“Positive sustainability brand message”.
“Natural and pleasant smell”.
“Acidity developing well”.
“Good natural sweetness”.
“Smooth taste and aftertaste”.
“Some distinctive taste variety”.
“No dryness, which was promised”.
“Absent of promised carbonation”.
“Acidity lacking initially”.
“Lacking in complexity”.
“Nothing truly unique”.
Cider reviews are back, with the last one in February, thanks in part to the wonderful time of year with warm weather, and the queens platinum jubilee (70 years of reign and service), festivities occurring.
You can also thank my scavenging ability to hunt out those elusive drinks which I am yet to review from supermarket shelves.
So introducing Leckford estates 2020 Cox’s Apple medium dry vintage cider…
According to Google maps, the Leckford estate is situated on the River Test in Stockbridge, a small Hampshire town.
The Leckford estate was established in 1929, as a cider producing farm.
The cider is produced from only Cox’s apples harvested from the Leckford estate (Waitrose and partners farm), according to the bottle, highlighting that it is a mono-varietal drink.
At times previously, such single variety drinks have lacked complexity and variety, a point I previously reported when reviewing Mortimer’s orchard.
The main USP’s then, appear the type of apple used “Cox’s”, and the fact that the drink is linking environment and farming (LEAF) certified.
LEAF is an initiative focused on more environmentally sustainable farming through cider producers working with farmers, to ensure land is managed sustainably.
We link the full article on LEAF assurances below, under sources.
LEAF is apparently underpinned by integrated farm management (IFM) principles, which consider organisation and planning, crop health, and pollution control. See link below, to read more specific detail.
I must say at first glance I am impressed with the breadth of monitoring and consideration for sustainability this product has, however the specific requirements and targets to be met, do appear absent in many areas. This highlights an area for future improvement. Using terms such as “better”, “effective”, and “more wisely”, appear to illustrate this point well. Fortunately, the Leckford estates website offers some further clarity, noting how areas of plants surrounding apple trees are left to grow to conserve biodiversity, in the apple growing orchards.
If you look at some other brands, specifics of approaches are provided without anything left to the imagination or interpretation.
“Organic” has been previously used on certain other ciders such as Dunkerton’s black fox for example, referring to the creation of ciders which are traceable back to the farm. However, the LEAF certification seems to take that one step further in terms of breadth, yet lacks the clarity evidenced above, in some areas e.g. animal husbandry.
Cox’s Orange Pippin apples are reported to grow in Hampshire, where this ciders’ apples are produced. Whilst from supermarkets it’s reported this variety is often limited in flavour, coxes apples are considered as one of the best dessert apples. Flavour wise, cox is touted as a highly complex and aromatic variety, so I shall hope that this compensates adequately for it being the sole variety included.
The packaging whilst formal, appears lacking in much character, not something which fills you with confidence when hoping for an interesting cider to review.
The cream coloured labels don’t highlight the text well, nor do they blend or contrast with the brown bottle glass. The black top also doesn’t really add anything to the aesthetic appeal.
As for backstory, nothing is evident on the bottle, other than the previously mentioned USP’s.
Price and practicality
I purchased one bottle of the drink for £2.20 in June 2022 from Waitrose, providing 3 units at 6% ABV, per 500ml bottle. The drink therefore wasn’t the cheapest, yet considering recent price increases, this didn’t sound too bad.
It was cheaper for example than Waitrose Duchy Organic Herefordshire 2017 Vintage, which cost £2.09 per bottle, which only gave 2.5 units, meaning you’d want at least 2, setting the evening cost at £4.18. In today’s case only 1 would be necessary, and since that drink was reviewed in 2019, it shows that prices are not much different, highlighting good relative value.
At 3-4 recommended units from the governments older recommendations for safer drinking limits, this bottle sits nicely on the lower end, making it quite practical.
Other than medium dry and lightly carbonated, there aren’t any suggestions of other sensory aspects of the beverage, on the bottle. Going off the profile of the Cox’s apples used, I would also hope for some level of character and complexity.
Distinctive character was specified on the official Leckford estate website in support of this, adding crisp as a taste descriptor, which I previously had defined as considerable tang in my Angry Orchard Rose review.
I shall therefore expect a reasonable acidity level.
So let’s sample the drink …
The smell was pleasant and natural, yet not overly strong. It was ephemeral on each sample, and didn’t highlight sweetness, suggesting some level of character. On subsequent samples, the level of scent remained consistent.
Carbonation was virtually non existent, as suggested by the smell. This may have been excusable if it was labelled as a still cider, but this wasn’t the case, since the drink stated lightly carbonated on the bottle. Acidity levels weren’t overpowering, yet developed into moderate levels, throughout the transition between taste and aftertaste. If anything, acidity was a little weak early on into tasting.
No dryness was evident throughout tasting, nor did it develop into the aftertaste. This wasn’t good, as medium dryness was promised on the bottle.
The drink certainly wasn’t overly sweet or sickly, and any sweetness present was natural. This highlighted good balance and natural flavour.
Mouthfeel was certainly thin, yet the strength of flavour was adequate to avoid watery-ness, appearing full.
Taste and aftertaste appeared nice and smooth, lacking any bitterness.
Whilst the flavour as expected was a little absent in complexity, some variety was present to define the apple variety. I feel multiple apple varieties would have improved complexity however, adding further strengths from other apples.
Since the drink wasn’t overpowering or sickly, it would be nicely session-able.
“Some natural variety, but lacking anything impactful”.
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Dunker-tons black fox
What is moderate drinking ?
Angry orchard Rose review
Integrated farm management
Click to access Alcohol_&_Safe_Drinking.pdf
Leckford estates website
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