Features, perry
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Meet your (perry)maker – Gould

A very brief intro from me, before we kick things off properly. Although we cover perry throughout the year, September — Perry Month — is the time we shine the spotlight on it most brightly.

But there are only a small handful of us here, all busy with other things, all writing on a volunteer basis as and when we can.

Which got me thinking, how can I turn September into a true celebration of perry? Flood your synapses with perry content and champion as many makers as possible without burning out or breaking my keyboard.

My answer was this series. A meet the maker interview with as many perrymakers — of any scale, from anywhere in the world — as wanted to take part. We put a call out on twitter, instagram and facebook, and I emailed a good handful of makers whose address I already had. And I’m delighted that some responses came through.

All makers were asked the same questions: really just a chance to talk about themselves, their fruit, their making, and why they love perry.

Importantly … it’s not too late to take part. If you’re a perrymaker reading this, be it in the Three Counties, Domfront, Mostviertel … or anywhere else, we would love to learn about you too. Just drop us a message with your email, and we will get the interview out to you. As you can see below, it really isn’t complicated.

Perry is a shy drink, and perrymakers can be shy folk. It’s made quietly in tucked-away corners all over the world and it rarely gets its own dedicated fanfare — always tagged on as an afterthought to cider; hanging onto its malic sibling’s coattails.

Not this month. Perrymakers are remarkable, dedicated, astonishingly perseverant people. It is our pleasure to introduce you to a few of them.

And I’m thrilled that we’re starting with one who I only encountered for the first time last year, but whose perries have become huge favourites of mine since: Jonathan Gould, of Gould’s Cider & Perry in Cornwall. Over to you, Jonathan …

CR: Introduce yourself and your company. 

Jonathan: Jonathan Gould, Ciders and Perries. One man band. Several jobs before perry making including biochemist, road sweeper, gardener, barrister and builder. Bit of a mixed bag. 

CR: How did you come to start making perry? 

Jonathan: In 2006-7 I heard Charles Martell on the radio talking about perry pear trees. I rang him to chat about varieties suitable for Cornwall and then Gillian Grafton (England in Particular) too. Both were helpful. My cider making started in 2014 when our children had left home and my wife, Juliet, and I were thinking of moving house. At the time we’d a collection of ~100  apples and ~30 pears. Eventually we stayed put and I combined two of my interests, trees and booze, took the plunge and planted most of the rest of our plot (about 4 acres) with cider trees. We had to wait until 2019 for enough perry pears to make a whole barrel (225 litres) of perry.

CR: Tell us about where you are. Its connection to perry and pear trees. The landscape (perhaps even the terroir!) and any perry culture (or lack thereof).

Jonathan: We are on the East bank of the River Fal, in Cornwall facing West -South West. The soil is ALC Grade 3, thin, mostly shallow, slightly acid, low organic matter, not water-retentive with killas beneath, not really suitable for fruit. We don’t irrigate, fertilize or spray. While Cornwall does not have an extant perry or pear spirit making tradition it may have had once since there are a few, scattered ancient, perry pear trees here including at Coombe, Trehane Barton, Summercourt and Gorran. The Trehane Barton pear is a variety new to Jim Chapman at the National Perry Pear Centre.

CR: Tell us about some of the pear varieties you work with. How they are to grow and work with and the different flavours they bring? Tell us about any of your favourites.

Jonathan: Our pear varieties are on the table below, classified à la Bore and Fleckinger of the IFPC http://www.ifpc.eu/ . Most of those listed are new here and not yet in fruit. In hindsight I would like to have read, before planting, the ‘Approved Varieties Table’ and ‘Secondary List Table’ in ‘Perry Pears, Luckwill and Pollard’ and learned that Williams was the most frequent winner of the Long Ashton Perry prize with a blend of Hendre Huffcap (only just planted here) and Winnal’s Longdon (just one specimen). The more bitter varieties such as Barland, Butt, Taynton Squash and Oldfield may be more suited to distilling. In any event my current favourites for sophistication, nuance and acidity are Stinking Bishop, Winnal’s Longdon and Yellow Huffcap with a good proportion of less sour and less tannic pears such as Black Worcester, Calabasse Bosc, Catillac and Fondante D’Automme. 

CR: And about the sort of perry you make? Your methods of making it as well as the styles you make. 

Jonathan: I use the Domfront method https://poire-domfront.fr/producers/https://poire-domfront.fr/protected-designation-origin/ allowing ripe fruit to fall from the trees (no picking or tree shaking), milling, maceration for 24-48 hours, natural yeasts, low / no sulphur, pétillant naturel, unpasteurized and unfiltered. This year I’m planning a hybrid perry pear pudding wine (‘Poireau’) using techniques used for Ice cider and Pommeau. Watch this space

CR: What are the challenges you find in working with perry? Making, working with and selling?

Jonathan: Making: annual variation in cropping and properties of fruit. Growing: variation in cropping, and selling: explaining what ‘perry‘ is, the word having almost gone from common usage.

CR: What is it that inspires you about perry? What do you love about it, both as a maker and a drinker?

Jonathan: The trees inspire me, I love the challenge as a maker and as a drinker I love its nuance and refinement.

CR: And what is your greatest frustration around perry?

Jonathan: Stability once bottled. I’m too inexperienced to deal with this properly but try to learn each year. The ‘Luckwill and Pollard’ recommended blunderbuss approach to stability (more and more sulphur with filtering) is unattractive.

CR: Your perfect perry and food pairing and/or the time you most like to drink perry?

Jonathan: A while ago I would have said ‘completely perfect at 10°C with shellfish and fish dishes’ but I’ve stopped eating creatures hauled from the wild, so … ‘with puddings’. I most like to drink it as an aperitif with my wife, Juliet, who drinks only rarely.

CR: What would you most want to tell a new drinker about perry to convince them to try it?

Jonathan: Fruity, floral, nuanced, sophisticated, elegant, sparkling.

CR: And, finally, what is your all-time favourite of your own perries … and your all-time favourite from another producer?

Jonathan: Catillac and Callabasse Bosc 2019 of mine. [Reviewed here: Ed] And one made by Gregg’s Pit at the Cider Salon, sorry can’t remember its name or year.

This entry was posted in: Features, perry

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In addition to my writing and editing with Cider Review I contribute to other drinks sites and magazines including jancisrobinson.com, Pellicle, Full Juice, Distilled and Burum Collective. I share my home with several hundred bottles, one geophysicist and a small, disgruntled cat named Nutmeg. @adamhwells on Instagram, @Adam_HWells on twitter.

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Meet your (perry)maker – Vagrant | Cider Review

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