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Cider Collaboration for Pensons

Pensons, the Michelin Star restaurant located on the beautiful Netherwood Estate on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border, announces its collaboration with award-winning local cider producers Little Pomona, to launch the first vintage of Netherwood Estate Reserve Cider.

The Cider Collaborators

James and Susanna Forbes met Peta and Ivo Darnley from Netherwood and Pensons, very appropriately, on the drinks stall of their village summer fête a few years ago.   They quickly realised a shared passion for producing and encouraging the very best local food and drink.  Their respective expertise in cider making and hospitality and joint belief in the importance of provenance and quality of ingredients to create the best tasting products meant that collaborating to create a very special single estate cider was the obvious next step.

Local at the Core

The Netherwood Estate is home to a number of traditional, cider varieties in their historic orchards. The autumn of 2018 provided perfect ripening conditions, and Little Pomona selected and hand-picked rare White Norman apples as well as classic Dabinett and Chisel Jersey.  After a long, slow, natural fermentation, the nascent cider was moved into two fine ex-Sauternes barrels to age for a further eight months. In the Autumn of 2020, the Pensons team gathered at Little Pomona’s Cidery for a final tasting, before bottling in December.

With a 500-bottle production run, this limited-edition cider is packed with flavours of blossom honey, apricots, peach and exotic perfume, all wrapped up in warm baked apple and sweet spice. With individually numbered bottles, the cider has a real vinous quality to it, with fine, soft tannins emerging at the finish. In its complexity, this is very versatile, and a perfect partner for a wide range of dishes.

A Greener Outlook

Sustainability is a considered and invested approach and at the core of the Pensons’ vision. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin Green Initiative in January 2021. Pensons is committed to treading more lightly with a hyper-local approach whenever possible. This includes growing and foraging as many of its ingredients as possible, allowing Head Chef, Chris Simpson and his team to be 100% certain that produce reaches the kitchen in its purest form, eliminating packaging and reducing food miles to mere steps. Currently, the chefs are foraging a range of ingredients including sorrel, kale, wild garlic and rhubarb from the bountiful kitchen gardens.

The opportunity to enable such talented cider-makers to use the estate’s own cider apples epitomises this approach.  The orchards are free from fertilisers and sprays, the apples are picked by hand, and the cider is crafted just eight miles from the restaurant, demonstrating that quality and a minimal environmental impact can go hand in hand.

Pensons hopes and aspires to continue to build on these foundations to create a sustainable, locally-orientated, responsible business that inspires and benefits their guests, employees and other businesses in the area demonstrating that it is possible to serve exceptional food, with a lighter footprint, yet without compromising on quality.

Michelin Star Cider Pairing Night

To celebrate the launch of the Netherwood Estate Reserve 2018, Pensons will host a unique cider pairing dinner on Wednesday 23rd June in the company of the Little Pomona duo and Tom Oliver, founder of Oliver’s Cider & Perry and renowned cider alchemist. More details of this event will be released later this month.

Peta Darnley, owner of Pensons and The Netherwood Estate comments:

“We are thrilled to have teamed up with our friends at Little Pomona for the launch of our first Netherwood Estate Reserve.  This marks the fruition of a long partnership and we cannot wait to share this with our guests once we reopen.

The Cider Pairing Night, which we believe is a UK first for a Michelin Star restaurant, will offer a unique culinary opportunity to celebrate the very best of local produce for which Herefordshire is renowned and the perfect way to appreciate both the flavours of the food alongside the subtle notes in the ciders.”

 Susanna Forbes of Little Pomona comments:

“The trees and the apples on Netherwood Estate are both distinctive and very special. So the chance to not only craft a cider, but also to pair it with Chris’s exceptional cooking makes for the ultimate seasonal treat. We are looking forward to it immensely.”

Learn more about Pensons.