FOOD

Wollombi's Incy Wincy Cyder makes quality craft cider the old-fashioned way

Wollombi's Incy Wincy Cyder range is proof that good things come to those who wait.

Peter Ross not only prefers to make his cider the old-fashioned way, he even adopted the traditional English spelling of cider - "cyder" - to describe his product.

"It suits our very labour intensive and manual style of production. It's a point of difference from the industrial products, in our opinion," said Ross, who owns and operates Incy Wincy Cyder with his partner Merryl Naughton. He purchased the former pear orchard in 1991.

"Our processes are deliberately slow, for example, we don't use pumps, and we think our cider is treated more gently. Commercial fermentations of cider take about two weeks. Ours is about four months. Wollombi is cold in winter and we don't temperature-control the fermentation. Nature takes care of it."

Another point of difference, he says, is that every Incy Wincy Cyder is an "annual vintage product". Every cider has a year on the label and matures in the bottle for 12 months before release.

"We made a couple of batches and then accidentally won some medals at the Australian Cider Awards, so we kept going," Ross said.

"We fully ferment but there's no residual sugar in our ciders, hence they are bone dry and not at all sweet. It's very pleasant and easy to drink without the cloying sugariness that many commercial ciders seem to have."

Australian craft cider is, Ross says, "very food friendly".

"Our cider is a dry product with interesting fruit characters, good balance and smaller bubbles than you might see in soft drinks or other industrial-type beverages," he explained.

"Think a fine bead in a champagne-style drink and you're getting close. I think a good cider should make you think about its origins and be 'of a place', like a good wine.

"Drier styles like ours are great with seafood and also work well with medium meats like veal or pork. The sweeter styles can work well with game meats like venison or duck, and also as dessert wine substitutes.

"We serve our cider in champagne glasses typically as an aperitif or with the foods mentioned. Good cider works well with good food."

Incy Wincy Cyder is a weekend-only labour of love. Ross and Naughton both have busy "day jobs" and no plans to expand their operation or open a cellar door. Not yet, anyway.

"We're pretty happy. At present we're almost selling out inside each year for a full vintage. We could increase our current production without compromising our methods and principles, but the demand needs to be there," Ross said.

"Cider is a funny one in Australia - the market goes in spurts and then slows. It's somewhat weather dependent, but the industry is working hard to change that and get wine connoisseurs interested in exploring the cider variants we have.

"One challenge is that many people write Australian ciders off as sweet alcopop drinks when our craft cider is, in fact, so different from that. Australian craft cider is world class but we need to see it in more restaurants.

"Some producers are exporting with government assistance, which is a really good development, and the industry has developed a 100% Australian Grown trademark to identify top quality Australian fruit ciders.

"Sadly, much of the so-called Australian cider is made with imported fruit juice concentrates, so it's an important distinction to make."

For a list of stockists or to make a purchase go online to incywincycyder.com.

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This story Wollombi's Incy Wincy Cyder flies Australia's craft cider flag first appeared on Newcastle Herald.