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The Ciders of Bordatto Etxaldea

T. Edward Wines, Cider Distributor, Bordatto Etxaldea, Andre tamers

From Irouléguy, we bring you the ciders of Bordatto Extaldea.  Farmed and fermented at the hands of Bitxinxo Aphaule, who began his career as a winemaker, these three ciders are made from estate grown heirloom varietals.  Frustrated by the lack of attention that’s generally paid to terroir when growing apples, Aphaule decided to translate his experience with vines to trees so that he could produce terroir specific ciders.

Founded in 2001, the estate consists of 4.5ha, with 3.5ha planted to 30 different apple varietals and the other 1ha planted to Tannat. A practitioner of agriculture biologique, Aphaule treats his trees like vines, employing such techniques as green harvesting and pruning.  By paying careful attention to varietal, soil, tree age and orientation, he crafts Basque ciders that allow the fruit to speak for itself.

A vintage specific cider, Txalaparta (pronounced “tchalaparta”) is made from a selection of two different local varietals: Apez Sagarra, which contributes to the cider’s tannic structure and aromatics, and Eztika, for its smoothing of edges and expression of fruit.  Racked and fermented on lees in oak barrels for 5 months, using only indigenous yeasts, the cider then sees a second, in-bottle fermentation for 2-3 months, without the addition of dosage.  At 6.5% alcohol, the Txalaparta 2010, is the most complex of Bordatto’s ciders.  Slightly funky on the nose – a note that eventually subsides – the apple fruit becomes more prevalent as the cider opens.  Supported by hints of corn and earthy green peppers, the tannins are balanced by great acidity, offering grip on the palate that makes one pause and consider…

T. Edward Wines, bordatto etxalder cider

Crafted from a blend of 15 different local varietals (including Ondo Motxa, Eri Sagarra, Anisa, Gordin Xuri, Minxuri, Azau Sagarra Eztirotxia, Geza Xuria, Mandoburua, and Patzulua) all of which are separately pressed, the Basajuan (“The wild man or the devil” in Basque mythology) is racked and fermented on lees with native yeasts in stainless steel for 4 months.  Further fermented in the bottle for an additional two months (again without the addition of sweet liquor or yeast), the Basajaun 2011 is drier than the Txalaparta, with aromas that suggest a late fall walk through the orchard, followed by a subtle sweep of grain.  Easy drinking and incredibly refreshing the Basajuan is linear with a clean finish.

While the Txalaparta can remain in bottle for 3-4 years following release, and the Basajuan can sit for 2-3 additional years, the Basandere is intended to be consumed young. Translated as “Wild Woman” in Basque mythology, the Basandere 2011 is semi-dry and racked and naturally fermented in stainless steel for 3 months, before fermenting for another 2 months in the bottle.  Made from a variety of 12 local varieties (including Mamula Eztika, Eri Sagarra, Anisa, Jinkoa, Gehesia Gorria, Errezila, Koko Xuria, and Bordelesa) the Basandere is savory sweet on the palate with pleasant acidity and a hint of wintergreen in its velvety tannins.

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