Have Cider, Will Travel
Dear cider afficionados (and those who have accidentally found themselves here - welcome!) My profuse apologies for the lack of commentary over the last few weeks. I've been preoccupied with quite a challenge: learning a new craft. I've worked in the cider (and latterly wine) industry for the last 9 years. Making, and/or talking about, alcohol is the ridiculously fun occupation I have managed to pursue over the course of this time. But, as happens to all men, we eventually turn into our Dad. For me that means wearing brightly coloured socks, laughing at my own jokes and itching for a change in work/lifestyle every couple of years. It's apparent that I hanker after new challenges and experiences on a frequent basis. It's as a result of this genetic predisposition that I found myself, self confessed cider-fuelled country bumpkin that I am, moving from the wilds of Nelson to New Zealand's capital city to start work as a travel agent. multi-award winning, perry-washed cheese, but he had met the cheese maker, Charles Martell, and attended a wassail at his farm. Charles is based in Dymock, the very same village that I hail from. The thought that a chap on the other side of the world knew of my little village as a result of cider blew my mind. It was somewhat of an epiphany, and was the first time I saw first hand the magic and power of cider to transcend the globe. Upon my return to the UK after finishing my travels, I found myself living in a shed at Broome Farm, home of Ross-on-Wye Cider, learning the craft of cider making under the tutelage of the legendary Mike Johnson. And the rest, as they say, is history. Bold Rock Hard Cider company, which is performing well in the fast-growing US market. It wasn't so long ago that cider was terribly out of vogue, no more so than here in NZ. But, my, how times have changed. I was privileged enough to judge at the New Zealand Cider Championships a few weeks ago. The diversity and standard was utterly breathtaking - ciders made from English cider apple varieties, matured in oak casks, fermented with wild yeasts and so on. Real craftmasnship and quality is starting to emerge. The cider revolution has begun and Wellington is at the forefront. The Ciderologist is attempting to do his bit (and you know he's being serious when he's talking about thimself in the third person). Alongside the judging I have been doing (with future engagements also booked in) I am in talks to undertake a number of talks and tasting in the City in the new year. I was even accosted by the proprietor of my local dairy (corner shop for my English readers), recently, who shouted at me, 'Hey, Mr Cider!' - in reference to an article about me in FMCG magazine. Steel Press Cider is made by the chaps from Crumpet in Courtney place. A touch off dry, lightly hazy and mildly effervescent, I was really impressed by the power, fruitiness and complexity by this cider; no mean feat when dealing with eating apples. A perfect sessionable drink for a warm summer's day (nearly as rare in Wellington as in the UK), this cider demonstrates the quality that can be achieved with good attention to detail, a good pallete and allowing nature to take its course. Secondly, I popped along to the sentational Regional Wines, my local drinks store. They have the best range of cider in the country, featuring New Zealand's finest, as well as quality offerings from England, France and Spain. I selected a bottle of Val de Rance, a Breton classic. Rich and funky, this medium-sweet cider is well balanced with against wonderfully astringent tannins. Although made on the other side of the world from one another, and polar opposites in term of style, these two ciders eptiomise why Wellington is driving the New Zealand cider industry forward at pace - innovation, tradition and passion are present in equal measure. I'll drink to that.