2015 has started, as all years have started recently, with haste. The first few weeks of January were taken up with coming to terms with the inevitable cold, persistent dark and preparation for lambing.
The cider and perry is sitting in barrels and tanks, fermentations on going, some nearer the finish than others but all still in a transient state, all awaiting the onset of spring and warmer weather, so that the ferments can complete and malolactic changes can occur and some maturation can commence.
By Easter the lambing is pretty much finished. The ewes and lambs are out at grass, that is just showing signs of growth and the Texel lambs are starting to fill out nicely. Thrice daily we are still topping up tiddlers and orphans while daily we put out more creep for lambs, feed the ewes and observe and if necessary treat for any lameness, problem eyes, orf and mastitis. The Herefords and Hereford X cows are calving well and looking forward to getting out on grass too. I know David on The Archers has his Herefords out already but that is just north of us in Borsetshire!
Down to the cider house we prepare orders, either for collection or despatch, then check on the progress of some ciders and perries as we start to bottle, do some back blending and put together some new ones. Already in 2015 we have a new “Yarlington Mill” medium sparkling cider, a single varietal dry “Coppy” perry (only available via our website or at our shop) and a new “Making Hay” cider (our sweeter sparkling) and our latest Vintage cider from 2013 harvest after 18 months in oak, a tasty number with a little more acidity than in previous vintages.
2015 so far has seen some fine new outlets come on board, as well as continued export to Austria, Holland and the USA.
We are just starting to taste some of the new perries made with the early fruit from new bush orchards. So far, not very inspiring if i am honest, so we will do a bit of racking and blending and then baton down the hatches for a few more months to let some development occur.
Last weekend saw a busy trip to London to visit some restaurants, bars, pop up speakeasys, delicatessens, stores and bottle shops. I marvelled at the hours the proprietors and their staff put in and the dedication they show in finding just the right products to sell.
Starting on friday night with our dedicated London bottle merchant, Felix Nash from Fine Cider http://www.fine-cider.com . A big thanks to BAO London http://baolondon.com , The Richmond http://www.therichmondhackney.com , Proper and Sons http://www.properandsons.com/site/ , The Beauvoir Deli http://thedebeauvoirdeli.co.uk , Printers and Stationers http://www.printersandstationers.co.uk , Lyles of London https://twitter.com/lyleslondon (the perry is coming), Elliots at Borough Market http://www.elliotscafe.com , General Store http://www.generalsto.re and an extended stay down at Hop, Burns and Black http://www.hopburnsblack.co.uk where Jen and Glen made me so welcome that i stayed all day while they and their customers suffered my mutated 70’s rock based playlist.
A long very stimulating discussion with the astute and lovely Mary Topp at the New Forest Cider Stand at Borough Market http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/new-forest-cider-2 and http://www.newforestcider.co.uk and a great refreshing glug of their dry Kingston Black cider. A refit of the Borough Market stand is coming in the next few weeks and other very exciting developments down in Hampshire. Proof that you can not stand still and rest on your laurels.
Oliver’s Draught ciders and perries (and some bottles too) are available in London through Alice Churchward at The Real Al Company http://www.therealalcompany.co.uk . Alice has established a great rapport with a host of pubs and off licences and among the visits we made were The Antelope http://www.theantelopepub.com , The Flying Pig (hi Justine) http://www.theflyingpiglondon.com , Finborough Arms http://www.finborougharms.co.uk under the rampant enthusiasm of Jeffrey and Alessio and The Euston Cider Tap http://www.eustontap.com/pages.php?navid=9 where i really would like to see more dry cider on offer.
No doubt here, London is becoming very important(again) for draught cider (and perry) and not for the first time, we have another opportunity to establish more fine bottled cider and perry as the perfect accompaniment to fine foods of many kinds. Just got to make sure it is well made, suitably balanced, perfectly presented and in the hands of the right merchants.