Hush Heath is an ward winning winery and estate in Kent who have been producing the international award winning Balfour Brut Rosé since 2004. 400 acres of magical vineyards, orchards (20 acres) and ancient woodlands. The fruit is “hand-picked and tree ripened to perfection, vinified, bottles, sparkled and disgorged by our expert winemakers”. I’m always excited to try ciders made by wine or beer makers, they always bring a different perspective. In this case it seems to be one of youth, as the idea to diversify into cider and beer is one of the youngest son of the producers. I found these two bottles in a local farm shop next to the fine wines. They have recently been rebranded to “Jake’s Orchard Cider” and sit around the £10 mark on their website. I payed £12.95.
Hush Heath Estate – Apple Wine (8%)
Bottle fermented blend of Cox, Russet & Bramley
Colour: Yellow meadow grass
On the nose: Green apples, honeysuckle, kiwi and cantaloupe. Botanical flower garden.
In the mouth: Creamy mousse with notes of vanilla and baked apple. A sharp, crisp zing of acidity skirts an upfront juicy fruitiness. The finish is medium sweet or at least I perceive it to be. The Cox and Bramley definitely stand out with fruit and acidity, Russet on the other hand although not a dominate flavour does add some texture and complexity in the middle I think with a light nuttiness. It’s not all sharp juicy apple.
In a nutshell: a celebratory cider if ever there is one, especially if you like a sweeter finish.
Hush Heath Estate – Apple Wine Rosé (8%)
Same blend as above with the addition of strawberry and blackcurrant. Not clear in what form, juice, concentrate, etc.
Colour: Rosé gold
On the nose: Tonnes of strawberries, you can smell it from across the table. Getting in close there is raspberry and redcurrant and maybe a little flourish of green apples, but the strawberry is the star.
In the mouth: Again it’s the berry fruit, not quite as dominant as the nose but it still over powers the apple fruit. It’s a sweeter finish than the Apple Wine above, still with a nice crisp level of acidity but the apples are hard to point out. The fruitiness of the Cox is there but tempered by berry, the acidity of the Bramley is weakened by the additional sweetness and the Russet I cannot really find. It’s clean, elegant and fresh.
In a nutshell: tennis anyone? This goes with Wimbledon, like strawberries and cream, move over Lanson Champagne.
The refinement and attention to detail of these two is superb. From the branding and elegant bottle labelling to the crystal clear, faultless liquid. Both are on the sweeter side which for me was a shame, especially with the Apple Wine. A dry cider with those fruit varieties would have rivalled Chalkdown, which is still one of my favourite champagne method ciders. Instead I feel a little like these are designed to cater to the more sweeter toothed sparkling beverage fans and let’s face it an Asti can be bought significantly cheaper, not that they’re comparable really, but price versus sweetness and alcohol; that’s the competition. Perhaps that’s why the rebrand, to appeal to a wider audience with a less contemporary label design and calling it “cider” rather than “wine”, although that may help with some of the tax on the Apple version too.
Would I buy again, no, but I much prefer a drier style. If however you like a touch of sweetness on the finish, the pop of a cork and a crisp, refreshing and faultless celebratory drink, then these should be on your shopping list.