How We Do It
Like wine we are driven by the land (terroir) and of course primarily the fruit we gather and everything we do revolves around that. The rewilding, the bees we keep, the planting of trees, the way we have brought more biodiversity to the land we manage, the neglected trees we are bringing back into more fruitful production, it is all integral to the ciders we produce.
Fruit quality is vital to us and is either hand harvested or pressed within a day of being shaken from the tree and only apples of near eating quality are used. Many cider makers claim it doesn't matter but we vehemently disagree.
With that in mind we have recently planted nearly six acres of apple and pear orchard at a low density amongst a larger planting of native woodland trees, in order to give us even more control over the fruit we use in the future.
We are always mindful of the annual variation in the apples we gather and we take careful note of the varieties we gather along with the balance of acidity, sugar and tannin and we use this knowledge when we blend, not only to create consistency of quality, but to also make decisions such as whether to take advantage of wild fermentations or to use cultured yeasts, as well as how and how long to mature for, but that said, what we get is very much dictated by nature and no two years are ever quite the same.
We are particularly mindful that exceptional crops deserve special treatments sometimes in batches as small as a single barrel.
Some of our finest blends are destined for Method Traditionelle which is the very method used to make the worlds most famous sparkling wine, Champagne.
We select blends with a bright acidity and bold tannins which will survive the extended periods of maturation
Like champagne once primary fermentation is over we reprime with sugar and carry out a second fermentation in the bottle adding a cultured specialist champagne yeast which produces a particularly fine mousse, also like champagne the cider is then left to mature sur lie for a minimum of eighteen months before the process of riddling is started. Riddling is the action where by every day for about six weeks each bottle is twisted a 1/4 turn and progressively inclined towards the vertical, neck down. this means the sediment and yeast accumulates in the neck of the bottle. It is then ready for disgorging. This involves freezing the neck and then removing the cap whilst turning the bottle back, right way up. The pressure from the co2 created during the secondary fermentation forces the plug of ice from the bottle and with it the sediment, leaving a perfectly clear cider. The bottle is then topped back up with a tirage made up of some of the original cider which has been reserved for the process together with sugar depending on the desired sweetness of the finished product.
Our other Sparkling Ciders and Perries are all bottle conditioned and produced by either repriming a finished dry blend with more sugar and sometimes yeast or using the Methode Ancestrale to produce what is known as Petillant Naturel or more commonly just Pet Nat . This involves bottling a cider before it has finished it's primary fermentation, both methods mean that there will be a yeast deposit in the bottom of the bottle, which can contribute greatly to how a cider will mature.
Again we blend for bolder flavours which will benefit from the extended maturation period.
We also produce some traditional Still ciders and perries which are nearly always removed from the lees and sold perfectly clear and available as either dry or medium.
All of our ciders and perries undergo a period of maturation, before they are released for sale, usually for a minimum period of eight months . This maturation can have a varying effect on the product sometimes maturation is used to mellow or soften the tannins or acidity in a batch and other times it is used to intensify or even impart different flavour profiles.
We are constantly experimenting with maturation using casks which have previously contained a wide range of products from fortified wines to spirits, some of these are looking promising and should be available soon.
We can't at this stage say when as all of our ciders and perries are matured "until they are ready" we let nature take it's course rather than working to a set time agenda.