Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sidra Escanciador - Sparkling Sidra


Sidra Escanciador - Sparkling Sidra
Saludos desde Espana!! (Greetings from Spain!!). So I thought it would be time to head over to the land of Rafa Nadal and Fernando Alonso and try some of Spain’s finer sidra (cider) offerings. I must note, although I’m not over in Spain in physical stature, I’m there in spirit – and that’s the main thing! Sigh!

Spain is a known sidra producing country in Europe, with Asturias (in the North), and Basque (in the North East) considered the major producing regions. Asturias is made famous by the vertical pour or escanciar un culín, where a person holds the bottle above their head and pours the liquid into a glass held below their waste. The theory here is oxygen makes contact with the highly volatile sidra and aerates it, giving a sparkling mouth feel. Although this is a highly traditional Asturian procedure - seen pictured, I just see it as an attempt to make the poorly made sidra drinkable.

Sidra Escanciador is a sidra producing company from Villaviciosa, Asturias. The company has been making and crafting sidra since 1914, and has only increased in production and popularity ever since. In 1963, Sidra Escanciador also became the first Spanish producer to put their sparkling sidra into 330mL bottles! Today the company not only exports to Europe, but North and South America, Australia, Japan and parts of Africa. Not a bad effort really. Another cool little fact is their company logo is actually a little Spanish man carrying out the escanciar un culín technique.

The sidra in question is none the less, very poor. To begin, it’s filtered to a clear finish and is deep golden straw in colour. When the cork is popped, the artificial carbonation levels are evidently high as it froths up in the glass. Spilling sidra all over my timber laminate floor via a failed vertical pour was not what I had in mind, so I unfortunately didn’t give it a go. Next time maybe on the lawn!  As you swirl the sidra around in the glass, the foam rages into an angry beast and immediately you get hints of volatile acidity. *Exit positives, insert negatives now. The nose was without doubt a weird, weird experience. Firstly it was slightly corked – cork taint, also know as TCA (2,4,6 - Trichloroanisole) is a common fault in wines stored under cork. It gives off a musty, hessian bag character – which was evident here. This taint was also in competition with the volatile ethyl acetate, or nail polish remover (another wine taint), and they definitely didn’t complement each other. However, there was some stewed apple notes which I did pick up on combined with some old oak cask funk. I hate to say it, but the nose was very poor and to an average Australian consumer this would not appeal.
Palate wise it doesn’t get any better, with a sickly over ripe apple character making it hard to drink. The sweetness was very high but does give the mouth feel a sense of weight. There is some acidity lurking around which does help to cut through the sugar. But from my experiences, the sugar tasted like cheap concentrate, and the acid profile like a malic/tartaric acid combination. There was also no evidence of tannins or astringency, and along with the deep golden colour lead me to believe this sidra had been handled very oxidatively in oak. Even at 4% alcohol, the heat on the back palate was very noticeable and so was the enormous amount of steely sulphur dioxide which was not pleasant at all. So overall, the palate was very simple but largely out of balance in the key elements of sweetness, acidity, astringency, alcohol and sulphur.

This is ‘headache in the morning’ material and I would advise to stay clear of this sidra. This style is not suited to Australian cider drinker palates, and really is only for the keen cider enthusiast. I have to admit I struggled to get through a couple glasses to even review it. So do yourself a favour and maybe give this bad boy a miss, you’ll thank me for it!
Producer: Sidra Escanciador
Country: Spain (Asturias)
Alcohol: 4%

Rating: 2 out of 10

Cheers!

*picture taken from asturiasdebares.wordpress.com

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