Cider Review by Adam Wells: Berryland – A Delightful Trio To Taste


CIDER REVIEW

30th August 2021

Written by Adam Wells

Link to full review: Click Here

Extract:

Berryland Pét Nat Apple Cider Brut 2019 – review

How I served: Chilled

Appearance: Pale gold, fine mousse

On the nose: Really pure, clean, clear aromatics. Fresh-pressed apple juice with a lovely honeyed edge. Green pear, cut grass, lemon and hedgerow. More than a little reminiscent of Welsh Mountain’s Pét Nat Pippin reviewed here the other day. All enriched by a leesiness that adds a light layer of breadiness rather than overwhelming with yeast, as can sometimes be the case with this style. Despite being pét nat I’d say this noses rather like a light champagne facsimile. Elegant, defined, and I love that honeyed note.

In the mouth: Fresh, vibrant and full of bright flavour which mirrors the nose really well whilst adding a lemony citrus to the honey and green fruit. Pretty much totally dry, and without any tannin to clash with the well-judged fizz lifts everything splendidly. Lovely sherbet and almond hints on the finish. Again, I’m reminded of Welsh Mountain’s Pippin and of things I’ve had from Duckchicken.

In a nutshell: Delicious, elegant, flavourful aperitif cider you could confidently serve anyone at any celebration. Yum.

Sticking to apples-only, next up is the barrel-fermented brut of the same vintage. No clues as to how it differs otherwise, as the Cider is Wine description suggests that the apples came from the same area. So whilst I wouldn’t like to just assume that it’s effectively the last cider plus oak, there’s every chance that might be the case. Perhaps tasting it will give me a clearer idea. Bottles also cost £13 for 750ml.

Berryland Barrel Fermented Cider Brut 2019 – review

How I served: Lightly chilled.

Appearance: A tone deeper, but still lightish gold. Similar fizz.

On the nose: Again tremendously clean, clear and aromatic. The barrel has not intruded on the brightness of the fruit at all, rather it has brushed a layer of vanilla and sweetly-spiced pastry on top of it. Fruit is green and yellow and tangy. Mixed skittles and tangerine slices. Some confectionary but not too much so. Again, very nice.

In the mouth: I’m getting into broken record territory here, but again the zingy, zesty, citrusy brightness is the star, overset with that vanilla and sensitively managed polished oak. Again, no tannin but there’s vivid intensity of flavour and good body to which the fizz adds a creaminess without being excessive. Green apple. Lime chewits. Fizzy strawberry laces. Cloudy lemonade. This seems to have similar vibes to some barrel-fermented Kertelreiters I’ve had (though admittedly I’m tasting them a long time apart). Those who’ve followed my reviews here will know that’s some compliment.

In a nutshell: Shows how good so-called “culinary apple” cider can be. Expressive, polished, stylish and very tasty.

And now for something completely different. (I’ve been rewatching a lot of Monty Python lately.) Last up is a 2020 co-fermentation of apples with Cabernet Franc grapes. We’ve met, and thoroughly enjoyed, cider-wine hybrids here in the past, but Cabernet Franc, a grape commonly used in the Loire and Bordeaux, but which isn’t always my favourite, is a first for me. (Though I was very intrigued to learn that it grew in the Ukraine; another demonstration of my ignorance, despite working in the wine industry – they’re coming thick and fast today).

Since this was made outside the UK, it wasn’t created with one eye on our draconian duty laws concerning “made wine” and so this has been bottled at the same strength as the ciders – 7.5%. It’s also pét nat and is also listed as brut. Let’s see how we get on. In a nice piece of consistency, this too is £13 from Cider is Wine.

Berryland Cabernet Franc Apple Cider Brut 2020 – review

How I served: Lightly chilled.

Appearance: Ribena. Similar fizz again (three well-behaved pét nats – what a time to be alive!)

On the nose: Blackberry and apple jam in a glass! Nice tartness-depth balance from the Cab Franc. Black cherries, freshly-crushed black grape skins, a smoky herbiness in the background. The apple is definitely second fiddle, but it’s there providing ballast. I really like this nose – joyful stuff.

In the mouth: Brambly fruit and brambly bushes. More of that smoky herbaceousness and apple-and-blackberry jam. Despite its depth it doesn’t lose vibrancy and energy and verve, aided by fresh acidity and a joyful, frothy mousse. This drink makes me smile. Summer fruit, sitting in the garden with the smell of grass and fern around you.

In a nutshell: Wine is the star, but the apple has its say. Fans of pét nat red, roll up. Again I say yum.

Conclusions

What a delight this trio was to taste. Bravo to Vitalii, and bravo to Cider is Wine for bringing them over. The first pair show how vibrant and aromatic and fresh and flavourful dessert fruit ciders can be – easily a rival for the best in the English Eastern counties, and (dare I say it?) better than most. The wine hybrid is just glorious fun, and I will certainly need at least another bottle. I send a picture of it, with accompanying tasting note and enthusiastic comments, to Rachel Hendry of Burum Collective and J’adore le Plonk as soon as I’d finished my review, and I can’t pay a wine-related drink a much higher compliment than that.

If this is the sort of quality that Berryland continues to produce, I don’t think it’ll be long before other folk in the Ukraine take notice and follow suit. As for us over in the UK, another wonderful, natural, international producer whose wares we can buy for ourselves. Another excellent player in cider’s international orchestra. They deserve your attention and custom; they certainly have mine.

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