…of bubbles: The bubbles are created by the yeasts in secondary fermentation. Using exactly the same method as for Champagne, the yeasts convert sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
So having first made cider from 100% cider apple juice in his scrupulously clean, stainless steel tanks, Alex, using Champagne bottles and yeasts, stacks the 3000 bottles in the cellar for 2-4 years. Then, slowly, slowly, the bottles must each be turned and up-ended, ready to be dis-gorged of the spent yeast. Once corked, and wired, the cider is ready for you to enjoy at your own pace.
The Cider in detail…
Bollhayes Cider is made from the pure juice of apples grown in our own orchards and in other orchards in and around the Blackdown Hills on the Devon/Somerset border. Great care is taken in the selection of the apples, because the best apples make the best cider.
We aim for a balance of bitter sweet, sweet and sharp fruit. All the apples are hand-picked and immediately prior to pressing they are rigorously sorted with only sound apples used. The apples are milled and then pressed using a traditional hydraulic pack press. This gives a high yield of good quality juice. The juice is then fermented, using the natural, wild yeasts particular to our cider yard.
Having pressed the juice at the end of October and in early November, the fermentation lasts through the winter and usually finishes in early spring. At this stage the dry cider is bottled with a carefully measured amount of sugar and a champagne yeast culture. The bottles are sealed with crown caps and stacked in our cool cellar. The process of the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle, the small amount of sugar being turned into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is this carbon dioxide, trapped in the bottle, which produces the sparkle in the finished cider.
After a year or more in the bottle it is time to prepare the cider for sale. There is a yeasty sediment in the bottle that must be removed. The bottles are placed in sloping racks and progressively rotated and upended, until the yeast rests as a sediment against the inside of the cap of the inverted bottle. The bottles are then placed upside down with an inch or so of their necks immersed in a freezing solution at about -30°C. Within minutes a plug of ice forms in the neck and the bottle can be picked up and the cap removed, allowing the plug of ice containing the yeast to be popped from the bottle, leaving a clean, bright cider. The bottles are topped up with cider, corked and wired.
We feel that this time-consuming and laborious job is worth the effort!