About the 2017 Vintage
Above average temperatures and low rainfall in Spring 2017 benefitted the perry pear blossom, and our trees escaped the worst of several sharp overnight frosts at the end of April. Summer was generally unsettled with many cloudy, wet days and high winds, apart from a short heatwave at the end of June. A return to warm, dry sunny weather in September and October made for easy harvest ground conditions. Widespread frosts and snow during a cold snap in late November and December gave us perfect low temperatures (i.e. consistently below 12 degrees) for ‘keeving’ our ‘Normandy method’ sparkling cider.
We started pressing Thorn perry pears on 11 September, a week earlier than 2016. Aylton Red, Blakeney Red and Gregg's Pit (our ‘home’ perry pear variety) all cropped prolifically, and we also had good crops of the late harvest Butt and Oldfield. But it was a poor year, in terms of volume and quality (e.g. low sugar levels), for the mid-season of Barnet, Brandy, and Winnals Longdon.
2017 was an ‘hit year’ for cider apples locally and we sourced enough Browns Apple, Kingston Black and Sweet Coppin to press 530 litres of our favourite draught cider blend, and a 300 litre vat of Kingston Black single variety. Late harvest Chisel Jersey, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and White Close Pippin all cropped well and we took full advantage to make 1200 litres (25% more than in 2016) of our ‘Normandy method’ sparkling cider.
Our total production was 5680 litres of which there are 3580 litres of perry and 2100 litres of cider.
We sell most of our draught products through our wholesalers to CAMRA beer and cider festivals across England, and direct to our customers at Gregg’s Pit and at food and drink festivals in the Marches.
We supply our draught products to the retail trade at wholesale prices as follows:
Draught cider @ £10.50/gallon – purchaser to supply 5 gallon tub
Draught perry @ £11.00/gallon – purchaser to supply 5 gallon tub
10 or 20 litre ‘bag-in-box’ draught cider @ £2.75/litre (inclusive of packaging)
10 or 20 litre ‘bag-in-box’ draught perry @ £3.00/litre (inclusive of packaging)
The advantage of the ‘bag-in-box’ is that it’s a double skin food grade plastic bag inside a robust biodegradable cardboard box with no risk of spoilage.
Draught cider & perry
'Normandy Method' sparkling cider & perry
This production method was a new venture for us in 2005. We have continued to develop and refine our process and these products are now much in demand. We mill the fruit and then set it aside to ‘macerate’ for up to 24 hours before pressing. We add a special enzyme to the tank before filling with raw juice and then a small quantity of calcium chloride is added about 36 hours later. We then pump it top and bottom to create a continuous closed circulation for 40 minutes. The result is a brown pectin-calcium gel (known as ‘Le chapeau brun’ or ‘brown hat’), which forms on the surface of the freshly pressed juice and absorbs the nitrogen and vitamins that would otherwise provide nutrient for the wild yeast.
After 10-15 days, when ‘Le chapeau brun’ is well formed (it can be up to 10 cm thick and is ready when brown and ‘crusty’), a clear, nutrient poor and slow fermenting juice can be racked off from underneath it. This will be suitable for final racking, filtration and bottling at a specific gravity of 1015 after 6-9 months to produce a bottle conditioned medium to medium-dry cider/perry with a slight yeast deposit.
We will release 900 litres of our Dabinett & Yarlington Mill 2017 ‘Normandy method’ naturally sparkling cider, 300 litres Brown Snout, Chisel Jersey & White Close Pippin 2017 ‘Normandy method’ naturally sparkling cider, and 500 litres of bottle conditioned sparkling perry in Summer 2018. They will be available in a full weight champagne style bottle with mushroom cork and wire closure in 375ml, 75cl and 150cl ‘magnum’ bottle formats.
'Champagne Method' bottle fermented perry
We made our first ‘Champagne Method’ bottle fermented perry in 2001.
In October 2016 we laid down 330 x 75cl bottles of our favourite ‘house’ blend of Aylton Red, Blakeney Red & Gregg’s Pit for a second in-bottle fermentation. This product had a first fermentation in barrel during autumn/winter 2015/16 and a second in bottle fermentation during 2016/17 prior to remuage and disgorging at Three Choirs Vineyards Ltd in April 2018.
The 75cl bottle format is the same as for the bottle conditioned sparkling perry with the addition of a gold foil. We released this product for sale in May 2018 @ £8.70/75cl bottle (wholesale).