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our cider and apple juices

Paul, the cider maker, is a graduate of the Cider Academy. His vision is to maintain high quality throughout the whole production chain; starting from apple tree planting, through apple handling and cider making, to packaging.

Alan Stone, in his definitive 'Somerset Cider Handbook’, describes Wattles Cider: Paul started the process of getting underway with his cider making as long ago as 2000 when he planted his first 40 tree orchard. He chose his varieties by tasting the apples first in the belief that if he didn’t like the taste of the apple then he would not like the cider. Fortunately this interesting approach led to him settling on the excellent Kingston Black. Ninety percent of his trees are Kingston Black mixed with 10% Ashton Bitter and Sweet Coppin to provide a blend that he feels is ideal for his cider. The care of the apples and trees are a big part of Paul’s cider philosophy. All the apples for his cider are picked up by hand after knocking off the trees – he does not even use the windfalls. Obviously these new standard orchards are only slowly coming into production and this has given time for Paul to experiment with his cider making. He first obtained a traditional press and crushers and fermented his cider in wood. However, as he says, this led to a product that tasted rather like ‘scrumpy’ and was definitely not what he was seeking. He believes in making a cider that is 100% juice with absolutely no additives or sweeteners. He also discovered that food manufacturing regulations actually prohibit the use of much old equipment as no contact with iron is allowed. He now takes his apples to a facility near Glastonbury with a modern stainless steel belt press, who cleans down before his apples are processed, and the juice is fermented in white plastic in 1000 litre batches – at the moment a single batch though he expects to go to 2000 litres in 2010. He believes this enables the high standards of hygiene that is essential for the premium product he is striving to achieve.

From the evidence of the tasting I had the cider itself is a very pleasant light and clean coloured cider and fermented out very dry. This fits with his aims of a crisp dry cider though to my personal taste I would prefer a bit of residual sweetness to bring out the apple flavours. Paul sells a small amount at the farm gate and to local people for parties and functions. However, his target market is for bottled cider sold into restaurants, possibly along side the Wiltshire Horn meat, and through contacts he has in the north of France. He is currently bottling in 75cl wine bottles but thinks he may try 33cl bottles to provide individual glass sized portions.

With his clear aims and high aspirations for a pure cider you have to wish Paul well. It may appear to be taking him time get fully under way but the old adage has always been that a good wine is worth waiting for.”

Wattles cider and apple juices reflect the micro-climates and range of apples from each of our five orchards.

Wattles cider making methods focus upon the great traditions of the past and especially of the late 17th century, when refined Somerset cider was considered superior to many French wines. We use only the finest freshly pressed apples and hygienic non-oxidative fermentation methods, followed by maturation in French-oak barrels to give a cider that is as every bit as good as the best wines. Results from a pressing of last years Kingston Black apples produced an aromatic dry cider, an ideal substitute for wine.

2008 saw Wattles moving into a new exciting product 'Cider-Apple Juice' where our single orchard range of Wattles cider apples give the non-alcoholic drink a grown-up complexity and depth, just as it does in red wine, making our cider-apple juice especially suited to drink with food.

Wattles won a 'Silver Medal' for its 'Cider Apple Juice' at the prestigious 2009 ‘Taste of the West Awards’. Wattles Cider-Apple Juice is made from hand picked Kingston Black, Sweet Coppin and Ashton Bitter cider apples grown at Wattles own orchards. The resultant blend of these juices produces a unique juice that is both powerful and has an intense freshness upon the palate. The Taste of the West judges said, "It smells cidery and has a good appearance and good texture. It is dry with a sour aftertaste which is nice."