It's hard to believe it’s June and it’s World Cider Week already. After Hong Kong's scorching May we are in the aftermath of a tropical cyclone leaving us hot and steamy in its wake. But with more tropical downpours forecast for the week ahead we have a very good excuse to crack on with drinking decent cider!
The heartland of traditional English cider makers now has that soft and fulsome green that is early summer. In the orchards the apples and pears are showing – hard to believe it was just a month ago that the trees were in full bloom. Cider country is a sight to behold during blossom time.
This is also the beginning of the cider festival season. In the Herefordshire parishes of the Marcle Ridge, the Big Apple is devoted to the celebration of English apples, cider and orchards. One of their annual highlights is the Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials which have become an important competition for the many independent cider and perry producers in the region and beyond.
The day after the this peer-judged blind-tasting event at the Putley village hall, the doors are opened to the public for the annual Blossomtime celebration over the bank holiday weekend. We get to taste a huge range of ciders and perries many of which are quite difficult to get hold of commercially.
It was good meet some of the local cider makers including James Forbes of Little Pomona and hats off to the Bartestree Cider Co for bagging both the Champion Cider Maker and Champion Perry Maker awards. And a big round of applause to Big Apple founder Jackie Denman who has just received the ultimate recognition: a Gold Medal from the Royal Bath & West Show for her Lifetime Contribution to the Cider Industry.
The Big Apple folk had organised perfect weather for us and Gabe Cook the Ciderologist led us in an outdoor guided tasting of four distinctly different single varietal ciders and perries. We enjoyed a Dabinett from Woodredding and a Foxwhelp from Bartestree. On the perry front we had Blakeney Red from Pope’s Perry and from Gregg’s Pit I think we had a Thorn (things were getting a little blurry for me by now).
Back in Hong Kong, last week I was invited to give some more cider training to my cider loving friends at Second Draft in Tai Hang. They offer customers a wide range of ciders and are keen learners about cider. In January I gave them an introductory cider tasting to contrast different cider styles. This time they got to sample some single varietals covering sharps, bittersharps, bittersweets and sweets.
I stock 10 single varietal ciders and perries in Hong Kong and I was able to share a selection with the Second Draft team that included Dunkertons Browns, Breakwells Seedling and Court Royal plus Perry's Morgan Sweet.
In my next newsletter I’ll report on a recent road-trip to the Ross-On-Wye Cider Company where I was able to try an incredible range of single varietals but for now...
...from your Cider Man in Hong Kong,