La Mare Estate Branchage Medium Sparkling Cider Review

Vital Stats:

Producer: La Mare Estate
Cider Name: Branchage Medium Sparkling
Region: Jersey
ABV: 6%
Taste: Medium
Served: Chilled 500ml bottle
Smell: Fruity/Apples
Colour: Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Sparkling

Review/Tasting Notes:

Purchased From: La Mare Estate Shop, Jersey
Date: 12/12/12

Today is that magical day everyone seems to be talking about. It’s 12/12/12 and the world seems to be going stir crazy, as it’s a repetitive date and won’t happen again for a while. Personally, I just see it as a day that the Americans can read the date the same as us! I’ll never understand their order of month/date/year…where’s the logic in that?!?! Other than that, I can’t see the fuss really. Anyway as it’s a ‘special’ day, I thought I’d open one of my bottles from Jersey, which I don’t often get to try! First up is the Branchage Cider from La Mare.

La Mare are another one of these producers who has their fingers in both the wine and cidermaking pies. It’s hard to tell which is their bigger priority, but they are both big business for them and look to be of fine quality. Funnily enough, Jersey used to be a huge cider producer back in the 1800’s, producing 8 million litres per year at its peak in 1801, but since then the apple trees lost out to the likes of potatoes. Potatoes over cider?!?! They must have been mad to do that! Though cider making looks to be on the rise again for them too, with the majority of what they produce going into their cider brandy. Mmm, can’t wait to try that too another time!

This cider is named Branchage, which looks to be because of a Jersey law of the same name that requires landowners with hedges next to a road to keep them free from overhanging branches. Apparently if you don’t comply with that you’ll get fined. Ouch! Good job I don’t have a garden over there or I’ll be out-of-pocket constantly! The design for the bottle is simple, effective and just works.

They make their cider exclusively from apples grown on their estate, which consist of a blend of Browns, Michelin, Dabinett & Yarlington Mill apples. As part of the process, they use their winemaking techniques to provide finesse and balance to it and it’s left to cold ferment. All in all it sounds like proper English cider making with a light French twist on it. Personally, I hope it tastes more like an English cider, than a French cider, as that’s just my personal preference!

Finally I have got round to pouring this out and it does have a fair bit of carbonation going on, with a small white foamy head appearing. It’s a deep amber colour and smells very fruity, but that’s a good fruity and not a sickly sweet fruity. There’s a great apple feel to the aroma and makes me just want to get stuck in! Well as they say, there’s no time like the present and off I go!

I’ve just had my first sip of this and wow I do like it. It’s lightly sweet to begin with, but then the ripe, crisp apples and acidity take over, with a good kick of tannins in the tail. The acidity isn’t a majorly high level, but just enough to leave a lingering tingle on the tongue, along with an interesting sour twist. This reminds me of a Herefordshire type cider, if I was going to compare the style to something we have back home. As I’m typing this, I am finding it hard to resist not wanting more of it. Ok 1 handed typing it is from now on then! It’s devilishly moreish and I just really like the lingering taste, which seems to have a light hint of wood with a moderate level of dryness. Only getting one bottle of this is probably my own regret. Ah well, that gives me a good excuse to go back next year then!

Would I buy this again?: Yes
Overall Rating: 8.5/10


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