Cider Week NYC at TEW!
It’s Cider Week in NYC, and since we have some of the best Spanish, French and American ciders on offer, we are psyched to celebrate! From De Maison Selections, we bring you Isastegi, Trabanco, and Bordatto Etxaldea. And from the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, we carry Foggy Ridge Cider. In these bottles, you’ll find a full range of apple varietals and flavors, from fresh fruit to tart and funk. And whether served with tapas, as an aperitif or on their own, some of our ciders are easy drinking, while others are complex like wine.
Trabanco- Established in 1925 by Emilio Trabanco, and built upon the family’s home brewing practice, the Trabanco cider house oversees all aspects of production, from the planting of orchards to the bottling and distribution. Beginning with apples that are mostly hand picked by family and friends, the fruit is then hand selected and pressed with traditional wood presses (along side the few stainless steel hydraulic presses have recently been added). “This is a very important family in Asturias,” says André, “the largest cider producer. All of their apples come from their own trees and they’re still working with wood. They’re historically important,” he added, “…still working with wood tanks and wood presses. They’re emblematic…and the 2010’s haven’t even arrived yet.”
The family’s 150 acres of apples equates to about 40,000 trees; and after the fruit has been washed, picked through, and milled, the apples are reduced to a pomace. Pressed and repressed for a total of four days, the result is then ready to ferment. Employing natural bacterias and yeasts, this process is temperature controlled and impurities are removed through a decanting of the cider a few times during a waning moon. Adhering to traditional methods, all cider spends half of its time fermenting in chestnut casks.
Trabanco produces two ciders, the first-Trabanco Cosecha Propia-is a traditional cider made from native apple varietals that are fermented with indigenous yeast to yield a cider that’s tart, low in alcohol, and without carbonation. The second, Poma Aurea, is made from a “selection of apples from the best orchards within the DOP.” Fermented in old barrels with indigenous yeast, the Poma Aurea undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle for six months, before being disgorged. Made in the methode champenoise, the Poma Aurea is yeasty on the nose and slightly dusty with an underlying tartness that is bone dry on the palate. There’s a marriage of minerality and light apple fruit that lingers clean on the finish without any hint of sweetness. Drink with light fare or without…it’s absolutely delicious.
Isastegi-An old family estate, the Isastegi farms originally supported livestock, but in 1983, the family switched from cattle to apple trees, so that they might extend the reach of their cider to the public. Initially, Isastegi cider was made in home for family and friends, but as word spread, along with demand, the family expanded. Recent renovations, including the addition of pressing and bottling rooms and space added for kupelas (large old oak cider barrels), has allowed for an increase in production. And though they grow their own fruit, Martin and Miguel Mari supplement their own stock with local apples from Tolosa.
Pale gold in color and complex with a light spritz, Isastegi is a cider is for wine lovers. Unlike ciders from elsewhere in the world, this one is high in acidity, lacking in residual sweet, and funky. Fermented with indigenous yeast, it drinks like a lambic, austere and refreshing with sour apple notes. It’s most certainly a brilliant homage to apple fruit.
Bordatto Etxaldea-Bordatto’s Bitxinxo Aphaule started his career as a winemaker but soon fell in love with cider. He founded Bordatto with the idea that he could craft a better cider by applying farming methods utilized in vineyards to apple orchards. Terroir is often overlooked when people talk about cider but Bitxinxo feels that characteristics of the site such as soil, orientation, tree age and varietal are just as important to cider, as they are to wine and he’s out to prove it. Green harvests and extensive pruning are employed in the orchards, and all of the apples are hand-harvested and only native yeasts are used in all stages of fermentation.
The flagship cider of Bordatto is the Txala Parta, named for the traditional Basque percussion instrument. This bottle-conditioned cider is made from only the barrel-friendly Avisa apple and is aged for 6 months before bottling. Basa Jaun, named for the “wild man” of Basque mythology, is a hearty, acidic cider made from 30 different apple varieties.
Foggy Ridge-Located in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, Foggy Ridge Cider grows heirloom apples and makes hard cider near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Over 30 uncommon apple varieties, all chosen for the sugar, acid and tannin needed for fine cider, are blended in three ciders. All ciders are between 7% and 8% alcohol, which is the alcohol gained from fermentation only (no chaptalizing). They ferment in temperature controlled stainless, with a long cool ferment (50 to 54 degrees F) to maintain fruity aromas.
One distinguishing characteristic of the ciders is the fruit quality—not only do they grow cider apples but they harvest for peak flavor and complexity, which means multiple harvests per apple variety. Foggy Ridge is a “farmer cider” not a factory cider—they hand pick and press, ferment slowly, blend carefully and bottle by hand. Unlike many commercial ciders, they use all the orchard practices and fermentation controls that any fine winemaker would use with high quality grapes. For Sweet Stayman, the sweetest cider, they back sweeten with juice from the highest Brix apples. No sugar or fructose is ever added for sweetening.
Serious Cider is .4% R.S., comparable to a classic white such as Pinot Grigio or Gruner Veltliner. The high tannin apples in this blend, the acidity and CO2 add to the perception of dryness. This blend includes our English apples, which are all inedible from their high tannin and acid, as well as Ashmead’s Kernel, a high acid apple “not for sissies”. Drink Serious Cider as you would drink dry champagne—before dinner with fatty nibbles like cheese.
First Fruit is 1.2% R.S. and comparable to medium dry aromatic American white or, if sparkling, a Seco. It is more fruity and aromatic than Serious Cider, yet because of the acid (from the Hewe’s Crabapples) reads “tart” rather than “sweet”. First Fruit is a balanced food friendly cider that pairs well with many flavor combinations. It is fabulous with washed rind and aged cheeses. This is our best selling cider.
Sweet Stayman is 2.3% R.S., comparable to a sweeter Riesling or medium sweet American white. For a sparkling wine it would be in the Semi-Seco category. We use the true old-fashioned Stayman apple, a mountain favorite that is tart with bursting apple flavor. We worked hard to balance this sweeter cider and believe we succeeded. Drink Sweet Stayman with spicy Thai dishes or hearty roasts in winter.