The cider market in the United States has grown over 500 percent since 2011. While that is something to crow about, cider’s roots go much deeper and farther than just North American soils. Get to know cider on a global scale, using this introductory guide to six major international cider cultures. First up was Great Britain, followed by Ireland and France. Now, on to Spain!
Though many parts of Europe have cider traditions that go back hundreds of years, many people believe Spain’s is by far the oldest, stretching back more than two millennia. While documentation is sparse, there are plenty of wills from the eighth century that mention orchards, and certainly by the 12th century, apple growing was a central part of the local economy. Cider, or sidra in Spanish, is a product of “Green Spain,” the verdant strip that stretches across Spain’s northern coast from the Pyrenees Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, particularly in the regions of Asturias and the Basque Country. Over the centuries a unique serving style developed, where small amounts of cider are poured into a glass from a height of several feet, a process which is integral to its flavor and enjoyment.
The Current Scene
Traditional sidra natural is fermented with native yeasts and bottled unfiltered. It is bright and fresh, with more acid than tannin, and sometimes a bit of a vinegary note. It is drunk in great quantities throughout the region at almost any social occasion — at home with a meal, at festive gatherings or in cider-specific restaurants (siderias). Though the market for the traditional style is robust, in the last decades cider companies have created many innovative products they believe will open up new markets, both within other parts of Spain and as exports to other countries. The new styles include ciders that are sparkling, others that are filtered and wine-like (neuva expression), ice ciders and ciders enhanced with other flavors.
4 Regional Apples to Know:
Coloradona, Raxao, Regona, Blanquina
Classic Ciders to Sip
Sidra Fanjul Natural Ecológica: A classic Asturian sidra natural with flavors of anise and lemon, plus tropical notes of pineapple and guava and just a touch of volatile acidity.
El Gaitero Sidra Pomarina Brut: A Champagne-like cider, clean, dry and sparkling with light notes of crisp, green apples, lemon and grapefruit.
Viuda de Angelón Sidra con Miel: The addition of honey gives this modern, semi-dry, sparkling cider a touch of sweetness plus a bit of mildly bitter beeswax.
This article originally ran in print Vol. 13 of Cidercraft magazine. For the full story and more like it, click here.