This spring we thought we'd submit our ciders to a competition in England, to see if we could get some feedback of judges from a different market, palate and history. We chose the Three Counties Show, where the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association puts on an international cider & perry competition each year, and exists for the purpose of improving the quality of cider & perry in England. Since shipping to England is expensive (we dropped $300) we picked just three of our products, Cidermaker's Reserve, Perry Reserve, and Cliffbreaks Blend, as they stood out to us as having the most distinctive characteristics of cider apples and perry pears.
Well, we ended up getting more than just feedback – we actually won medals … two golds and a silver at that! Cidermaker’s Reserve and Perry Reserve, both crafted in the méthode Champenoise, placed first in each of their categories (bottle-fermented cider and bottle-fermented perry, respectively), and Cliffbreaks Blend placed second in the medium-sweet cider category.
The champagne method is new territory for us this year, and so is perry for that matter, but we had some really outstanding flavors come out of the last couple harvests and we wanted to do something extra special to highlight their character. Méthode Champenoise takes a lot more work, but the in-bottle fermentation process helps retain some of the more delicate aromas as well as imparting a smooth, honey-like character. It’s really encouraging to see the extra work pay off with the English judges’ approval!