Local legend Albert Rixen scoops Best in Show at Three Counties

With over 20% increase in entries, the 2018 Three Counties International Cider & Perry Competition saw cidermakers young and old top the charts.

Renowned writer and co-author of World’s Best Ciders Pete Brown announced the awards at the Cider & Perry Festival organised by the TCCPA at this year’s Three Counties Show back in mid-June.

Having already won the Bottle Conditioned Cider class, legendary local Albert Rixen beat off all the opposition to pick up Best in Show. His keeved cider is artfully crafted with a blend of apples, some rarer than others, at Eric Freeman’s farm near Newent and was described by judges as “Really well balanced, with apricots and stone fruit flavours.” Halfpenny Green Cider Co followed up its recent Royal Bath & West win with a strong second in this class.

While perennial podium-toppers Pips Cider and Oliver’s both won two Firsts apiece, Pips taking the Dry and the Sweet Still Cider categories and Tom scoring with Dry Still Perry and Bottle Conditioned Perry, it was Lewis Scott of Cleeve Orchard who picked up the Best in Herefordshire title, with a hat trick of perry awards: Medium and Sweet Still, plus a second in Bottle Conditioned.

McCrindle’s Cider took awards for both cider and perry to secure the Best in Gloucestershire title. Lucie Mayerova who is working at Ragged Stone with Chris Hill followed up her Novice win at the Putley Trials to scoop the Best in Worcestershire title with her Sweet Cider win.

Meanwhile Ross on Wye Cider & Perry picked up the top spot in the most hotly contested category, that for Medium Cider, alongside a second in the Sweet Perry class, for its Flakey Bark, crafted from the only remaining trees in the world.

Other top winners included familiar face Once Upon A Tree for its Bottle Fermented Perry, and from further afield, Hampshire Downs won the Bottle Fermented Cider with its Chalkdown 2013.

The Mitchell Trophy for Light Cider or Perry, judged by Show visitors, went to Gwatkins Cider, just ahead of last year’s winner, Out Of The Orchard.

This year’s judging panel included global specialist and renowned photographer, Bill Bradshaw, Mike Henney of Henney’s Cider, plus Jim Kenyon, former Hereford Mayor and proprietor of the Victory pub, home of Hereford Brewery, with Charles Yarnold in support role.

“Overall the standard was fairly high,” Bill said of the entries. If there was one comment it was that the perries could have been a little more ambitious, but this could have been a reflection of the vintage. No such qualm over the Best In Show winner though. Declared “One to remember,” by Bill, adding, “With loads of different flavours, there’s a moreish quality I’m still trying to figure out.”

Competition director Dave Sanders, was ably supported once again by Rob Castle and Gabe Cook, while Albert Rixen looked after the Light Cider & Perry Class.

With thanks to this year’s sponsors, the National Association of Cider Makers, Vigo Ltd, and international cider and perry distributor, Cider Cellars.

Full results available here. Watch our interviews with Albert Rixen, Albert Johnson of Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry, James McCrindle and Lucie Mayerova on the TCCPA’s new YouTube channel.

See our photos on the TCCPA Facebook page. Award winners are welcome to request images of themselves.

Susanna Forbes susanna@littlepomona.com