Thursday, 9 April 2009

Springtime Spritz

Early April is a time of eager anticipation. The ciders are very nearly ready, Spring pear blossom is poised and ready to unfurl, and our apple trees are on the cusp of leafing-out.

I had a bit of a tasting session in the ciderhouse today. I was particularly interested in the Rockingham Forest Cider, which matures later than the Sulgrave Orchard Cider we've been busily selling since March. The ciders are clearing nicely and are perhaps a little brighter than usual, but there's still a tiny bit of yeastiness which should fade over the coming weeks. To my taste buds, cider is never better than at this time of year, youthful and straight from the fermenter. It has a slight spritz from the gentle fermentation which often occurs in the Spring, and a lovely freshness which will fade as the cider matures and mellows throughout the year. You only really get to experience this zesty 'Cider Nouveau' in the ciderhouse, and I strongly recommend a visit to one of the many farms and producers which open for sales at this time of the year. I usually get my 'early season cider fix' straight from the cask at Mike Johnson's Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Co, but this year I can indulge myself a little closer to home.

Spring blossom time is nearly upon us, the huge pear tree in the village orchard will soon be covered in delicate white blossom. The cider apple trees will flower a few weeks later, but growth continues apace in the nursery. It looks as if we'll have a 100% success rate with the Dabinetts which we grafted earlier this year, and two of the three dessert apples are romping away and leafing-up. The Golden Harvey is the only non-starter, which is a shame as this was the one I most wanted to propagate. Still, seven out of eight isn't bad for a beginner!

News on this year's local Welland Valley Beer Festival continues to trickle out. The poster for the event can be seen on the sidebar of this blog, with a link to the Talbot's website for the latest news. A late addition to the participating pubs is the Marquis of Exeter in the picturesque village of Lyddington. This brings the total for the festival to eight pubs, scattered throughout the Welland Valley and including our local 'Cider-tap' the Red Lion, Middleton. More news as it arrives.

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