Well, the sunshine has now started to fade, but it wasn’t before I got some great snaps of this week’s bottled beauty, a fresh looking Perry from Shepton Mallet in Somerset, which also happens to be the home of Crafty Nectar.
Downside Perry have been producing perry and cider on a commercial scale for only 3 years, but are quickly becoming well renowned for the quality and taste of the products they produce, as well as the passion with which they craft them.
A quick watch of Paul Ross’s (Perry Maker at Downside) video on their Facebook page shows the level of work required to harvest the tiny (in comparison to edible pears) perry pears from the enormous trees; collecting by hand the fallen stock on the ground and shaking the trees to pull off the remainder.
They concentrate on using very late harvest fruit, pears that have been growing an extra couple of months, which means extra time for sugars and aromas to build up in the fruit. What’s unique about Paul’s process is that he uses French as well as traditional English perry pears, which bring higher tannin and acidity to the mix.
After harvest the pears are pressed and the juice is fermented over winter in stainless steel barrels. In the spring the fermentation finishes off, and they wait 2 months before bottling and then it’s left in the bottle for a further two months for good measure. The whole process lasts about a year, but the finished product is well worth the wait.
Opening the bottle I get a slight acetone scent which quickly dissipates to reveal a fruity pear smell, it’s not a sweet aroma though, it seems dry. The colour is very pale, in a glass you could be forgiven for thinking it was a white wine and the initial taste is very wine-like: fresh and acidic. What follows is a slight sweet crisp pear taste and then a dryness that finishes at medium dry. There is a well-balanced level of carbonation that lifts the pear notes, but the lingering taste is one of sweet acidity. I feel as though I should have used a wine glass to really exploit the freshness of this perry, even though it has a little bit of fizz to it.
I know it’s slightly carbonated but I believe Downside Perry would give any good white wine a run for its money. It’s not fizzy enough to compare to a prosecco and it’s not dry or harsh enough. This is delicate, fresh, crisp and a perfect accompaniment to a wonderful dinner; perhaps white fish, seafood or chicken.
Paul closes his video by saying that,
“with enough hard work and dedication he could make some of the best perry in the world”.
Well Paul, after tasting this, I have to say you are not far off! It is a superb drink, so if you’re not already a Crafty Nectar cider subscriber, get signed up. You’re missing out on sampling expertly crafted perry.