by Malcolm Jolley

Saint-Nicolas Rosé Crackling Cider.

Cider is clearly the new, um… well, I don’t know what, but it appears to be on trend or something since none other than brewing giant Labbatt’s (a.k.a. IntBev… I think, it’s hard to keep track) have launched a mass-appeal hard cider under their Alexander Keith’s brand. Obviously looking for a touch of class, Labbatt’s hired on regular GFR contributor and super-sommelier Zoltan Szabo to act as a spokesman for the product and offer his tasting notes and pairing suggestions. Zoltan popped over the other day and we shot the video below, wherein he pours and tastes a glass of the stuff. I tasted it too, off camera, and I agree with his “red apple” notes. I thought it was pretty good, actually, all industrially-made things considered. If I were in a small LCBO in cottage country, I’d pick up a few as a before dinner drink.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

While the Keith’s cider is decidedly mass marketed, another cider to be released into the LCBO’s Vintages program on May 12 comes from quite the other side of the spectrum. And while the Keiths drinks like a beer or a cooler, this one demands sipping like a wine. The Saint-Nicolas Rosé Cider ($19.95/750ml – LCBO# 275362) is from a craft producer on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence, just up river from Quebec City. It’s a lovely, bubbly tart but sweet cider, with strawberry notes and an appleness that strikes me to be closer to MacIntosh than any other varietal. Cider, somehow, brings a lift to the end of the day… or maybe closer to the beginning at brunch – at 8% alcohol by volume the salmon coloured Saint-Nicolas Rosé won’t get you into too much trouble too soon.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Photo: John Gundy.