Remember when I said that I didn’t drink cider often? Twice in a month is a real rarity. But when it’s this good, I’m always keen 🙂
Martin from Pilton was kind enough to send me a bottle of their award-winning cider, which is a whole juice sparkling cider made by the old English method of keeving. Apples are sourced for low nutrient orchards (which changes their flavour profile) in the Somserset parish of Pilton, and the juice is slowly fermented with wild yeasts.
I’ll admit, I had no idea what keeving is before tasting this bad boy. It’s an *amazing* cider (and look at that gorgeous bottle!); medium dry and crisp, but not too sweet, and the perfect level of bubbles. I of course wanted to know how it was made, which Pilton details perfectly on their website.
“Keeving is a method of cider-making practised in England as far back as the mid 1600â€²s but long since replaced here by large-scale factory techniques. The process has survived in France, however, due to their more stringent rules on cider manufacture.
Fully ripe, bittersweet cider apples are collected and milled as usual but the pulp is left to stand for 24 hours. This maceration period allows the pulp to oxidise and for pectins to be released from the cell walls. The pulp is then pressed to give a thick, dark juice; rich in flavour.”
After a few days, a pectin gel, called the chapeau brun in France, floats to the surface and clear juice can be extracted from below. The gel is discarded along with most of the actively fermenting yeast and the nutrients it needs to fully ferment the apple sugars into alcohol. The result is an only-partially-fermented cider that retains much of its refreshing apple flavour and soft taste – which means that it tastes more juicy than your average.
We had this as an aperitif before lunch, and it was perfect. Pilton is available in three bottle sizes; 75cl standard bottle, 150cl magnum and 37.5cl half bottle, and can be found at specialist shops and online from this site.