Drink Review: Basque and Asturias Sidra

April 14, 2011

On April 7, Bushwhacker Cider Bar had a Spanish “sidra” tasting, focusing on four ciders from the Basque and Asturias regions in the north.

First off, remember that I had already tasted a Basque sidra,  which tend to have a bit of funk to them due to the acetic acid used, and are usually produced as still ciders. The first sidra we had for this tasting was Sarasola Sagardoa was no different. This sidra had a slight funk to it like Basque sidras do, and it ended up being the only bottle we bought for the night. This is partly because we had already bought and drunk a bottle of the second Basque sidra offered, iSastegi Sagardo Naturala. iSastegi is definitely a funkier sidra with more bite to it, meaning the Sarasola is a milder sidra. Incidentally, Sarasola is supposedly translates as “apple wine house.”

Another way the Spanish pour sidra

Moving on to the Asturias region, we first tried a sidra called Trabanco.  This was a sweeter yet bland sidra after tasting the iSastegi. The second sidra from Asturias was Poma Aurea, which was a sweet sparkling sidra done up using methode champanois, which we still found to be bland. I am not completely sure on this, but I am suspicious that the two sidras are actually made by the same company.

My party questioned the tasting order of the night. I understand the order in which we tasted went in the traditional dry to sweet tasting, but the iSastegi just had too much bite that it left the Asturias sidras bland in comparison. iSastegi also left a smell in our glass, so we kept smelling it on the Asturias sidras and kept expecting that taste. This did not help with the blandness perception.

Keeping with the Basque tasting, there were walnuts and a sheeps’ milk cheese that was quite possibly a Basque style idiazabal cheese. The cheese was excellent! We were told that the Basques usually eat the cheese and walnuts at the end of their sidra drinking in the sagardotegi (Basque cider house). While it may not have exactly been traditional, we could have had the sweeter Asturias sidras first, had some cheese and walnuts to cleanse our palates, and then continued to the funkier Basque sidras.  I think the tasting would have gone better that way.

Did I mention I loved the cheese?

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