Harry’s Cider, a Somerset-based family producer established in 2012, beat off 100s of entries to win the 2018 British Cider Championship at the Royal Bath & West Show on 31 May.
Harry’s Single Variety Dabinett was named Supreme British Champion Cider following a lengthy final judging session. Medium and sparkling, ripe apple notes sit alongside medium astringency.
While farming had been in the family for generations, Harry Fry only began producing cider commercially when he needed to diversify his farming activities. Always highly regarded, Dabinett is more often found in blends. ‘It’s traditionally quite high in tannins which is not ideal [for single variety cider] but for some reason our’s doesn’t accentuate the tannins,’ said Fry. A family business with partner Alison Chapman and son Toby, Harry’s Cider farms 25 acres of apples. While some are sold to others, they keep all the Dabinett. ‘We wish we had more of them!’
Reserve Supreme Champion went to the boutique-sized Halfpenny Green Cider in Stourbridge for its Florin, a beautifully presented, naturally sweet, bottle-conditioned cider in 75cl format.
Elsewhere, Kentish Pip, recently profiled in these parishes, picked up the Gold in the Dry Farmhouse category with its first foray into dry territory, the soon-to-be-launched Woolton Dry. Crafted from a cider/dessert variety blend, this will appear in 75cl sharing format.
Nick Poole of West Milton Cider Co in Dorset followed up last year’s Supreme Champion Trophy by winning the Farmhouse Draught Trophy with his medium cider, aka Dorset Starlight. ‘The Dabinett in the mix always provides soft tannins and a good balance between sweetness and acids,’ he told Imbibe.com
Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry picked up the Champion Perry Trophy for his Keeved Sweet Season 2016. Oliver, who returns to Imbibe Live as its Cider Ambassador on 2 July, put the award down to ‘the beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity. It’s just right.’ With a relatively low abv (typically, a proportion of pear sugars are unfermentable), ‘you can’t rely on the alcohol for the oomph,’ he said. ‘I think its one of the best perries I’ve produced.'
In the ‘ones to watch’ corner, Shed Cider picked up the inaugural Best Newcomer Trophy, also scooping Silver in the Sweet Cider category. Based in Devizes, Roger and Karen Blake are gearing up for sales over the next year.
Meanwhile the Bath & West International Cider Championship saw a strong leap in entries under the stewardship of Imbibe’s Educator the Year, Gabe Cook. Again, it was a relative newcomer who was crowned International Cider Champion. Killahora Orchards, based near Cork in Ireland, won with its Johnny Falldown Wild Apple Bouché, which showed great depth and complexity (killahoraorchards.ie). Reserve International Cider Champion went to Willie Smith’s Kingston Black from Tasmania, with Trabanco from Asturias, Spain, among the Gold winners with its Poma Áurea Brut Nature (mevalco.com).
Full results available at: http://britishciderchampionships.com/results
Gabe Cook will be joining Tom Oliver and other leading cider experts at Imbibe Live, 2-3 July.
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