Cider Musings

Vintage. Its meaning for Cider.

At TeePee Cider we make Vintage Cider. Vintage has two meanings in cider. Firstly cider made with cider apple varieties recognised as making a great cider from a single variety. No blending is required to get the right blend of tannins acid and sugar. Only a very small number of apple varieties are considered to be capable of making a good single-variety cider. While a ‘cider apple’ could be any apple that ends up in a cider, cider-specific apples are, typically, those apple varieties that have been cultivated specifically for making into cider, and which have certain characteristics –high levels of acid, tannin, or sugar; all characteristics which make them desirable for fermenting into cider. Often referred to as ‘spitters’ due to the astringency and bitterness imparted by their tannins, these apples are typically not desirable for eating. But in a cider, they add colour, body, mouthfeel, and–in the right proportion–balance to a cider that might otherwise be too thin, too sweet, or too one-dimensional in flavour. Cider apples are divided up into 4 main categories; bittersharps, bitter sweets, sharps and sweets depending on their combination of tannins acid and sugar. Fruit having pa perfect balance are designated as having "vintage"quality, a term first introduced by Robert Hogg in 1888, and further popularised  by B.T.P Barker at Long Ashton, and we make cider from these. 
Yarlington Mill is a bittersweet, named after the mill in Somerset where it was found, ( we visited several years ago and sadly the original tree is gone, but the mill remains).
Dabinett is a bittersweet named after William Dabinett, and is from Middle Lambrook, South Petherton, Somerset,
Kingston Black is a bittersharp probably named after the village of Kingston, near Taunton, Somerset,
Broxwood Foxwhelp is a Herefordshire bittersharp, probably a sport of the old variety Foxwhelp,
Major is an old bittersweet variety, found in orchards in South Devon and east of the Blackdown Hills in south Somerset
Sweet Coppin is a sweet originating in Devon,
Sweet Alford is another Devon sweet variety,
Crimson King is a sharp, first grown in Somerset,
Stoke Red is a bittersharp originating from the village of Rodney Stoke in Somerset.
However it also refers to the year made. We make cider once a year after harvest. after 6 months primary fermentation in the barrel our wines are bottle fermented on the yeast lees by the method called traditionale or Method Albion as we prefer to call it as the English cider makers started the champagne process off before the French finessed it. So we also include the date of disgorgment. These 2 dates are vital it you want to choose the best bottle fermented cider to your taste.
Read more at Cider Musings. #realcider This is nicely explained in this article on champagne.