Planning an orchard and knowing how to combine traditional methods of cultivation together with the latest innovations is fundamental for a successful orchard. One also has to select the varieties of apples, the ones that year after year will continue to produce a balanced cider full of flavours and aroma.
Innovation is key to reducing a problem which throughout the years Asturian apples have suffered from, one year a bumper harvest , another year an insufficient amount. Our cider mills are now applying techniques in their orchards which allow them to balance out the harvesting of apples, enabling them to standardise cider production, year after year.
Standardized orchards only
The sidra de Manzana Seleccionada is produced using only apples grown in Asturias, in standardised orchards, following strict guidelines not only in the cultivation but also in the way they are picked.
From September to December, Asturias smells of apples. It´s Harvest time. The moment to plan the collection of our apples. It has to be done at the optimal point of maturity, not too early, nor too late, and each variety of apples mature at their own rate.
Every day, without fail, our cidermills and standardised local producers process the cider apples and ensure they reach our mills ready to be pressed.
Asturias apple only
The sidra de Manzana Seleccionada is checked at this point, to guarantee its production has been carried out only with our selected varieties of apples and harvested in our standardised orchards.
Selecting the best apples is extremely important, as is the cleanliness of the apples. To ensure this, our apples are washed and rinsed again and again with water before being cut into pieces.
These chopped apples are then put into presses, parts of which are wooden and over a hundred years old. These presses have extracted the juice out of thousands of millions of apples and continue to play a vital part at this stage of production of apple juice or sweet cider.
This sweet cider, delicious with chestnuts is then put into barrels where the fermentation begins.
Natural. Traditional. Without additives but, with lots of love and attention from our workers , who day by day help give life to the cider in our plants.
Accordance with tradition
In this phase verification takes place to ensure that the cider is being produced in accordance with tradition and the established procedures to obtain quality cider.
Spontaneous and natural, that´s how cider is made, a bio-chemical reaction over time in our cellars.
Cider fermentation has two parts: Alcoholic (sugar into alcohol) and malic-lactic (malic acid into lactic acid). The process continues with the skill of the cider-maker and his team, who each day taste the apple juice as it continues its transformation into cider, checking for defects and enhancing its finer qualities.
La sidra de Manzana Seleccionada (Selected Apple Cider) differs at this juncture to bring to the market “la sidra sobre la madre” which sleeps, so to speak, over it´s own sediment, recovering the tradion of the tasting of the first cider of the year. It´s a cider which is only available from March to May as it´s a young, tender, unbalanced cider.
The cider is transferred from full barrels to empty ones, removing sediment and cloudiness with the objective of producing balanced cider with the producers´ own unique style.
Quality check in the whole process
During the fermentation process strict tests including chemical analysis are conducted to ensure the future sidra de Manzana Seleccionada meets the required regulations.
Quality can be measured, and as such, la sidra de Manzana Seleccionada has one last hurdle to overcome before it goes on sale: A cider tasting in which renowned cider experts examine the ciders presented for certification.
The cider´s visual aspect, its aroma and flavour are examined. Only those ciders which achieve a minimum of 7 points are certified and obtain the label which identifies them as sidra de Manzana Seleccionada.
La sidra de Manzana Seleccionada is marketed, with a label specifying the bottle number, batch number and the stamp of Bureau Veritas which guarantees that the cider has surpassed all quality controls.
A quality cider, deserves a premium service. Exactly like the service in the cider bars (chigres) and restaurants where it is served. A quality cider, served at the right temperature (around 10 to 12c), chilled in fresh water, stored as it should and served in a traditional cider glass.
And, very importantly, well poured (bien escanciado). This is what defines and differentiates cider produced in Asturias. How it is poured, the art, and it is an art, of pouring the cider from a great height and breaking the cider against the inside wall of the glass. This awakens the carbon dioxide and allows you to taste, smell and see all of the cider´s qualities.