The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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Page 54 of 120

54 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 { beyond the vine } LIKE FRANCE'S NORMANDY REGION, Spain's Asturias, on the country's northern Atlantic coast, is mad about cider, with locals consuming nearly 55 liters per capita yearly of the moderately alcoholic (around 6 percent ABV) fermented apple bever - age, called sidra in Spanish. Just like Spain's fine wines and traditional foodstuffs, ciders from this region enjoy their own official appellation: DOP Sidra de Asturias. "Wherever you find a Celtic enclave, you'll find cider," notes 29-year-old cider authority Anthony Belliveau-Flores, who with his brother brings Asturian and other ciders to the U.S. market through their company, Rowan Imports, founded in 2011. (Spain's western Galicia province and northeastern Basque Country are also rich in sidra). Belliveau-Flores is spear - heading a drive to encourage American beverage directors and their customers to take cider as something more serious than kicky apple juice. "We treat it like wine," the importer says. Twenty-two individual varieties of apple are permitted in the Sidra de Asturias DOP. "Plenty of these orchards are 200 years old," says Belliveau-Flores, who is currently building an apple database to help both cider producers and consumers better understand the product. The ciders are bet - ter when made from a blend of apples, the importer maintains, "but we want people to know what fruit goes into the blend." An attention-getting marketing tool that Asturian ciders have in their favor is the signature pouring technique known in Spain as el escanciado. The trick is to hold the bottle high and the glass low to cre - ate a four-foot arc of cider that splashes into the glass dramatically. Similar to a rough decant, the method aerates the cider and creates a slight petillance in the glass. Used in Spain's numerous sidrerías (cider bars), the pour emulates serving cider directly from the massive 20,000- liter chestnut barrels found in the region's llagares, or cider manufacturies. El escan - ciado is an art form in Asturias, where a yearly championship is held to find the most accomplished escanciador. Belliveau-Flores details the steps for achieving the perfect pour. First, spin the chilled bottle to distribute the lees (called la madre—the mother—in Spanish). After opening, hold the bottle over your head, while holding the traditional wide- mouthed tumbler below your waist, slightly tilted. Pour slowly, hitting the top inner lip of the glass. The standard pour is about three ounces, meant to be con - sumed immediately in one long draught. It's de rigueur in Asturias to leave a small portion of cider to be tossed into the drain, readying the glass for the next pour. For more info on Asturian ciders, see (in Spanish only, for now) or PHOTO: TONYMADRID PHOTOGRAPHY It's All in the Pour CIDERS TO TRY Cortina Sidra Natural Fresh, straw-like color; distinctive fruity aroma and smooth on the palate. Val d'Ornón From the Menéndez family farms, where all 22 permit - ted apple varieties are blended into a complex cider with rustic, earthy qualities. Castañón Sidra Natural From one of the most technically advanced producers in Asturias. Balanced and full-bodied with a tart, astringent finish. Villacubera 100% Regona A single-varietal sidra made entirely from Regona apples. White fruit high - lighted by citrus notes. Emilio Martínez From venerable Sidra El Gobernador, this brand is made Champagne- style, using secondary in-bottle fermentation for pronounced effervescence. The traditional pour of cider—el escanciado— is an art form in Asturias. SPANISH CIDERS ARE MAKING A SPLASH by Anthony Dias Blue

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