While Somerset and Herefordshire took one champion trophy apiece at the British Cider Championships held at the Royal Bath & West Show last week, Dorset scored two trophies, and the reserve Supreme Champion hailed from Northern Ireland.
A beautifully balanced medium cider from Blackmore Vale Cider picked up the Supreme British Champion title, beating Kilmegan Cider from County Down, taking second place.
With over 500 entries this year, Orchards & Cider Chairman Anthony Gibson OBE said this year's results showed this 'vibrant industry' is 'moving out of its traditional heartlands'.
'I said when I was selecting the cider for the competition that I'd got a good one for this year,' said Blackmore Vale’s Alan Berry. 'I'd tasted the different barrels and picked one that was absolutely right.'
Dorset Nectar performed a clean sweep of the Organic category with its Top O' the Hill scooping the Champion Organic Cider trophy, and its medium sweet Wildcat Cider coming in second. Bridport-based, the family farm used to supply Taunton and Gaymers with its fruit, but now produces 80,000 litres of its own cider, with over half going into bottles.
The Farmhouse Cider Trophy, for a cider from the 2015 vintage, went to Dorset's Cranborne Chase Cider, while another Bridport-based cidery, West Milton Cider Co, took gold in the inaugural outing for the Flavoured Cider category with its Berry Black cider.
Somerset's Sheppy's Old Conky won the gong for good looks, aka the ‘Cider Judged on Taste & Presentation’, while Herefordshire scored the top two perry awards, with Butford Organics scooping the British Champion Perry trophy for its Aurora Premier Crus, and Once Upon A Tree coming in second with its Chapel Pleck.
On the global stage, Spain reigned supreme, with the bottle-conditioned Valle, Ballina y Fernandez beating a strong performance from Uncle John’s Cider Mill, Russet, from Michigan, US. 'The entire flight was incredibly good,' said international judge Pete Brown. 'With this one, however, the elegant bubbles and gentle apple notes gave this an extra level of complexity.'
With assistance from award-winning global cider specialist Bill Bradshaw, expect changes in the international section for the 2017 championship said Gibson, in this, ‘the greatest cider show on earth’.
And join Bill Bradshaw at Imbibe Live on 5 July for his international cider masterclass