Trans Europe (Cider) Express
I'd like to take a quick moment to send some love out to all the parents in the world, especially my own. As the youngest of three, I was (am) that classic fat, young fledgeling chick who doesn't want to leave the nest, but eventually bumbles out, arse over tip. They have been so wonderfully supportive of everything I have done, not least this Ciderologist lark. But they were also massively encouraging in my move to New Zealand a few years back (maybe a little too encouraging. Mmmmm....). This championing of me to leave these shores should come as no wonder, really, for they are a couple who have done some pretty epic travelling of their own. In 1971 they hitched from Toronto to Vancouver, and then onward down the west coast of the US, all the way through Central America and into South America (illegally entering Colombia on a tiny boat under cover of darkness) and then onward all the way to Buenos Aires, before catching a ship back to the UK from Rio de Janeiro. They subsequently lived in Algeria, Saudi Arabia and.....Birmingham. How hardcore is that?! No wonder then that I have the travel gene. I bloody love it. Maybe it's the Geographer in me: the landscape, the sights, the smells, the noises. And now I have the added dimension of cider. When I started The Ciderologist, I knew that the UK was the place to base myself to get things kicked off - it's my home turf. That's a big chunk of why I moved back from NZ. Although, with global politics as it is, my Permanent Residency Visa has never felt more like a get out of jail free card. God bless you NZ Immigration. But I also knew, from living and travelling abroad, that cider's global growth could also mean opportunites to undertake The Ciderologist outside of the UK at some stage. But even I wasn't expecting things to move as quickly as they have done. This summer I have visited Normandy (as a I covered in my last article) and this Autumn I'm going to do a Kraftwerk and ride the Trans Europe (Cider) Express across Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and....(drum roll)....Wales. I'm off to the Global Cider Forum next month in Frankfurt (still a few places left, so sign up quick!). This is going to be a stage whereby cider makers, suppliers and industry analysts will come together to discuss the state of the global cider industry. It'll be a fascinating couple of days, but I'm also really looking forward to trying some authentic German cider in a classic, traditional Cider House. In October I'm off to Luxembourg. I know! Who would have thought that Luxembourg made cider?! Well, there is a longstanding tradition, one leftover from the Romans, and one group of folk, Ramborn Cider Co, is resurrecting the concept of Luxembourgish cider. The company's name is a hybrid of Rambo (a variety of apple) and Born (the town in which the cider farm is based). And would you Adam and Eve it, Sly Stallone's Rambo gets his name from this humble apple. Random fact of the day! What I can tell you so far is that these guys are serious cider makers. Neatly combing new world winemaking techniques with old and interesting varieties to create ciders of some considerable class. I'll be reporting back in October on what I found. And then in the following month I'll be off to Switzerland. Having visited last year and found a big ass perry pear tree on the outskirts of Laussane, it was clear that, once again, there was an established tradition of cider and perry here, but one which has all but fizzled away. Until now. I had the pleasure of meeting Jacques Perritaz from Cidrerie du Vulcain recently, and had the opportunity to taste some outstanding perry that he had made. A light, floral nose is followed by bold stone fruit characters and a neat, mineral finish. Serious stuff. I'm going to be teaming up with the awesome Elderton & Getränke to undertake tasting sessions across the country over the course of a few days in November. Details coming soon at Ciderhouse.ch - stay tuned! Last, but by no means least, I'll undertaking my most fearsome road trip to date - into the wilds of Wales. Despite growing up about 15 miles from the border, I have ventured over it on too few occasions, and never before on a cider mission. Amongst many others, I'll be popping down to see my old friends Annie and Andy Hallett who have promised to put me to work in the cidery. This could be their best vintage yet!