Savanna Dry South African Cider
My continuing cider odyssey went in a most peculiar direction with my first crack at a South African cider. I had no idea that such a thing even existed and felt a little bad for incurring all those food miles. So my hopes were high as I settled down to read Q and sup the apples of the African plains.
Savanna Dry Cider bills itself, like the Keane’s Premium as a "premium" cider. We can confidently read premium as "hoping to compete with Magners". Their schtik is that you drink it straight from the bottle with a slice of lemon a-la Corona beer rather than in a glass with ice. My take on this is that if you need ice or lemons then you're probably not drinking the right cider. But I’m old fashioned like that.
On their website they bill Savanna as a dry cider, which I thought somewhat optimistic, it certainly doesn't have the complexity of a proper dry cider like Wilkins Farmhouse or the champagne dryness of Aspalls Premier Cru. Having said that its a reasonable mass market tipple. Pleasantly inoffensive at 5.5% ABV it fizzes enthusiastically when you pour it. The makers say to drink it from the clear glass bottle with lemon; judging by the initial fizz from pouring, I suspect taking this approach would lead to burping and CO2 concentrations somewhat higher than I enjoy. The colour is a middling orangey.
The taste is medium going towards dryish, with a definite hint of sulphite — probably necessary for the long journey up from Africa. I thought that I could detect a touch of saccharine. Nothing like Strongbow but that not-quite right sweet that you get from artificial sweeteners. The main impression on sipping is of fizz, bubbles and lightness. This is a surface cider, no hidden depths or dark corners. I imagine this is the sort of cider that could be extremely commercially successful. They have certainly thrown money at their website, which is all flash animations and incomprehensible navigation. And the "have with a slice of lemon" worked OK for Sol and Corona. But Savanna felt like that was all there was to it. No soul, or depth. Professional and probably ran fantastically with the focus groups, but fundamentally a bit dull.
2011-05-15 by Charlie Harvey