Chalkdown Cider has aimed for the top end of the market, they are trying to dethrone champagne and prosecco as premium sparkling choice for the discerning English drinker. Well that’s the aim, have they achieved it?

Piotr Nahajski, the man behind the label was studying the French champagnes, perhaps with the intention to make a sparking English wine, a real growth area due to climate change. While he was there, he stumbled upon an English cider. He had the same thought I once had. Can you make a champagne from apples? The only difference is Nahajski went out and made it.photo of the back of Chalkdown Cider Bottle

In seeking cider that could go head to head in the battle for your flute glass, Chalkdown Cider has steered clear of the apples heavy in tannin and phenolics (which give a cider a rich, sometimes challenging scent). This is a little unusual for an English cider. It is flavouring eating apples over traditional cider apples.

The apples are hand selected and washed before being gently pressed and fermented in one batch. This mean there is no concentrated juice or apples in cold storage. The down side of these methods is it restricts the volume that can be produced each year. The result is only around 9000 bottles a per vintage.

The raw juice is left to settle so any segment sinks to the bottom of the tanks. The now clear juice is racked off (transferred to a new clean tank) where the yeast is added. After 6 months on lees, the cider is bottled. Into each bottle, Chalkdown Cider add the fermented cider along with some yeast and sugar then it’s corked and caged. Don’t worry about the added sugar it is fermented away to add the champagne style bubbles.

The Nose

The Cider goes straight into the glass, out comes wafts of banana and honeycomb toffee. As it gets a little bit warmer cut grass, acetone and citrus comes through.

The Taste

Sharp bottle conditioned bubbles dominant the mouth feel, there is plenty of gas in this one. If you are a fan of big juicy green apples you are going to like this. It’s got plenty of that green apple acids. The Chalkdown Cider is showing off its time in the bottle with some yeasty biscuit and cooked apple, think apple Tarte Tatin. I would expect more of the old apple flavours for a 4 year old Cider but it’s still very fresh. There is a subtle nod of the soil with a small amount of chalk in the finish.

Final Thoughts on the Chalkdown Cider

There is no doubt that this is a quite the fancy cider. It has the yeasty tones of a champagne and the fruit of a prosecco. It should be pretty simple to convince the champagne crowd that this is going to be a tasty product. Especially if you a Brit concerned with…. don’t say the B word…. Food miles, let’s say food miles.

Aussie drinkers will see a lot of similarities to some of our Methode Tradionelle ciders from the likes of St Ronans and Hill Billy which I rate very highly. Chalkdown Cider’s unique point of difference is the chalk in the soil flowing into the after taste that ties it to its’ local spot in south England.

Product Chalkdown  2015 Fine English Cider
Company Chalkdown Cider
Sweetness Off Dry
ALC/VOL 8.3%
Website chalkdowncider.com
Country of Origin England
Region Hampshire