El Gaitero Red Grape

El Gaitero, one of the largest sidra producers in Asturias released a while ago a very interesting tipple. It’s an Asturian sidra blended with the Spanish tempranillo juice. It picked up Silver at CiderWorld 2019 in Frankfurt in the category Cider, still, flavoured and mixed.Company: Grupo El Gaitero
Place of Origin: La Espuncia, Villaviciosa, Asturia, Spain
Apples: a blend of Asturian apple varieties with Tempranillo juice
ABV: 4%
Package type: 750ml champagne corked and wired bottle
Recommended type of glass: wine glass, chalice glass or flute 

Appearance: pours a clear, ruby red with a big white foam that quickly dissipates. Carbonation is medium. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong, acidic of red berries, redcurrant, Brettanomyces with a hint of vinegar and butter.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with medium acidity of lemon. Lingering smokiness, lemon, sour cherry jam. Hints of funky Brettanomyces. sour cherry jam, moderate astringency of wine. gentle tannins.

Overall: At first glance, you get an impression that you are drinking a sparkling and astringent grape juice. But then, you get interestingly farmhouse notes of Brettanomyces that make you uncertain what are you actually drinking. Its taste is interesting but the juice is too dominating so the only thing I can taste coming from sidra is funky Bretts. I couldn’t get any notes of apples. Also, it’s a bit too sweet to my liking so I couldn’t drink much of it. So the El Gaitero Red Grape is more like a wine hybrid than cider to me. Worth trying. 3.5/6

Availability: in the UK from Beers of Europe, Fetch the Drinks. In Denmark from La Tienda CPH. In Ukraine from Rozetka. In Finland from EL Mercado and Viniikartta. In Lithuania from Sidronamai. In Russia from Pivoluchshe.

Price: Monica passed me a sample at CiderWorld 2019 in Frankfurt.

El Gaitero Sidra Pomarina Brut

Pomarina is one of the sidras belonging to the portfolio of Grupo El Gaitero from Villaviciosa, Asturia, Spain. This particular sidra is made by the Cardin family with five different apple varieties De la Riega, Raxao, Verdialona, Regona and Durona de Tresali grown in their 45ha farm in Villaviciosa, Asturias. Pomarina is fermented at low temperatures and subsequently aged on its lees. After two months, Pomarina is moved to a pressured tanks for secondary fermentation and in the next step bottled. 

Pomarina often picks up award from worldwide cider competitions. Only recently, from International Cider Challange 2019.Company: Grupo El Gaitero
Place of Origin: La Espuncia, Villaviciosa, Asturia, Spain
Apples: a blend of  5 apple varieties De la Riega, Raxao, Verdialona, Regona and Durona de Tresali
ABV: 7%
Package type: 750ml champagne corked and wired bottle
Recommended type of glass: wine glass, chalice glass or flute 

Appearance: pours a clear, pale golden with a big white foam that very quickly dissipates. Carbonation is high with small nice bubbles and seems to be natural.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with notes of vinegar, white wine, champagne, apple stems, distant grapefruit and herbs/vermouth incl. notes of rosemary and peppermint.

Taste: it begins dry with high acidity of lemon and vinegar. Smokiness, lemon, the bitterness of grapefruit pith, peppermint, a hint of elderflower. Finishes with a note of peppermint and grapefruit or blood orange. Notes of funk in the aftertaste.

Overall: If I had to describe the taste of this sidra in one sentence, I would say that it tastes like a combination of champagne with lovely notes typical for sidra from Asturias. The scent is lovely and with every sniff, I’m able to discover and identify more notes. In terms of taste, it’s dry and has gorgeous citrusy notes along with peppermint that make it taste very refreshing. A great option for a hot summer day. No surprise it picked up so many awards. But if you don’t like notes of vinegar, this might not be the right choice for your palate. Pomarina would go great with any seafood and fish. I’d love to drink it again. 5/6

Availability: almost every market in Asturias, Spain. As for other European countries check supermarkets selling products from Mediterranean countries.

Price: Monica passed me a sample at CiderWorld 2019 in Frankfurt.

Bereziartua Sidra Bere

I haven’t reviewed any sidra or sagardoa from Spain in a while. Time to change it! Sidra Bere is another sagardo or sagardoa (description for sidra in the Basque Country) from Sidras Bereziartua Sagardoak that I have a pleasure to review. The Bereziartua Sidra Bere is a blend of Basque apple varieties such as Txalaka, Urtebia, Judeline, Judo. Previously, I have sampled their Sidra Natural.Company: Sidras Bereziartua Sagardoak
Place of Origin: Astigarraga, Basque Country, Spain
Apples: a blend of Txalaka, Urtebia, Judeline, Judo
ABV: 6.0%
Package type: 330ml green glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy orange with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose does not explode out of the glass. It smells sour of lemon and vinegar. Also, notes of nail polish remover, funk, brown sugar, grapefruit flesh, grapefruit skin and fermented apples. 

Taste: it begins dry with no residual sweetness and medium to high vinegary like-acidity and a strong flavour of lemon juice. The mid-palate has notes of fermented apples, nail polish, remover and lemon with a light astringency. The finish is dry with notes of lemon, grapefruit-like bitterness and low lingering astringency.

Overall: If you don’t mind notes of vinegar and nail polish remover, I’m sure you’re gonna love it. Sidra Bere is a full-bodied and refreshing sagardoa with a good structure, depth and good length. Only the nose could be slightly stronger. Anyway, I can imagine Sidra Bere would taste delicious on a hot summer day and would go excellent with food. Definitely worth a purchase. 4.5/6

Availability: from their online shop or through Grau Online, In the Czech Republic from Dobry Cider.

Price: Mikel passed me a bottle at CiderWorld2019 in Frankfurt.

 

Fuente Guijarro Sidra del Sur Ancestral 2015

Who said that sidra can be made only in the North of Spain, in either the Basque Country or Asturias? Exactly, nobody. Manuel and Sara from Sidra del Sur make their sidra in the Cortijo Fuente Guijarro, which is located 2000 meters above sea level in the Sierra Nevada Natural Park in Andalucia, in the South of Spain. For their sidra, they use old apple varieties with a more acidic profile. Interestingly, to pick apples they use a mule since the paths are not accessible with regular vehicles. Also, their sidra production is organic without any interventions. I’ve discovered their sidra when I was wandering the streets of Neukölln, Berlin and saw a board saying ‘we have sidra’. I just couldn’t resist the temptation to sample it.   img_0030Company: Sidra del Sur Fuente Guijarro
Place of Origin: Yegen, Granada, Andalucia, Spain
Apples: organic old apple varieties grown in the Cortijo Fuente Guijarro 
Sweetness as per label: dry
Alc: 7%
Package type: 750 ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy pale straw with a greenish hue and no head. No carbonation. Low to medium body.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is lightly sweetish and dry at the same time with notes of sulphur, fresh green grass, young cider, vinegar and fresh apples.

Taste: it starts dry and spicy with a low to medium acidity of vinegar, Sauerkraut and lemon. On the mid-palate a watery taste, nail polish, lemon, grapefruit with green herbal undertones. It finishes dry and lightly salty with a note of olive brine and a touch of astringency and alcohol.

Overall: the Ancestral 2015 is rich with features of naturally fermented cider. Also, it was refreshing and had a long-lasting taste. For the fans of Spanish sidra, this particular sidra will be a real find. It’s an interesting cross between sidra and other European ciders. What I found disturbing is the persistent sulphur note on the nose and a light flavour of alcohol on the palate. I’m not sure whether I would buy it again to drink on its own but I could have it again with some tapas. 3.5/6

Availability: in Belgium from Altrovino. In Berlin in Naturales Weinbar.

Price: bought locally in Berlin in Naturales Weinbar at 4.5 EUR.

Kupela Sagardoa

Kupela is a relatively young company established only in 2015 in the French Basque Country. In reaction to the growing cider market in France, the founders Xalbat and Bastien have decided to release their own cider made from traditional Basque apples. Theis cider brand is supposed to reflect their love of the traditional beverage from the Basque Country in the South. With their product range, Xalbat and Bastien wish to make cider also more popular in the northern part of the Basque Country. Today I give you their Sagardoa.Company: Kupela
Place of Origin: Anglet, French Basque Country, France
Apples: traditional Basque apples such as Manttoni, Patzuola, Urtebi Ttiki and Urtebi Handi
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass, snifter or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale yellow with no foam. No carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is dry and salty with notes of green olive brine, the old good vinegar, lemon, yellow apples and herbal notes. Moderately strong aroma.

Taste: it begins dry with low to medium acidity of vinegar and lemon.  A watery note with pomelo, some smokiness, yellow apple, low astringent taste, on the palate. Finishes dry with a hint of grapefruit and a light note of sauerkraut

Overall: at a blind cider tasting I would guess this is a classical sagardoa from the Basque country. It tastes dry, has notes of vinegar and olive brine, which are typical features for cider made in this region. Sagardoa created by Kupela tastes much better and has much more depth than the commercial La Sidra de San Sebastian. It could taste a bit less watery though. I’m sure it would pair well with savoury dishes such as tapas or pintxos. But I sampled it while I watched a soccer match and it tasted perfectly fine and very refreshing on its own. 4/6

Availability: online in France from Acheter Au Pays-Basque.

Price: Kupela Sagardoa was a sample provided by Estitxu from Kupela.

Maeloc Sidra Extra Ecológica

Maeloc Sidra Extra Ecológica was one of the four Spanish sidras that were available from Carrefour Express located at the famous La Rambla in Barcelona. I’ve already tried the Etiqueta Blanca from El Gateiro and wasn’t in the mood for Pear Cider from The Good Cider so I didn’t have much choice left. This is how I ended with a bottle of the Sidra Extra Ecológica from Maeloc, an organic cider brand from Galicia, Spain. Interestingly, it won a Gold Medal at the International Cider Challange 2014.Company: Maeloc Way
Place of Origin: A Coruña, Galicia, Spain
Apples: organic Galician apples
Sweetness as per label: doesn’t say
Alc: 4.1%
Package type: 750 ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a large white head, which quickly dissipates. High and unlikely natural carbonation. Low to medium body.

Aroma/Nose: it has almost no aroma. Only faint notes of yellow apples and still fermenting apples.

Taste: it starts medium sweet with low acidity. On the mid-palate ripe yellow apples, hints of lemon and orange with a touch of astringency. And, that would be it.

Overall: as expected, Sidra Extra Ecológica from Maeloc turned out to be a fizzy soft-drink tasting like a quite sweet version of an effervescent multivitamin with orange flavour and a touch of astringency. I thought it was below average and didn’t pair well with the tapas I  purchased at the Mercat de la Boqueria (famous food market in Barcelona). Just a waste of time and money. How could it pick up an award??? 2/6

Availability: seems to be available in many supermarkets across Europe.

Price: bought locally in Careffour Express in Barcelona at 2.75 EUR.

Trabanco Sidra Natural

What to drink when you’re on a trip and you need a break after a long day of sight-seeing in Barcelona? If you’re a cider fan, you have to look for ‘sidra’. But, if you’re in Barcelona, you have to search for bars and restaurants with Asturian cuisine as other bars most probably won’t have real cider on offer. This is how I discovered El Furacu, a traditional Asturian restaurant in the famous neighbourhood of EixampleThis is where I was served my first ever sidra properly poured from a height. It happened to be Trabanco’s Sidra Natural, which is aged in chestnut barrels.Company: Sidra Trabanco
Place of Origin: Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Apples: a blend of bitter and sharp apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: ca. 100ml in an authentic sidra glass
Recommended type of glass: any glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale orange. No carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: on the nose is notes of ripe apples, lemon, orange and good old vinegar.

Taste: it starts dry with low residual sweetness and medium acidity of lemon and vinegar. On the mid-palate ripe yellow apples, fresh orange, grapefruit juice, a touch of grapefruit-like bitterness, a light astringent note and a yeasty taste. The finish is dry and herbal with a light watery taste and a light sauerkraut note,

Overall: after a long and tiring day of wandering the streets of beautiful Barcelona, Trabanco’s Sidra Natural tasted moreish and very refreshing. It had a lovely taste of orange and lemon with just a touch of acetic note. It clearly underwent malolactic fermentation as I could sense a distant note of Sauerkraut, meaning that lactic acid bacteria were at work. Anyway, sidra natural is in general not a cider for everyone but if you’re into Asturian sidra then trying Trabanco’s Sidra Natural is a must. I’m already dreaming of having another ‘copa’ (glass) or even ‘botella’ (bottle) of this offering. 4.5/6

Availability: very broad in Spain. Through Enobohemia, Quesosaquillino, Productos de Asturias, Despensa de AsturiasSidra y Sidras, El Corte InglesLa Tienda de la Sidra and many others. In Germany from Casa Molina.

Price: paid 1.75 EUR a glass at El Furacu, a traditional Asturian restaurant in Barcelona.

Envasavados Eva La Sidra de San Sebastian

La Sidra de San Sebastian is produced by Envasados Eva S.A, one of the leading producers of sparkling juices and sidras in Spain. Established in 1918, Envasados Eva S.A today markets various products under different brand names, including their own brands and private label brands. La Sidra de San Sebastian is one of the sidra from their product portfolio. Company: Envasavados Eva
Place of Origin: Lecumberri, Navarra, Spain
Apples: unknown
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 750ml green glass with natural cork
Recommended type of glass: flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale straw with no head. No carbonation. Body is low. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is dry, acidic and rustic with notes of funk, a touch of acetic acidity, lemon, grapefruit, green apples, herbs, olive brine. Also, with herbal and slightly salty notes.

Taste: it begins dry with medium acetic acidity. On the mid-palate lemon, green notes, a watery note,  herbal note and hints of funk. The finish is dry with a light astringent taste and lingering notes of grapefruit and sauerkraut.

Overall: La Sidra de San Sebastian doesn’t taste too bad for a commercial sidra. It’s drinkable, tastes natural, citrusy, refreshing with all parameters of a typical sidra. But again, it’s watery with a short finish. On top of that, La Sidra de San Sebastian lacks body, any complexity and depth, features of a great sidra. But, since it is easily available in my area and tastes citrusy-refreshing I think I would buy it again. So if you are looking for an undemanding, but refreshing tipple that won’t kill your stomach La Sidra de San Sebastian can be considered an option. In my view, it could go well with tapas or fish. 3/6

Availability: in Germany online and locally through Mitte Meer.

Price: purchased locally from Mitte Meer in Berlin at 3.40 EUR.

Trabanco Lagar de Camin

The Trabanco family has been making sidra on a commercial scale in Gijón, in the beautiful Spanish region of Asturias since 1925. As almost every family in this region, the Trabancos have been making sidra long before that but only for their own use. Sidra Trabanco has quickly emerged from a small family business to the large and well prospering Trabanco Group.  Today I have the pleasure of sampling their Lagar de Camin from their sparkling sidra range.
Company:
Sidra Trabanco
Place of Origin: Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Apples: a blend of bitter, acidic and sweet apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 750ml green glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a huge quickly reducing white head. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is dry and sweet at the same time, with notes of vinegar, tart apples, funk, barnyard, leather, fermented yellow apples, oak. Underlying slightly floral notes with a green apple round up the aroma.

Taste: it begins with high sweetness and low vinegary and citrusy acidity with grapefruit notes. On the mid-palate fermented apples and yellow apples with a lingering flavour of smoked cheese and a hint of green apple. It finishes dry with a grapefruit peel bitterness to the end.

Overall: Trabanco’s Lagar de Camin is a decent Spanish sidra that can be likeable. It has typical features of this cider style, acetic acidity and grapefruit flavours. Also, it has a nice structure and good breadth of flavours that are not boring. In my view, the taste of vinegar is not abundant, so it’s gentle on your stomach. It is advertised as sidra that pairs well with desserts, and I think I can agree with this recommendation. Moreover, Asian dishes could also pair well with it in my opinion. Personally, I found the Lagar de Camin too sweet to my palate but I didn’t get an impression that I am drinking a sugar-loaded acetic lemonade. Not at all! I enjoyed it. 4/6

Availability: through Enobohemia, Sabor de Siempre, La Tienda de la Sidra and many others.   

Price: purchased earlier last year at Chmielołak in Warsaw at 32 PLN (7.55 EUR). Unfortunately, I don’t think they carry it anymore.

Highlights and The Top 10 Ciders of 2017

As we wrap up another year, it’s time to look back at some of the most memorable ciders reviewed in 2017. It so happens that also my first year of blogging comes to a close. So I thought I’ll share with you my thoughts on 2017 from a perspective of a Berlin-based cider blogger.

First of all, I’ve met many inspiring people who taught me many things about cider, opened my eyes to the challenges and issues related to cider making and distribution and sales of the finished product in Europe. Thank you for sharing so many interesting stories and your experience with me!

My second observation is that real/craft cider is always made by passionate people, who not always are skilled and talented as Tom Oliver or Eric Bordelet, but they all share true love to cider and cider making. Some cider makers have a great potential for development but their cider still requires some improvement. Sometimes their cider just needs more time…

In addition, it was fascinating to see how the taste of cider might change with every batch. For example, Polish cider Japko (see the review here) I have tried in 2016 tasted much better than this year’s batch.

Last but not least, I’m proud that I have managed to bring together cider lovers from many European countries. Countries not always having a deep-rooted history of cider making. But as it turns out, cider brings people together! This is why the information about closing InCider Bar in Prague at the end of 2017 hit me really hard. InCider Bar was a unique place in Europe and will be sorely missed. But life goes on and cider drinkers can still meet at cider-themed events such as Slavnost Cideru in Prague, where you can talk to other cider lovers sharing their passion for cider just like you do. Btw, next year you can meet me on January 26th at the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2018.

But let’s get to the point. In 2017 I’ve reviewed around 200 different ciders mainly from Europe, but also from Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand. Some of them were exceptional and I couldn’t get enough of them, some of them went down the sink drain. And trust me, it was a real challenge to select only 10 out of over 200 ciders I have sampled (incl. cider tastings, cider festivals and ciders tried in Canada). So after long discussions (with myself) I have put together the top ten best ciders I’ve tried in 2017. I’ve selected ciders that are still available so you can purchase them and make your own opinion about them. The ciders are in alphabetical order by cider maker. Cheers and a happy cider year 2018!

  • A.K. Cider, Limonka, Vizovice, the Czech Republic, made with Jadernicka moravska (Pépin de Moravie)

img_8929

 

I’ve tried a number of Czech ciders this year, mainly at Slavnost Cideru 2017, but Limonka crafted by Martin from A.K. Cider was one of the best. Limonka has a complex structure and each note is nicely balanced not dominating over another. Not entirely dry, but also not too acidic Limonka is just perfect for a larger audience. I loved it! For the full review click here.

 

  • Chyliczki, Cydr Lodowy 2015, Masovia Poland

17410099_10154996658845915_458951715_nMy first acquaintance with ice cider made by Polish Cydr Chyliczki Was at the cider tasting organised by Przemek Iwanek from Piwo i Cydr in Warsaw. I was instantly blown away by Chyliczki’s ice cider. The only cider so far that got 6 out of 6. High acidity beautifully balancing out the sweetness makes this cider drinkable for everyone. Plus the flavour of baked apples and spices. Fantastic! For the full review click here.

  • Divoke Jablko, Cidre Brut, Klatovy District in the Plzeň Region, Czech Republic

img_7098-1

 

The most frequently consumed cider at Slavnost Cideru 2017, at least by me. Lovely citrusy notes of blood orange, lemon and grapefruit with a hint of funk add complexity and make this cider very quaffable. A cider for everyone. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Dorset Nectar, Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, UK,  a blend of Brown, Dabinett, Coate Jersey, Michelin, Tremletts Bitter, Taylor, Chesil Jersey, Sweet Coppin, Harry Master’s Jersey, Yarlington Mill and Porter’ Perfection

img_8924

 

Old Harry Rocks is like a jazz jam session, where each flavour would play it’s own music at the same time creating a wonderful, balanced, and unique piece. Lovely refreshing due to citrusy flavours and rustic to light funky notes. A masterpiece! For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Joachim Döhne, Apfelschaumwein Brut 2013 – Hesse, Germany – a cuvée of Boskoop, Jakob Lebel, Schöner von Herrenhut and Kaiser Wilhelm

img_6525-1

 

Both the palate and the nose of this Apfelschaumwein are intensely rich, with good structure and depth. Taste wise somewhere between French cidre, German Apfelwein and dry Champagne with a strong but balanced acidity. One of my favourites. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Gutshof Kraatz, Wilde Kerle 2016 – Uckermark, Germany – a cuvée of apples growing in the wild

img_8527-1

 

Soft tannins, fruity apple forward palate along with exceptionally long and lingering aftertaste make this Apfelwin a clear finalist and one of my favourite ciders. Perfect for slowly sipping will pair well with any kind of food. For the full review click here.

 

 

img_8926

This is the only Irish cider that made it to the top ten. But Longueville House Cider tastes really sophisticated and exceptional at the same time. It’s beautifully balanced with lots of depth and rich flavours complementing each other. This cider will simply appeal to everyone. Not too sweet, not too dry, not too sour and not too funky. Pure heaven! For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Perry’s Cider, Grey Heron, Somerset, UK, a blend of Redstreak and Dabinett

img_8927

 

I guess that any cider produced at Perry’s would taste glorious. It was already difficult for me to choose between the Grey Heron and The Barn Owl, which I’ve sampled in 2017. In the end, I’ve chosen the Grey Heron cause I will never forget the first sip of this cider. Lovely complex, with intensive taste, strong tannins and multiple flavours. Sweet but yet very drinkable. Unforgettable. For the full review click here.

 

  • Ramborn Cider, Farmhouse, Luxembourg – a blend of Erbachhofer, Holzapfel and Wiesenapfel

img_8925

 

Perhaps there is only one cidery in Luxembourg but a cidery producing outstanding ciders from locally available apple varieties. Farmhouse made it to the top ten although their Avalon Vintage 2015 tasted also spectacular, yet is not as widely available as the Farmhouse. The Farmhouse is a perfect marriage of oaky whisky notes with a crisp red apple. With every taken sip I could hear the angels singing. For the full review click here.

 

img_8928

 

There are many producers of sidra in Asturias but only 1947 Sidra Natural from Viuda de Angelon tasted good enough to be mentioned here. Nicely balanced sidra with a spectacular palate. Dangerously drinkable, will make you empty the bottle in no time. For the full review click here.