The 2021 vintage of Art of Darkness, one of Little Pomona’s flagship ciders, has just been released.
Produced with a selection of the best fruit from the boutique producer’s home orchard, Art of Darkness is where the cidermakers play with the influence of oak, each vintage offering up a different impression related to the quality and flavours of the original apples. The 2021 is elegant, harmonious and, with its balance of freshness, fruit and softened tannins, a highly gastronomic cider.
“Art of Darkness centres around Ellis Bitter, one of the four varieties that we grow, plus long ageing, almost exclusively in ex-spirit barrels,” says James Forbes, co-founder and chief cidermaker.
“Why? Well, Ellis Bitter, as the name suggests is an apple rich in tannins. Not the soft, mouth-filling kind like in, say, Yarlington Mill, but harder and actually quite bitter – just not what we are looking for in our ciders. That makes it an obvious candidate for the barrel where, through the very slow process of micro-oxidation, typically a year or more, the tannin levels diminish, soften, eventually losing their bitterness.
“Surely though if you leave cider in ex-spirit barrels for a year it’s just going to taste of whatever was in the barrels before? Well, that’s the fascinating thing! The evolution of the cider in barrel begins as you would expect, with lots of spiritous aromas and flavours but gradually the fruit begins to stage a comeback.
“If you’re brave and wait long enough, the result becomes something wonderfully harmonious,” says Forbes. “In which there is no dividing line between barrel and fruit. It’s utterly seamless. Nor has the cider become dense and heavy with booziness, remaining bright and fresh and wholly reflective of the fruit that went into it. Honestly, it’s a little miracle!”
Food Matching & Ageing
Art of Darkness has been produced since the cidery began in 2015. Ciders with structure and flavour can match food really well, and also age remarkably well. As an example, to celebrate the first five vintages of Art of Darkness, back in 2022 Little Pomona held Barrel & Flame, a vertical tasting with dishes matched by Chefs in Cider to each vintage.
The 2021 pairs well with a variety of dishes, ranging from baked fish in a paprika-laced sauce to roasted courgette gratin, or simply, a block of aged cheddar.
With its complexity, expert and educator, Gabe Cook, The Ciderologist, feels this release “will confound many people”.
“It shouldn’t be drunk cold. It shouldn’t be drunk by the pint. It shouldn’t be drunk quickly,” he explains. “Like an intense Meursault, it needs time to breathe and live before being sipped and savoured with food on cool winter’s evenings. With its silky, spicy marzipan notes and Seville orange punchlines, you won’t regret it.”
Annual Calendar of Releases
Art of Darkness 2021 is the first of Little Pomona’s monthly releases for 2024.
The February release will be Disco Nouveau 2023, the first release from last year’s harvest.
Trade Tasting – 29 January, Manchester
Members of the trade and media are invited to taste for themselves with Little Pomona at Fine Cider’s Trade Tasting in Manchester, at Flawd Wine, 29 January, 10am-5pm.
More details via Fine Cider on Instagram.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Art of Darkness is available from Little Pomona cidery and online, RRP £15/75cl.
- A limited number of media sample bottles are available. Please get in touch if this is of interest, and if you’d like to find out more about the cidery’s low intervention approach and family of ciders, perries and co-ferments.
- Producing a range of 75cl bottles and keg-conditioned ciders, Little Pomona is distributed by a number of key partners, including The Fine Cider Company, Les Caves de Pyrene, EebriaTrade, Pigs Ears, Jolly Good Beer, Dunns and ReStalk.
- Exporting to six countries, Little Pomona is available in over 150 outlets around the UK, from bottle shop to bistro, pub to restaurant. If you would like to add Little Pomona to your portfolio, please get in touch. Media and Trade are welcome to visit by appointment.
- Little Pomona welcomes visitors to its cidery, located near the market-town of Bromyard. Operating as a bottle shop between Oct-Mar, 12-3pm on a Saturday, it opens as a Tasting Room on Saturdays, 12-7pm, between April and September, with tours every fortnight on a Sunday.
- Founded in 2015, Little Pomona’s expansion and move to Brook House Farm in 2019 was supported by an RDPE grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
- The label shows an original artwork by illustrator Ariana Sauder of Little Pomona’s muse, the goddess Pomona. She is seen emerging out of the orchard at night, candle alit, just like the cider, as it emerges from the darkness of the barrel.
Further information, images & comment available from Susanna Forbes, email@example.com, 07811 913971
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