Cider has grown in popularity in the recent decade, even Stella are doing it (yikes!). The UK government was quick to catch on the trend too, with a 10% duty hike in the 2010 budget. This decision received such a public outcry; loudest coming from the South West of the country naturally, the new government quickly shelved the decision.
With growing popularity come risks. Industrialised and unloved, the big business has done for cider what generic blends have done for wine. Funky labels, long shelf life and big advertising budgets have reduced the delicious taste of cider to a “one-for-all” supermarket product line. Ask any self-respecting cider drinker about the products which currently represent the cider industry and watch their cheeks flush up in rage.
Northern Spain has a long standing relationship with gastronomy so it was no surprise to find the cider was well produced, cloudy and natural. But what makes it different, why has it caught our attention and seduced our palate?
With so many great wines in this region, at first our interests were easily side tracked by the likes of the delicious Txakoli (pronounced cha-co-li), a light, slightly carbonated local white wine gem. The mistake not to make is to think once you have found one discovery there will not be others. This terroir here has an insatiable offer as our cider discovery has shown.
As we set out to satisfy our inquisitive appetite and further this encounter, the more we travelled and spoke to locals the more we realised just how big a part cider was to this society. It was entrenched in the history, tradition, gastronomy (of course) but most of all everyday life. Everything from how the apples are grown, selected, crushed, bottled and served is unique. But just being different is not enough. We are surprised just how humble and unpretentious the locals are with something of such high quality.
A string of taste provoking metaphors to describe this cider simply wont do here, you have to try it to appreciate the flavour of the hand selected apples and the fizz induced by the overhead pour.