When was the last time you tried cider? Previously hailed as the drink of royalty, cider has fallen out of favour, steamrolled by wine’s increasing sophistication, the rise of craft beer and the gin resurgence. Dig a little deeper, though, and you realise that there’s more to it than that.
Production of British cider and perry only requires 35% fruit juice and the bar is even lower with fruit wines. And unlike wine, global standards for cider and the amount of fruit content in the bottle vary hugely. But look to drinks made from 100% juice, not from concentrate, and you’ll discover the best ciders, perries and fruit wines out there.
As such, Cider Is Wine and the IWSC partnered on a blind tasting of 100% juice not-from-concentrate, with six expert judges looking, sniffing and tasting their way through fruit drinks made in the same style as wine.
Judges included food and drink writer and Club Oenologique contributor Fiona Beckett, the Social Company’s executive head sommelier Laure Patry and Adam Wells, the co-editor of Cider Review and Graftwood.
While the UK dominates in terms of global cider sales, 10 different countries were awarded medals for their fruit wines across the 13 different categories.
Ice ciders (made in a similar way to ice wine) particularly impressed the judges, including those made in sub-Arctic conditions by Sweden’s Brännland. Another standout drink was rhubarb melomel (a cross between mead and wine) from Berryland in the Ukraine.
La Petite Grange du Cidre, a cider made in a keeved style from Llanblethian Orchards in Wales, took the top cider trophy. Keeving is an ancient and artisan practice most often used in Normandy and Brittany – where a slow fermentation and wild yeasts create a naturally sweeter drink – and it’s exciting the see this skill and artistry returning to the UK.
And The Newt, a 16th-century country house hotel in Somerset that’s been lovingly restored, picked up a medal for its first traditional method cider, The Winston, bottled in a 568ml (pint-sized) bottle.
More than anything, this tasting showed the diversity of styles and individual qualities of these fascinating ciders, perries and fruit wines being made around the world.
The 20 best ciders, perries and fruit wines
- Brannland, Iscider Barrique 2013. Sweden; 97/100
- Cydr Chyliczki, Lodowa Beczka 2017. Poland; 97/100
- The Newt in Somerset, The Winston NV. England; 96/100
- Brännland, Iscider 2014. Sweden; 95/100
- Llanblethian Orchards, La Petite Grange du Cidre NV. Wales; 95/100
- Loïc Raison, Doux Fruité NV. France; 95/100
- Trevibban Mill, Oaked Cornish NV. England; 95/100
- Ecusson, Doux NV. France; 93/100
- Eden Specialty Ciders, Cinderella’s Slipper 2018. USA; 93/100
- Once Upon A Tree, Bacchus Cider NV. England; 93/100
- Once Upon A Tree, Blenheim Superb 2019. England; 93/100
- Abel, Mèthode 2017. New Zealand; 92/100
- Bayeux, Traditionnel NV. France; 92/100
- Eden Specialty Ciders, Heirloom Reserve 2015. USA; 92/100
- Find and Foster, Keeved Cider NV. England; 92/100
- Brännland, Iscider Belle de Boskoop 2015. Sweden; 91/100
- Chalkdown, Cider NV. England; 91/100
- Lutton Farm, Blue Aurora Ice NV. England; 91/100
- Lutton Farm, Long Brothers Co-Ferment NV. England; 91/100
- Tinston, Anatomy 2018. England; 91/100
The judging process
We run a tightly structured, rigorous tasting process. That means that each cider sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges.
How do we score these wines?
Only the best ciders sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, samples have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver bottles range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
More from Club Oenologique
Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.