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Harvest Time | Natural Cider | Swiss Biodynamics | Yet More Skin (Contact)!

The Fruits of the Year's Labour

It is harvest time in the vineyards of Europe.  The biodynamic wines love this time of year, they seem to come to life and taste so fresh and alive and full of promise.  The wines can sense the harvest is coming in!  It is a time of year for joy and celebration as growers can start to see the result of their labours over the previous year.  Of course, it is also a nervous time as they pray for good weather to pick and hope for good quality fruit even when the year may not have been kind.
Us merchants and winos feel the excitement too.  Often new vintages from the previous year are released at this time after 6 months or so maturing in barrels and then some time in bottle before release.  We are contemplating the 2019 wines whilst tasting the 2018s!  There is also a sense of transition from the Rose and crisp white of the summer to more autumnal wines, savoury earthy reds, darker more mature whites and of course delicious and alternative ORANGE WINE!

ORANGE WINE: Getting some skin contact
Orange or skin contact wine as it is sometimes called is great at this time of year.  Its colours match the turning leaves on the trees, its aromas are full of earth and mossy vitality and its yeastiness makes you think of freshly fermenting wines bubbling with wild yeast.
As well Orange wine, in the Orchards of Europe, Natural Cider producers are hard at work too.  Biodynamic cider is growing in popularity and has many of the same characteristics of great natural wine and in particular skin contact wine.  We love our cider as an alternative to wine with food where you can save on the alcohol whilst sacrificing nothing in flavour and pleasure.
Read on for some more info on orange wines, some great natural ciders and some amazing new vintages from our top Bio producer in Switzerland, Chappaz.  Cin Cin!


Chateau de Hauteville, Normandy, Eric Bordelet

In 1992, Eric Bordelet, the head Sommelier at the 3 Michelin Star Arpege in Paris was convinced by none other than Didier Dageneau that he could make world class natural cider from his family's ancient orchards in southern Normandy. He grows more than 20 varieties of apple and 15 varieties of pear on the 24 hectare biodynamic estate.  Some of the trees are 300 years old and he harvests manually and favours natural fermentation in the bottle with a minimum of added sulphites. The property is situated on broken Schist and Granite, sedimentary rock dating back to the Précambrian era. These ciders are a far dry from the heavily carbonated, thin, confected nasty products that flood the market and give people headaches.  These ciders are to be enjoyed much like a fine natural wine, with food they are superb, think Pork and Apple, Mature English Cheeses, try the Granit Poiree with an apple crumble! - The ciders are beautifully clean, yet mature, full of rich fruit and layered complexity.

Thornborough Yorkshire Cider: Kingsley Ash

Kingsley Ash takes natural production very seriously. Not only do all the apples have to be from Yorkshire (and no cooking apples!), but then he doesn't use any sulphites or preservatives which in cider making particularly in the UK is pretty rare. He doesn't pasteurise or mess around with his apples. He works with over 70 different varieties including such beauties as the Annie Elisabeth, the Bloody Ploughman, the Catshead, the Dog Snout, the Duke of Devonshire, the Howgate Wonder, the Irish Peach, John Standish, Keswick Codling, Lady’s Finger of Lancaster, the Scrumptious, Strawberry Pippin and Yorkshire Beauty!

He likes things as natural as possible and trades apples for cider with the locals to keep the prices down and keep it all close to home. His family have their own orchard a few metres from the house and he has converted his shed into a super clean and concise cider making operation.  Even the shed roof is made of recycled plastic bottles as he likes to work in a very ethical way, minimise waste and his carbon foot print.  Kingsley is inspiring us and we are investigating how as a business, we can reduce our carbon foot print and environmental impact.  We are fazing out all kinds of unnecessary packaging and paraphernalia so all we have is delicious natural product in recyclable glass and cardboard boxes.
Kingsley's ciders really are mouthwateringly fresh, alive and scrumptious and with English Cheeses, (our recommendation is a mature St James, made by Nicola Robinson and Martin Gott up in Cartmel, you can buy it from our friends at The Courtyard Dairy), they are absolutely superb.

Three in a Row from Decanter!

Thank you so much to all our customers for your support and for loving natural wines.