Food and Drink


A Tasty Guide To Cider

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Apparently many winemakers are buying cheap mulchers from Bunnings. The gossip is that they use them to pulp apples so they can press the juice out, add yeast, and hey! Cider. This may just be an outer suburban myth.  Making cider is more complicated than that, but there are now dozens of cider brands available.

Cider was traditionally made in Europe in regions where it was to cold to grow grapes to make wine. Regions such as Southern England and Northern France. The popularity of cider in Australia over the last four decades has been directly related to how much tax the producer had to pay. The last cider boom fizzled out in the mid 1970’s when the Whitlam government changed the tax regime.

Cider apples are different to culinary apples; they may be more tannic or acidic and generally have a flesh that releases its juice more easily when pressed. Cider is not brewed like beer, it is fermented like wine. The juice is mechanically extracted from the milled pulp and then fermented by yeast. The sweetness can be adjusted by the addition of apple concentrate. Most ciders have their carbonation adjusted at bottling.

Napoleone & Co cider is produced by the winemakers of Punt Road Wines.  This 5.9% cider has a delicate apple nose, in the mouth, flavoursome apples balanced with a slightly-drying tannic mouthfeel. The finish is refreshing and the winemaking input is obvious, this cider has complex flavours.

Pipsqueak is made by Little Creatures and this 5.2% cider is quite different, it  has a very subtle nose but not really of apples. The alcohol is well integrated into the cider and it is very easy to drink.   But, if I was blindfolded I doubt that I would have identified it as cider.

Kelly Brothers make cider at Kellybrook, their family’s property in Wonga Park. This cider at 7% is different again. Very appley nose, much more substantial mouthfeel and a much broader palate than either of the other two. This one finishes quite dry.

So which one is best?  Mornington Peninsula pinot grigio drinkers will prefer Pipsqueak because it doesn’t really taste of much at all.  Yarra Valley chardonnay lovers will favour Napoleone & Co because of this cider’s complexity and finesse.  Barossa Valley shiraz fans will love Kelly Brothers because it has substance.

A good quick lesson in cider is to try all three side by side.

Follow more of Gage Rossiter’s beer buccaneering at

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