First things first. You can find out plenty about AeppelTreow Winery and Distillery at their website:
I have reviewed one AeppelTreow cider before, their Barnswallow. Interested parties can read that review here: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/03/cider-review-appeltreow-barnswallow.html
The briefest version of AeppelTreow's description of their Kinglet Bitter reads, "Semi-dry, medium tannic traditional English and French cider apples."
While mouthwatering, that doesn't go as deep as I would like in terms of information, and, luckily for us cider nerds, AeppelTreow gives us more. Here's the full rundown of what they say about the Kinglet Bitter.
English and French traditional cider apples. Complex and tannic.
Fermented to highlight cultivars and terroir.
Subtle apple and tannins, tart, slightly bubbly.
- Body: Medium
- Sweetness: 1
- Tartness: 4
- Alcohol: 6
- Apples: Dabinette, Domaine, Frequin Rouge, White Jersey, Muscadet Deippe and other bittersweet cider apples of English and French heritage.
Kinglet Bitter is one of our proud ‘estate’ ciders. It’s all grown at Brightonwoods, within sight of the Winery. It’s more subtle and complex than Barn Swallow – being fermented from 100% bitter English and French cider apples. It differs from an authentic European cider by being ‘immature’. Kinglet has very little post-ferment changes made by wild Lactic Acid Bacteria. Instead, we ferment it with a Sangiovese yeast that we think really brings out the tannin characters of the cider-specific cultivars. These apples are rare, and not easy to grow. When we get the question "Then why use them?", we pour a glass of Kinglet.I've had a fair number of ciders that use only cider apples, and it changes the landscape of flavors tremendously. What excites me especially is that this list goes beyond the ten or so cider apples I've tasted most often and includes totally unfamiliar apples! The comment about relative 'immaturity' caused by post-fermentation changes makes me curious. What does that really mean? How will that translate into taste?
Appearance: marigold, few visible bubbles, brilliant
This is a deeply colored cider. Its marigold hue bespeaks tannins; this is not a surprise given the description.
Aromas: Tons of overripe apple aroma, some minerals, spicy.
Wow! I feel completely entranced by the aromas here. This smells sweetly spicy but oh-so appley. Laying atop this balance, I pick up a subtle drift of minerality. Gosh, this is going to be good.
This has some sweetness, but not too much. Definitely not enough to call it semi-sweet. The thing about this sweetness that I notice most is its depth. This is a real rich apple taste that expresses itself partly with sweetness.
Flavors: high tannins, medium sweetness, rich, creamy, yet a bit tart
This cider tastes highly tannic but not too dry. I'll chalk that up not only to deep fruits in the mid palate but also no overkill in terms of acidity. The Kinglet Bitter offers rich flavor without being heavy. Instead the mouthfeel is more creamy but with hints of zest. The flavor is one that you can fall into but that just bounces you back up. It really is tannic and sweet but still refreshing; I just cannot get over how well those two elements are balanced.
I just absolutely adore this cider.
The level of sparkle is more one of spritz or petillance. My one complaint is that it did lose its sparkle fairly quickly in the glass. This is not a sincere critique. We need ciders at all levels of bubble and stillness. I just happen to like sparkle a lot.
Thinking about pairings for AeppelTreow's Kinglet Bitter, I'd like to pair it with foods that play up its tannins well. I think a totally smooth sherried mushroom soup, a salad with big herby croutons, and gruyere would taste amazing. Mind you, I enjoyed my own glasses of this cider with a good book instead of food. I assure you, it delights the senses either way. I just like tasty cider more than I like cooking, so I don't always prepare the meals that I think the ciders deserve.
Thanks so much to AeppelTreow for making the Kinglet Bitter. Yes, it is worth growing the difficult cider apples. Keep up the great work.