Down on the Mornington Peninsula Matt and Ruth Gallace began by blending fruit from the family farm at Sunny Ridge Strawberries with local apples to make their Cheeky Rascal Cider range. But it's their latest baby, the Methode Traditionelle Cider, that unexpectedly took out a gold medal and was named champion cider at the 2014 Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards. Using granny smith apples and traditional champagne techniques, the cider is fermented in oak barrels and aged in the bottle. The result is a delicate semi-dry sparkling cider free of additives and full of flavour.
750ml, $29, rebellowines.com.au
Striped stylish packaging makes Endless Cider stand out from the pack. The spritzy, toffee apple-tasting cider has a clean palate and refreshing tartness. It's the brainchild of Sasha and Danae Goldsmith, who produce the brew with a Gippsland sparkling maker. The couple, who have a wine background, were inspired by a trip to Britain in 2012. They use 100 per cent Gippsland fruit with golden delicious, red delicious and granny smith apples. The cider is fermented with champagne yeast and has no concentrates, artificial flavours, sweeteners or colouring. It's already sold in venues such as Chin Chin, Dandelion and Uncle.
Four pack x 330ml, $14.49, endlesscider.com.au
Bress cider hails from the apple-growing region of Harcourt. Maker Adam Marks is a winemaker who branched into cider after discovering 40-year-old apple and pear orchards on his property. He farms biodynamically and treats his cider with minimal intervention. Fermentation is with indigenous yeast strains in oak hogsheads and steel tanks. The Bress Bon Bon cider is a blend of 80 per cent apple and 20 per cent pear. This undergoes a second fermentation in a bottle using the same techniques as those used in champagne making. The result is a creamy complex cider.
750ml, $20, bress.com.au
Napoleone & Co cider. Photo: Kerrie O'Brien
The winemaker at Yarra Valley's Punt Road wines, Behn Payten, decided to try his hand at craft cider-making in 2008. Napoleone Cider, named after the vineyard owners, uses fruit from their own orchards, established in 1948. Containing no concentrates or added sugars, the cider is made on site. Perhaps the pick of the lot is Napoleone & Co Yarra Valley Apple Cider, a blend of granny smith, pink lady, fuji and sundowner. Produced in small batches, it has crisp apple aromas and a refreshing dry finish.
$89 for 24 x 330ml, napoleonecider.com.au
Though it's difficult to choose, the Classic Cider is probably her favourite, says Sheryn Mock, who runs the Mock farmgate store on the Mornington Peninsula. Sheryn is the fifth generation of the family that has been growing apples since 1895. Her dad, Neville, is the orchardist and cider maker. Made from the fruit of a single orchard in Red Hill, the ciders contain no added sugar, colours or flavours. Using pink lady apples from the biodynamic farm, the Classic Cider is vibrant, full of flavour, well balanced, light and floral.
$6 for a 330ml bottle, mockredhill.com.au