The cider guy
Meet David Sax, the man behind some of New Zealand’s most loved and innovative ciders.
C idermaker and winemaker David Sax originally hails from England but Nelson is now home. For the past seven years he’s been chief cidermaker at Redwood Cider Co. in Nelson, which produces Orchard Thieves, Monteith’s, Old Mout and Rekorderlig.
His first experience of making cider was in the family farmhouse kitchen with his parents. Today he oversees the cider production at Redwood and thanks to the region’s abundance of fresh fruit, most of the ingredients come from within a 30-kilometre radius of the cidery.
What do you love most about making cider?
I really enjoy the abundance of innovation in the cider category. Not only are there so many styles of apple cider that can be made, but being able to work with other fruits (to blend into cider) adds so many possibilities.
What was the type of cider that you used to make at home in England?
A pretty rough style of cider! It was hand-pressed from the large apple tree growing in the garden. It was my first experience with fermentation and little did I know it would be my future career.
What makes a good cider in your opinion?
A good cider is refreshing, with clean, apple characters. A great cider manages to add depth and complexity to that.
How did you end up specialising in cider?
It wasn’t too long after Marlborough’s enormous 2008 grape harvest (and over-supply), which gave the wine industry quite a wake-up call. Cider was just starting its huge growth in popularity – and I just happened to be offered a fantastic opportunity at Redwood Cidery, in beautiful, sunny Nelson.
What’s the most recent exciting innovation to come out of Redwood Cidery?
The recent release of the Monteith’s 750ml Sparkling Ciders, which included a brut style and a rosé (which is made with a dash of cranberry wine). These are both elegant celebration-style ciders at eight per cent ABV, which offer an excellent alternative to sparkling wine. We are very excited about the launch of these.
How is cider different from beer making?
A good question. Cider and beer are sold side by side, but their methods of production are very different. Cider is fermented from apple juice, much like wine is fermented from grape juice.
Whereas, just as you “brew” a cup of tea or coffee, the initial stages of making beer involves a brewing process – using boiling water.
What is your favourite cider?
I am a big fan of traditional cider styles, but I also have a soft spot for our Old Mout Passionfruit & Cider. It has performed well in international competitions and I love the integration of the tropical characters with the Nelson apples.
What is your favourite food pairing with cider?
My favourite food pairing at the moment is with the Monteith’s Sparkling Brut Cuvée Cider – a celebration-style cider. This goes so well with smoked salmon, scallops and other summer favourites.