Monday, November 11, 2013

579. TXOPINONDO Sagarnoa

TXOPINONDO is a traditional Basque cidery in Ascain, France. I picked this up because recently I’ve been reminiscing about the dry French ciders I used to buy when I lived in Buffalo, and I was hoping this would live up those memories. It did, and then some. And aged in barrels, too? You had me at French.

Sagarnoa pours a slightly hazy straw with no head (it is not carbonated); the cider in the picture is from the second half of the bottle, so some of the yeast was stirred up, giving it a bit more haze than the initial pour. The nose has quite a bit going on; the initial smell is tart and sharp, followed by an underlying earthy and musty character. Both sides accentuate the apple, albeit in slightly different ways: the initial tartness comes across more as yeast derived, with the crisp, Granny Smith-like apple sour tang coming in underneath that, while the earthy aromatics strike me as apple derived, with the musty dry character reminiscent of classic dry French ciders. Flavors mirror the nose, opening with soft apple before moving into a mineral-ly lactic tartness that brings beads of sweat to my cheeks; this is followed by dry, earthy apple and pear flavors mixed with faint soft kisses of apple sweetness. There is a slight tannic skin bite in the lead into the finish, followed by bright citric tartness combined with a return of the initial mineral tartness and a slight gritty chalkiness on the tongue. The body is dry and clean, with the tartness standing in for the crispness usually provided by carbonation. This is a delightful and nuanced cider. It reminds me of previous French ciders I’ve had—dry, earthy, and crisp—although it does have more yeast presence in the flavor profile than more traditional French ciders, which I’ll admit to liking. This is also certainly nothing like the traditional American ciders of the last decade—think sweet, think cloying, think uninteresting—although this may be something akin to the newest run of Americanciders that Jeff Alworth has been writing about recently. Sadly, Dayton is not on the cutting edge of cider innovation. Anyone want to help me change that?

From the Txopinondo website: “Sagarno (literally apple wine) made in Txopinondo is a fermented beverage made ​​from apples, matured on lees in barrels for a minimum of six months, refreshing and fruity, served cold (approx. 53° F) with grilled fish or meat. We produce it according to an ancient and traditional method from local and elsewhere apples.”

ABV: 6%


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