Cider Musings

Vintage: What’s in a word?

When it comes to cider apples quite a lot of confusion it seems

Vintage as a word can be a noun: the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced.

or an adjective: relating to or denoting wine of high quality.

Both meaning derive from wine making The use of the word “vintage was first used in relation to cider apples by Robert Hogg in the “Herefordshire Pomona” published in 1888 and used by Professor B.T.P Barker Assistant Director at the Long Ashton Research Centre ( for cider) .

Robert’s meaning was a single cider variety that had the right balance of sugar acid and tannins and interesting phenolics so there was not a need to blend which is the usual method of achieving a balanced cider. One of the most famous was Kingston Black a bitter sharp. The apple was first grown in orchards around the parish of Kingston St Mary in Somerset, whose inhabitants referred to it simply as the “black apple” . This is an apple known to Robert Hogg and still brown today. bIt is the dominant apple at TeePee Cider and grows particularly well in Wairarapa.

                         Page from Herefordshire Pomona

Therefore ‘Vintage’ relates to a cider made from a particular cider apple (or possibly year) but not a blend nor style. At TeePee Cider we made vintage cider from Kingston Black and from a particular year. 

Beware of imitations. If cider is called vintage check which cider apple it is made from .

“This English Vintage Cider combines rich, complex apple flavours with fruity sweetness and a soft sparkle. This medium bodied cider is made with selected traditional bittersweet apples from a single year’s harvest.”

Hmm that doesn’t sound right!

Other single varietal vintage ciders:
Yarlington Mill is a bittersweet, named after the mill in Somerset where it was found.
Dabinett is a bittersweet named after William Dabinett, and is from Middle Lambrook, South Petherton, Somerset.

And of course the legendary lost Hereford Redstreak