If you fancy a bit of regional produce you'll love Gospel Green cyder. James and Cathy Lane from Haslemere started making this unique style of English cyder back in 1990 - and when they decided to hang up their aprons the company was bought by one of their fans. Brock Bergius (said fan), under James' watchful eye, is taking the company to new levels.
Unusually for cyder, this is made by the same fermentation method as Champagne and bottled in full-strength Champagne bottles. The apples are pressed in a 150-year-old press and fermented for six months. Then the freshly fermented cyder receives a ‘liqueur de tirage’ – a small amount of cane sugar and Champagne yeast – and is then bottled for at least ten months. A second fermentation occurs inside the bottle: the carbon dioxide is trapped inside, dissolves into the cyder and produces the fizz. As in Champagne, the yeast sediment from the fermentation is removed from the bottle by riddling and the cyder is topped up with a dosage of cyder and cane sugar to make a ‘brut’ style of sparkling cyder: a unique method of production for Britain.
The cyder itself is not like others and very different to ‘cider’. With an alcohol level of 8.5% and a minimum fermentation time of 16 months (six in tank and 10 in bottle), this has a wine-like body and quality with an intense apple flavour and a crisp acidity. There’s also a lasting depth of flavour; unsurprising for something produced by the Champagne method, but not usual for cider. James Lane once pointed out the difference made by using culinary apples grown in the South East, which he believes have less tannin than the West Country cider apple varieties and give a much more wine-like flavour. The result is a drink that is delicious and unique.