We visited Elgin, South Africa's apple country, at the absolute best time; a sunny autumn day as the harvest was in full swing. Although Elgin makes world-class white wine (especially my favourite: Sauvignon Blanc) our goal was to try some of the craft ciders that are becoming increasingly popular. What can be better than sipping a fruity cider under pale blue skies, being caressed by a warm wind that carries the smell of ripe apples?
My three favourite craft ciders of the day were (in no particular order):
Everson's Cloudy Cider. It is dry and fresh, and the cloudy appearance reminds my my mother's homemade apple must. I also like the clean, minimalistic label (which also, I suppose, reminds me of Scandinavia).
Terra Madre Pommes Classic. This cider doesn't just look like a Cap Classique (the South African champagne), it tastes like it too! It is deliciously dry and yeasty, and works perfect with food. I love the little apple tree twig and the individual numbering of each bottle. This is seriously upmarket cider!
Paul Cluver's Cluver & Jack. Seriously fruity and still dry, this cider is youthful and grown up at the same time. I had mine under the autumn coloured trees at Paul Cluver's wonderful restaurant Fresh, which is probably the most perfect place ever to drink it. The label is arty and fun, and the smaller bottle size ensures that you finish it long before the content has gone flat.
We also had a great lunch at Paul Cluver's restaurant Fresh, and I seriously recommend that you try it out. Everything on the menu is locally sourced and sustainably produced, and a lot even comes from their own farm. Everything was great, but the homemade pork bangers on mustard mash were To Die For!
When you are in Elgin, don't miss the Peregrin Farm Stall. They stock an abundance of local produce, have their own bakery and a really nice restaurant (where they serve craft cider and local wine). It's a joy to browse the fresh produce shelves, the rows and rows of jams, pickles and sauces and the tempting breads and cakes! There is also a well-stocked wine section at the back.