Wobbler to find it’s way onto the top 100 list, perhaps towards the upper end.

Rating: 8.25 (Bronze Award)

Rank: To Be Determined (01/07/2021)