We’ve had a few excellent German perries on this site in our time. Kertelreiter’s are a joy whenever I’m lucky enough to taste them, 1785’s will live long in the memory for all the right reasons, and then of course there were the phenomenal champagne method bottlings from Jörg Geiger. Come to think of it, I can’t recall ever tasting a less than excellent German perry on this blog — which may be simply my good fortune, but which made me enormously happy when a German perrymaker responded to our callout.
I’ve only tried one Gutshof Kraatz perry — both for Cider Review, and indeed in my life full stop — but it was enough to persuade me that here was a producer I would certainly buy from if I was ever able. My interest has only been strengthened by the (many) excellent things that Cider Explorer’s Natalia has written about them over the years, including this writeup of a trip to the cidery (perriry?) itself.
I’m delighted to be able to introduce perrymaker Florian Profitlich here, and let him share a little about his company and creations.
CR: Introduce yourself and your company.
Florian: I am a 54 year old german living in north eastern Germany, in a very thinly populated area half way between Berlin and the Baltic Sea. We produce 15,000 – 25,000 liters of fruit wine per year. We pick the fruit ourselves manually.
CR: How did you come to start making perry?
Florian: 12 years ago I started the production of Apfelwein after having noticed that so many fruit trees in the landscape are no longer being used and taken care of.
At that time I had no education in wine making and did not know anything about perry. But I saw that there where not enough local products on the market and that nobody north of Berlin produced any cider. Very soon after having set up a cidery, I started to stumble over Perry-Pear-Trees standing unused somewhere along roads or between the fields. So I started to produce perry without having an idea what it should taste like. It was the hard way to learn it.
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). 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.
Florian: The perry pear trees that I found in the landscape are nearly all “simply” outgrown rootstock. There is no tradition for perry in northern Germany, none at all. So nobody knows what to do with these rather small, tannic and hard pears. Some of them are Kirchensaller Mostbirnsämling, others are another “type” of standard rootstock I do not know any name for. And there are some very small rootstock pears that look like european wild pears to me. To work with the “wildlings” from different origin means, that you have huge differences from one year to the next, and that you have to develop a taste and train your imagination to decide wich pears you want to work with.You can hardly build up standards for a cuvée.
CR: And about the sort of perry you make? Your methods of making it as well as the styles you make.
I produce four different types of perry:
– still wine (unsweetened, but filtered)
– artificially carbonated with added sugar (a medium dry) declared as Birnensecco Feinherb
– bottle conditioned sparkling with a second fermentation in the bottle (Birnen Cider, brut nature) In Germany I can not use the term PERRY. There is a trend for Cider, but nobody knows Perry.
– méthode traditionelle with 20 month on the lees and disgorged (brut nature)
CR: What are the challenges you find in working with perry? Making, growing and selling? How about the frustrations?
Florian: The challenges:
I started with apples, but now I work also with pears, quince and plums. The fruits and varieties are all different of course, but as soon as you start to work with the forgotten fruit trees, there are no exact borders or categories. It is simply fruit wine instead of grape wine.
With the different kinds of fruit you have different challenges on the path of growing, picking and processing. I like to look for the chances and try to learn how to get around the risks.
It took me some years to learn enough about pectins, enzymes, tannins and sorbitol.
CR: Your perfect perry and food pairing – and/or the time you most like to drink perry?
Florian: Some perries are very good alone to begin the evening with. Others are good to be combined with cheeses and Birnbrot (bread with dried pears). Very often there is a good amount of unfermentable residual sugar (sorbitol). This sugar content restricts the possibilities to combine the perry with food.
CR: What would you most want to tell a new drinker about perry to convince them to try it?
Florian: New drinkers should try any wines they do not know.
CR: And, finally, what is your all-time favourite of your own perries … and your all-time favourite from another producer?
Florian: I do not know many perries from other producers. The one that inspired me is Jörg Geiger’s Champagner Bratbirne.
It’s not too late to take part in our Perry Month Spotlight series! 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 Adam will get the interview out to you.