13 July, 2017

Brännland Cider Pernilla Perle, a love story

In 2014 I was finalizing the second vintage of Brännland Ice cider. The fermentations that year had been difficult from my point of view. When you learn something as a grown up you learn a formula and when that formula doesn’t turn out the way you expect it the feeling of a looming disaster can be overwhelming. At the time I was sure that I had made some terrible, unnamed mistake somewhere along the line that had destroyed the cider irreparably. The pressure was real to some extent. We’d released the 2012 vintage to great critical and public response and had decided to scale up the production. I was sure I was going to fail to make the 2013 as good or better. It kept me up and night. The fear of failure.

My wife, an infinitely wiser and calmer person than myself, finally got so tired of hearing about my anxiety that she made me a wager. She said – “for every person that tells you that the 2013 is better than the 2012 you have to buy me a glass of Champagne.”

With the determination of a man who felt that failure was already a fact I accepted the wager.

When we released the 2013 ice cider, after many a phone call and discussions with mentors and friends in the industry, having solved what seemed to be the biggest problems in production, it was hailed as a huge step forward for us. The style was lighter than the previous vintage and what I had felt were weird fermentations turned out to be a learning curve. Learning to bend and flow with the process rather than trying to fit a circle into a square. A lot of people said that it was much better than the previous vintage. 

So, in the course of 2014 and 2015 I racked up quite the Champagne debt with my wife. A debt that I could never hope to repay. I started thinking about whether there was something I could do to compensate.

When you make ice cider you only use a part of the juice extracted from the concentration process to make ice cider. The reason is that an ice cider has to start at a specific sugar level to follow the appellation set in Canada. After having extracted the first part there is still a certain amount of extract that has the same quality as the ice cider juice but that starts at a lower sugar level. 

We’d been thinking about what to do with this part of the extract for two years at this point but didn’t have the experience or knowledge to make it useful.

In 2014, to coincide with the problematic finalisation of the 2013 vintage, we found a wine maker that could work with us, understood our goals and who wanted to share our vision. The Champagne debt and the thoughts on what to do with our residual material from the ice cider extraction coincided with Markus Lundén, winemaker at Georg Breuer in Rheingau, coming on to consult for Brännland Cider. 

Together with Markus we decided to trial ferment a cider from the residual extract to present a new product to complement the ice cider. The trial was way beyond expectation. A semi-dry, lightly sparkling cider that had no equivalent in the market that was closer to a wine than a traditional cider. 

So, in the fall of 2015, we released the new cider. I decided to give it to my wife on our first wedding anniversary, a cider all her own, named after her, to repay my debt. In 2015 we produced the first 1200 bottles of the Pernilla Perle. and production and interest in this cider has since then grown exponentially. The story of how it came to be has travelled the world. 

The Pernilla Perle is important to us on so many levels. Commercially it is the cider that signals Brännland Ciders growth and development into new segments. In terms of taste and style it mirrors my wife. Light and with a sweet kick but with a smart balancing sharpness to break the sweetness. It is a diamond (or a pearl if you will), in the rough, found in a material that might otherwise be thought useless. 

And so, every year the Pernilla Perle becomes a new testament to the smart, talented and beautiful woman I’ve decided to spend my life with and represents the necessity to think outside the box. The sure knowledge that all problems and challenges can be faced and solved with a bit of calmness, smartness and serenity.

/Andreas Sundgren Graniti, Brännland Cider