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If we’re really honest we weren’t too sure at all why we hadn’t already tried Apple County Cider. Heard of them of course, based in the beautiful wilds of Monmouthshire, but somehow hadn’t gotten around to a sampling their cider – must address our shortcomings!
They are a re-branding, and therefore, new to the craft cider collection in the Forest & Wye but their experience and pedigree is not new. Anyway, we ended up so glad to have tried the Vilberie and Dabinett single variety lightly sparkling craft ciders from Ben and Stephanie over at Apple County Cider.
Introducing the Vilberie apple
The Vilberie apple is a full bittersweet cider apple originally developed in Brittany and introduced to the Herefordshire orchards in the late 19th century. A very heavy cropping late flowering large tree the branches can sometimes snap under the weight of the fruit! Using the apple as a medium dry single variety, as Stephanie and Ben do, replicates that powerful bittersweet flavor subtly rendered. Sadly many cider makers use these distinctive flavours to enhance blends, which is such a shame.
The Dabinett: a full bittersweet cider apple
The Dabinett is another full bittersweet cider apple that bears a small greenish fruit striped with red, which smells very strongly of apples – oddly enough – when it’s ripe. Because it has good tannins, this too is often used for blending but really comes into it’s own here in the hands of Apple County as another single variety. Said to have been found in a Somerset hedgerow by William Dabinett in the 1900’s, this lovely refreshing cider with a typical Dabinett flavour went down really well nice and chilled.
Both tasted great with their own distinct flavours and would be great to drink at any time. We could just imagine ourselves drinking these straight from the bottle, which had been sitting in a nice cold stream for a few hours on a glorious summers day. Instead we had to do the tasting from on a foggy Thursday in March with samples left in the fridge for a couple of hours! The point is – they were fab! We got to thinking about food combinations and whilst they’d go with just about anything we had them with a pasta dish of our own creation.
Linguine with chilli, black pudding and truffle oil. We know – way out. But, we think we have discovered a real winner (ask us for the secret recipe via the blog or social media) to which either of the single variety offerings from Apple County Cider made a fantastic accompaniment. Oh and the good news is… we still have the Naughty Horsey straight from the keg cloudy to try yet!
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