Last week I discovered a bottle of Sheppys Kingston Black at the back of a cupboard that must have been there for two or three years. Not needing much of an excuse I opened it up and it was still absolutely fresh with a little of the typical varietal astringency balanced beautifully with fresh acidity. In my winemaking life I would describe it as balanced and complex but on a Wednesday evening after work it was just a good drink. What more could you ask for. This inspired me to finally make an appointment to go and see them as we really want to stock their Ciders and so today I spent a very productive morning with Mel Timmins the Sales Manager at Sheppys just south of Taunton. They really typify the best of what is happening in Somerset. There is a stark contrast between brand spanking new gleaming Spiegel steel tanks, cross flow filters and not so gleaming but still pristine 80 year old oak.They are people really going places that maintain their roots in making quality. Ciders made from 100% apple juice, why would you use anything else? No concentrate. 85% from Somerset Orchards, although they do allow themselves some imports from foreign parts such as Devon.
One thing that intrigues me here as well as at other producers is the number of Champagne bottles and pupitres (riddling racks) that are in the museum. This idea of bottle fermenting cider has a long noble quality history. As somebody who does this himself it would be great to see more being made simply because they can taste so utterly wonderful. I wonder if I can persuade them to start a revival.
I departed very happy with a mixed case that I will taste and write up before putting them on the site when it's up and running - tough life!