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06th June, 2022

A sparkling, champagne-style cider from Tor Cider of Worth, on the Somerset Levels west of Wells, has been adjudged the Supreme Champion British Cider in the British Cider Championships at the Royal Bath and West Show. Branded simply as ‘S’, it triumphed over some 430 rivals to carry off the top prize at Britain’s biggest cider competition.

“I could hardly believe it when I got the call to say that we had won”, said James Cumming, who runs the parent business, Fenny Castle Vineyard.

“We knew it was a good cider, because of all the time and trouble that went into making it. The first fermentation was in new American oak, which produced sensational base cider, with incredible acidity, softened by a delicious vanilla note.

“As per our wine, the second fermentation was in the bottle using a champagne yeast, followed by six years ageing on the lees.”

The result is a cider which Chairman of the Judges, David Sheppy, described as “fresh, vibrant, deliciously fruity with just a hint of vanilla and salt”

Unusually for a cider from Somerset, where bittersweet apples normally rule, the winning cider was made from organic Bramley apples, so providing the acidity which is essential for this style of cider.

Mr Cumming was presented with his trophy, the Rupert Best Cup, by Professor Geoffrey Dixon, representing the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers.

The other big prize, the Pewterers’ Trophy for the Champion British Farmhouse Cider, went to another Somerset cider-maker, Moon’s Cider of West Pennard, with a medium dry cider made partly from their own apples and partly from apples from other orchards within two miles of the family small-holding.

“We’ve been entering the championships for several years, but I never expected in my wildest dreams that we would win anything”, said cider-maker Tom Moon.  “Winning this trophy is the high point in my cider-making life so far.”

The Trophy was presented by Mr Richard Hills, Master of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers, who said how delighted his livery company was to be able to support the thriving artisan and traditional cider industry.

Runner-up in the supreme championship was the bottled Dabinett Cider with which Harry’s Cider, of Long Sutton, won the top prize back in 2018.  It also won the Arthur Davies Cup for best presented single variety bottled cider.

Receiving the awards, Alison Chapman of Harry’s Cider said that the Dabinett apple was a particular favourite of the family firm:

“It was developed by Mervyn Dabinett who lives only a few miles from us, at Mid-Lambrook. and we use it in a number of our ciders in addition to the single variety cider. It brings some great qualities to the taste and depth of the cider, together with plenty of rich tannins.”

Other trophy winners in the championships were:

  • Cider Newcomer Award – Steve Faulkner of Glastonbury
  • The Westons Cider Cup for wood-aged cider – Paul Rendell
  • The Laurence Reilly Cup for Champion British Perry – Alex Hill, of Bollhayes Cider, Dunkeswell
  • The Vigo Trophy for Champion Apple Juice – Orchards Farm Ltd of Cheshire

This year, for the first time, gold, silver and bronze awards were made to all of the entries which, in the judges’ opinion, had reached the required standard, regardless of whether they were class winners or reserves.  And, as testimony to what the Chairman of the Judges, David Sheppy, said was a continuing increase in the overall quality of the entries, no fewer than 57 ciders, perries and apple juices were given gold awards.

“In many classes, the judges found it incredibly hard to pick a winner, so high has been the quailty of the entries,” said Mr Sheppy.  “The new awards system means that all of those entries which just missed out on winning will still receive the recognition which they and their makers deserve.”

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