15 Jan 2011

Wine of the week 8 is a cider

THIS SIDE(R) UP is what it says on the label. The producer clearly has a sense of humour as well as a good eye for design. The packaging is impeccable, from the cork-free crown cap on top to the nicely-keyed and simple label and the smart name. All the useful information is on the back label. The maker is called Cyril Zangs. This cider was produced from the 2009 harvest. It comes from Normandy, since 14 is the number for the French département of Calvados (yes this is also where the apple brandy comes from), and a village with the curoous name of Glos. And it contains 6% alcohol.

Apparently this producer uses all kinds of forgotten varieties of apples to make his ciders

tasting notes
This is quite a deep-coloured cider. It is full-bodied yet essentially dry in its flavours. The aromas reminded me of apples and toffee, but not sweet toffee (of one can imgine such stuff). On the palate the fruit is quite scrumptious, ripe and almost chewy, tightly drawn to a finish which is dry without leaving the mouth dried-out (sounds paradoxical, I know, but there it is). In fact the mouth is left fresh and ready for another sip. Very good.

This costs around 9 euros a bottle in specialist retail stores in France which ain't cheap for cider but this is very good. I have seen it available in the US for around $15.


  1. I feel a lot of sympathy for people treating apples – or pears, for that matter - and their fermentation products seriously. There is about as much care needed as for wine (except for getting the fruit). As for the price (0.75 cl bottle?) I can see why you make this comment. On the other hand, the true comparison is not with most other “basic” ciders, but with other drinks producing as much pleasure, if you ask me. I’m very willing to pay a decent price for a good beer (Gueuze, Kriek), let alone a good Crémant, that will come at around the same tag.

  2. Quite. Yes it is a 75cl bottle. One can even find more expensive ciders. Not sure that that is the way to go though. I have a taste for Duvel myself, amongst the more readily avaiable Belgian brews, but there are so many good ones. Can anyone (Luc?) explain why Belgium has been able to preserve the diversity of beer better than anywhere else (parhaps)?

  3. I’m afraid I cannot truly « explain » the survival (yes, even the revival) of a lot of good beers in Belgium. I can only “speculate” about some possible reasons. Even more: Interbrew, this giant of the beer-world, was originally totally Belgian. And large tycoons hardly ever mean top quality.
    First reason: the people here LOVE beer, Walloons as much as the Flemish, and there is hardly any tradition for other fermented or distilled drinks (apart from a little bit of “Jenever”, our gin): no wine, no cider, no whisky, no brandy, no wodka ....
    Second reason: the presence of hop (arguably the best in the world) and of the needed cereals (barley, wheat, “épeautre” ...), as well as sugar beet.
    Third reason: the persistence of beer brewers amongst the monks’ communities (either real “trappists”, or just abbey beers following traditional recipes)
    Fourth reason: the enormous quantity of small breweries that used to exist. So, the “thinning out” took a while.
    Fifth: the willingness of our population to pay a decent price for a good glass of ale. In contrast, the Dutch tightfistedness or the American lack of good taste favored the cheap stuff. We could agree that Budweiser and Heineken are two of the world’s worst beers. Yet, look at their sales!
    Finally: image. The same happens to Belgian chocolate.

    Is this good enough?