The Cider Critic’s Blog: Wide Eyes – Little Star Pear Cider
This week I’m sampling a perry and it’s probably the newest I’ve reviewed on here yet; Wide Eyes has only been around three and a half months… you don’t get newer than that.
In truth Joe and his dad have been making cider and perry for seven years, you may have heard of them as Cleeve Orchard. So despite the new company, there is some serious experience and skill behind it. Joe refers to Cleeve Orchard as a hobby company for him and his dad, but it’s a hobby that’s won them sixty awards. Based in Ross-On-wye they are in the perry heartlands of Herefordshire.
What is clear when you speak to Joe is that it really is a labour of love, one which he is immensely passionate about. He has an orchard in Ross-on-Wye itself plus another near May Hill on the Herefordshire-Gloucestershire border. He’s also got a secret set of three other trees dotted around Herefordshire and Gloucestershire which he is rightly secretive about, perry trees are natural treasures.
Speaking of labour, Joe picks, presses and in many cases bottles everything himself. This time of year he is currently getting ready for pressing and he knows that what follows is
“three months of solid work, fourteen hours a day, every day”.
But that doesn’t dissuade him from throwing himself into it and relishing the work. He told me about his processes and I have to admire his dedication to use tradition and wild yeasts all the while having to keep a close eye on things to make sure the perry (and perry can be very temperamental) keeps in check and on track.
Drinking this perry I am humbled by the effort that’s gone into it.
So why Wide Eyes?
Well, Joe is very candid about his new venture, wanting to do something on his own and appealing to more youthful and feminine markets.
Recognising from his experience and from focus groups that women tend to avoid stronger and drier alcoholic drinks. With ‘Little Star’ Joe has taken traditional perry varieties (such as Thorn, Blakeney Red, Huffcap, Barland, Winnal’s Longdon & Green Horse), lowered the alcohol slightly and sweetened it a tad, along with some great labels by Ginger Monkey to appeal to a wider market.
Wide Eyes Tasting Notes
Well, opening the crown cap I get scents of fresh cut grass, poached pear and elderflower; this is a really aromatic perry. Pouring into a flute you’re instantly surprised by the paleness of the colour and the very soft bubbles. It looks like a prosecco but without the fizz.
The initial taste is slightly watery but filled with acidity, which is then followed by a big hit of pear juice taste. The finish comes through as dry and acidic but quickly gives way to a sweetness that lingers on the tongue.
Joe said to me he “wants to make the most high-end product he can” and he has certainly delivered with this perry.
It really does have a very light carbonation, it goes flat quickly. However this doesn’t affect the taste, nor does it make you feel like you need to rush it down. Whilst I have compared the look to prosecco and drunk it like one in a flute, it feels more like an after meal toast drink rather than a pre-dinner one. The sweetness lends itself to desert rather than canapes…could I sound any more middle class?
Cider Critic Summary
In summary, this really is a cracking perry which showcases how aromatic and delicate they can be. Another superb cider selection from the Ciderologist of course, which highlights the exclusivity available through Crafty Nectar. These guys are getting their hands on the latest and greatest craft creations out there, so get yourself signed up.
James Finch | Follow @TheCiderCritic