Perry proud

Cider maker Simon Pearce has seen his labour of love earn national recognition. Photo. John Borren.

Last year saw a bat crowned New Zealand’s bird of the year, and just like the long-tailed bat a Tauranga-based cider maker has broken the mould in their respective prize giving.

The Cider Factorie in Te Puna saw their Perfect Pear 2018 bottle-fermented cider crowned Champion Cider for 2021 at the New Zealand Fruit Wine and Cider Awards – the first time a perry has scooped top prize since the awards’ inception in 1984.

Cider maker Simon Pearce explains what makes the cider special is the ‘méthode traditionnelle’ technique in which it is made.

“It’s made, in a way, like champagne,” explains Simon.

“It is fermented and matured in a seasoned oak barrel for a few months and then it goes into its bottle where it is fermented again. It remains in that bottle for a few years where it develops its flavours.

“Once it is ready for drinking there is yeast sediment in the bottle and that gets popped out and topped up and you have a naturally clear sparkling cider.”

Head judge Merophy Hyslop says they simply could not look beyond the Tauranga submission when choosing New Zealand’s best.

“We just kept coming back to it,” says Merophy.

“It had a really nice texture, lovely bubbles, good complexity and length. It’s not easy to create pear cider – you need some real skill to be able to make a cider like that.”

The process, Simon explains, is quite intense. However, the end result is a reflection of his hard work and the skills he has learned over the years.

“It is very different. It’s certainly a very specialised product and very labour intensive - a labour of love.

“It is a challenge to use all of my experience and techniques I have learned to produce something.”

Away from the prestigious perry, Simon’s personal post-work drop among the dozen or so on offer is the hop-infused apple cider. Other popular indulgences this summer include a mojito cider and a seasonal blueberry flavour – their newest brew.

“That is the flavour of this summer,” says Simon. “It’s very different and is proving really popular.”

The Cider Factorie began back in 2013. By 2015 they had opened a tasting room before opening the restaurant they occupy today in 2017.

A team of about 12 have worked tirelessly to produce the award winning tipple and Simon is still taken aback at the accolade.

“It is great to have that recognition and very unexpected.”

“To be able to say what we are doing is pretty good and to showcase that to our local population is a boost for our team.”

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