I picked up a bottle of Pilton Cider at a food fair in Exeter early this year but only finally got around to tasting it this week. I wish I hadn’t waited so long!
Made in the noble 450 year old but not often used method of keeving, where the milled apple pulp and juice are allowed to macerate (stand) for up to 24hrs, places Pilton in my opinion firmly at the vanguard of premium UK cider production. Over the winter when the wild yeasts are doing their work, this humble apple juice pressed from 88 different varieties transforms into the sort of aperitif that other “aperitifs” wish they could be. It’s hard to believe that it’s only 5.5% abv yet packs so many layers of flavour. Pilton simply leaves most other ciders I’ve tried out in the cold.
It’s a lovely amber gold, and when I poured into the glass, a foam of what appeared to be a dense meringue frothed up. Never have I seen such luxuriant bubbles on a head of cider! On the nose those vagabond yeasts are still frolicking merrily in the hayloft, while earthy woody mushrooms sprout in the beams. On the palate it’s refreshing apple resonance is clear, yet it is transformed, evolved into a beverage that literally pulses with charm, depth and character. You get mature apple, earthy woodiness and subtle spicy floral notes. Its texture is creamy yet fresh and all the while your mouth is tickled by those ever present bubbles.
Pressed in 2012 bottled in 2013, the smart spare packaging with the classic cork and wire cage exude class and refinement. In my humble opinion owner Martin Berkeley is producing a cider of the complexity, dryness and balance that truly competes with quality sparkling wine. No small feat.
As I said this is the perfect aperitif, alone or with nibbles of the nutty or cheesy persuasion. But really this stuff is so fine you could carry it through a whole meal. Grilled pork, roast chicken, fish and chips but onto to dessert as well in the form of tarte tatin, bread and butter pudding or good stinky cheeses.
I cannot recommend Pilton highly enough and most certainly will be stocking on up on some. I suggest you do the same…