The Australian market for cider is dominated by two brands, both owned and produced by the one brewery. Given the commercial, mass produced nature of these 'big two' it's easy to underestimate cider and write it off as 'innocuous swill.' All that is changing as quality European examples are beginning to reach our shores. Few realise what a wonderful history cider has had in many European cultures. Texts mention events such as Louis XI's ban on the production of beer, in order to use the barley to ease a famine stricken population. Farmers subsequently looked for alternative palliatives, and so a passion for cider was born. The Normans popularised cider after their conquest of England in 1066, and Spaniard Guillaume Dusus brought new apple varieties to Normandy in the 16th Century. With him, improvements in fermentation techniques lead to better quality cider. Later, in an effort to curb the dominance of imported brandy, cider was distilled, transforming into the divine spirit we know as Calvados! (Apple Brandy).
Manoir du Kinkiz produce cider from 21 varieties of apples grown on 30ha of orchards just outside Quimper, a commune in Brittany, governed by the Cornouaille Appellation, some 70km south of Normandy. This is a fantastic introduction to 'serious' cider, as it displays the characteristics that distinguish traditional, quality French cider from Australian commercial cider, in approachable degrees.
Serve with roast pork & apple sauce or cheese & fruit platters.
Food matches: Norman gastronomes have long known cider works brilliantly with a surprising variety of dishes. Consider the classic match of roast pork with crackling and apple sauce, braised pork or rabbit deglazed with cider or roast duck served with red cabbage and apples. Goats cheeses, especially chevre styles work particularly well with cider (a great Australian example is Holy Goat, not easy to find, but slowly making its way into Melbourne delicatessens). Slightly sweeter styles of cider, such as those produced from pears will accompany desserts like apple pie, tarte tartin, or quince flavoured ice cream.
Tasting Note: This cider pours quite vigourously, with a fine bead, and very fine, persistant carbonation. Deep golden colour with pale golden hue. Top note of very ripe apple, with subtle hints of talc, lavender and violets. The palate entry is rich and medium sweet, initially dominated by ripe, fleshy apple, before turning slightly tart and finishing with lick of fresh acidity and a touch of 'rusticity' in the form of some subtle mouldy flavours (very similar to the mould that develops in blue cheese). There is a slightly powdery feel to the palate. Refreshing bitter-sweet apple aftertaste. Delightful! 6.0% Alc./Vol.