Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Pilton Cider - 2011

It was around two years ago I happened to stumbled across the Pilton Cider's website. I was randomly searching for new Cider Makers I had never heard of before, and by the end Pilton was the producer which really stood out. It was made in the small parish of Pilton in Somerset by Martin Berkeley, and was naturally keeved and made from over 88 different apple varieties sourced from four heritage orchards. The cider really struck a chord, not only because of its major artisan/boutique appeal, but because the packaging as a whole was so god damn sexy. Talk about majorly judging a book by its cover. It was hard not to be impressed. So over the next year or so, I continually checked in on the website for photos, news, etc. and became even more interested and more desperate to try it. So the dilemma I faced was simple - how the heck do I get some?! When I set my mind to something, I can sometimes be over passionate and tenacious. So I begun trying to devise a cheeky plan to get this cider to Australia. Luckily enough, the Bristol Cider Shop came to my aid and before I knew it, I was the proud owner of a bottle of Pilton Cider (bottle 3311 of 6000). 

Keeving is a process which completely blows my mind. It's a natural process which I am desperate to jump on a plane and head to France and England to witness first hand in action. For a refresher (in very basic terms), keeving is a process where the pectin of apple juice is released from suspension due to oxidation and maceration by enzymes. The pectin forms a gel called chapeau brun and floats to the top of the juice, taking with it yeasts and nutrients. The juice below is essentially ripped of its nutrients, which in turn inhibits yeast activity. This creates a rich tasting juice which will not fully ferment, leaving a naturally sweet, clear and sparkling cider in the bottle with lower alcohols. Sounds easy enough, but a very tricky phenomenon to master and amazing when/if done right.

Now with that science lesson out of the way, lets review the cider! 

The colour gleamed a hazy golden orange, with hints of a greyish sediment on the bottom of the clear bottle. It poured beautifully into the glass, erupting into a nice foamy head which persisted for quite some time.

The nose in my eyes was very 'French' in character - possibly due to the many keeved French cidres I've tried? Initially a huge waft of aldehyde overpowered the nose, but this blew off after a few decent swirls of the glass. Underneath there was lovely floral and sweet aromas with tonnes of candied apple, rich ripe fruit and honey. Some secondary wild ferment funk and spice added depth. I really enjoyed the crisp and fresh features this nose offered. It possessed nice purity but also complexity.

On tasting, the preconception that this cider was going to be very sweet was thrown out the window. A nice burst of fresh apple sweetness was over thrown by a mountain of apple bitterness, tannins and dryness. The bittersweet tannins were powdery and quite drying, but were balanced well with mouth watering acidity. I am wondering if there had been some re-fermentation in the bottle, with it being so dry from the mid to back palate? The structure was also very good, with all the elements balanced perfectly. A nice fine natural bubble was soft and elegant and foamed up across the tongue, and only enhanced the soft apple and honey flavours. A little soapiness was also evident and some warmth from the alcohol rounded off the back palate well.

Was this cider worth all the hassle? Most definitely - no questions asked. The focus was impressive, and you could tell it had been skilfully made. The cider had a 'special' feel about it from the word go. This cider would also be fantastic with a platter of cheese - talk about heaven! Just watch that nose, as it fools you into being super sweet, but bombards you with mouth sapping dryness. Overall, a very pleasurable cider to drink. Happy days!      

Producer: Pilton Cider
Region: England (Pilton, Somerset)
Alcohol: 5.5%
Website: www.piltoncider.com


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