If you’re an Australian interested in food, even in the slightest bit, you will know the name Maggie Beer. More than a celebrity cook, Maggie Beer is a champion of the produce of the Barossa Valley. Now she has added a cider to her pantry of gourmet goodies.When I saw it on the shelf I asked myself “Is this made by Beer, or is her brand jumping on the band wagon?”I’m sitting at my desk at work, my phone rings with a private number. Odd but I’ll answer it.
“Hello Hugh, It’s Maggie Beer here.”
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. We started talking about why a cider was added to her range of products. The answer was surprising. There was a 40-year-old orchard next to Maggie’s property. Her children grew up playing in the apple and pear trees. The owners were not able to make use of the fruit. The trees were destined to be bulldozed. Beer stepped in and made a sentimental purchase. Even sentimental orchards must earn their keep. Today they produce dried peaches and nectarines as well as Perry and this Heritage Apple Cider. This is the fourth year for the cider. Over the 4 years Maggie has been on a steep learning curve about cider. Bearing her name, she has complete control of the cider. It’s her call when they pick the apples. Only good apples make it to the juicing, no windfalls are collected.
Although it’s called Heritage Apple cider its primary made from Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, not traditional cider apples. The Granny Smith is earning its place as a traditional Australian cider apple. Maggie wants this cider to be enjoyed like a wine, on a table with food. The champagne yeast adds to the wine like qualities.
80 trees, of well-recognized cider apple varieties have recently been planted and will add more tannins to future vintages.
I had to ask Maggie the hard question.
There is No Concentrate. No concentrate, No Concentrate! Do you want me to say that again? NO CONCENTRATE
The first impression reminds me of traditional British still cider. Very much like the Herefordshire still ciders I drank with the boys from Edinburgh Cider View at the Jolly Judge. A dark and heavy quince like aroma. Compared to those Herefordshire stills it lacks the funk. This may be a deliberate move to make it more approachable.
The first thing I notice is the dryness up front with bag loads of residual sweetness, a trait more noticeable as your glass warms. Some nice traditional traits are forward and well pronounced, highlighted by gentle tartness. There is just something bugging me with the residual sweetness. It’s just hanging there, it begging to be paired with something. Maggie mentioned she wanted to add quince to the cider but was persuaded not to. It would be hard to go wrong matching this with a soft cheese and quince paste. The Golden Delicious apples make up the majority of the flavour and texture. Beer was shooting for a wine like mouth feel, the Heritage Apple cider has a more substantial mouth feel than many white wines.
Final Thoughts on Maggie Beer’s Heritage Apple Cider
Maggie Beer has built her name on 2 things; promoting the produce of the Barossa Valley, and teaching people how to cook with those ingredients. The Heritage Apple Cider is no different. The back label has a little recipe for a cider and mint cocktail.
This year vintage will have a different sized bottle. Unfortunately for a table cider it’s a 330ml bottle and not a 750ml. Australians love wine, rightly so we make some bloody good drops. Our ciders can more than hold their own around the dinner table. The Heritage Apple cider is more substantial than many ciders of its peers. This is a table cider and not a session cider. A good introduction into that genre at that.
It’s clear that if Maggie Beer puts her name on a product she is proud of it. You can tell that she is in control of this cider.