HARVESTED BY HAND
The quality of the fruit we bring to the press has a paramount influence on the quality of cider we produce.Hand harvesting ensures only the best fruit is selected at the optimum point of maturity depending on the variety & style of cider. We handle the fruit with great care and ensure no rotten apples make their way to the press. At harvest, the age of the tree, the apple varieties, their balance of acidity, sugar & tannins, and their maturity at time of picking are all taken in to account and have been meticulously recorded. These variables create different styles of cider and lend themselves to different methods of production.
METHODE TRADITIONELLE (the Champagne method)
We hand pick early-ripening varieties with fresh acidity, like Ben's Red, to create a clean and refreshing style. Following the primary fermentation, at the point of bottling, we analyse residual fermentable sugar remaining in the base cider and add the champagne yeast and sugar required to produce fine bubbles that become trapped in the bottle during secondary fermentation.
We use the traditional technique of riddling, as used by cellar masters for centuries, giving each bottle a 1/8 turn each day, with a short shake, twist & tilt to ensure the champagne yeast sediment accumulates in the neck of the bottle ready for disgorging. Disgorging is the removal of the yeast sediment in order to obtain perfectly clean, clear sparkling cider. It requires very quick, precise removal of the temporary cap. Any liquid lost is replaced by a dosage.
PETILLANT NATUREL (& the ancient method of keeving).
No yeast, sugar or sulphite are added to this wildly aromatic cider, that readily displays the characteristics of the apple varieties that go in to making it.
In the depths of winter we carefully select the latest-ripening apple varieties, searching for those with enough tannin and acidity to balance a high level of residual apple sugars. We wash and sort them meticulously to help ensure only the wild yeasts that we want are present.
After milling, we macerate the apple pulp, which enables pectin to leach from the apple cell walls in to the juice, and develops a deep, rich amber colour. Maceration helps to encourage the ancient technique of keeving, which weakens the natural wild yeast fermentation enough for us to safely bottle the cider before the yeasts have finished consuming the apple's natural sugars, while a long, slow fermentation is still happening. Creating cider with just a slight sparkle, containing only the apple's natural sugars.