What's New in November

Trabanco Orchard

Golden Apples that Sparkle

Every once in a while we stumble across a new wine that just shocks us, making us take a step back and rethink what we thought that we knew. Poma Áurea is one such wine, or, we should say, one such cider.

It all started a few years ago when someone asked us where the txakolina pouring ritual started and why they use those tumblers. We asked around and did some research and to our surprise found that it all started with cider. Getariako Txakolina originated as an attempt to make wine that would mimic the style of Basque cider, and so the same rituals involved with drinking cider carried over to txakolina. We instantly knew that we needed to try some of this cider, or sagardo as the Basque call it.

Eventually we found Isastegi. We instantly loved it and became convinced that we needed more cider. Through our quest for Basque cider we found that the cider from neighboring Asturias is very similar in style (some people even say that cider was introduced to the Basque Country from Asturias). So it was off to Asturias to discover what they had to offer.

Now while cider is a popular beverage within the Basque Country, it is the beverage of choice in Asturias. For the most part the people of Asturias don't drink wine, they drink cider. Vineyards are rare, every bar and restaurant pours cider, the food is designed with cider in mind, you could even go as far as to say that cider is the wine of Asturias. So when André traveled to Asturias looking cider there was an abundance of options. But one cider house stood out from the rest: Trabanco.

Started in 1924 by Emilio Trabanco, the Trabanco cider house quickly rose to prominence through a combination of traditional methods and modern technology. Today Emilio's grandchildren are running the show and they're still making cider the traditional way, with the same wooden presses and the same giant chestnut barrels that their grandfather used. But they've added some new things to the line including the Poma Áurea.

Poma ÁureaPoma Áurea is a great departure from the regional standard natural cider, first and foremost because it's bubbly. Not bubbly like those sugary sweet ciders you'll find in the beer section of your local grocery store, but bubbly like a glass of Cava, and that's because it's produced in the méthode champenoise. The apples for the Poma Áurea are hand selected from the harvest of the region’s best orchards and pressed in the old wooden presses. The juice is then fermented with indigenous yeast in 50 year old chestnut barrels. During bottling a bit of their apple must, with the indigenous yeast, is added to trigger secondary fermentation. Once secondary fermentation is complete the bottles are disgorged and a bit of Trabanco's own apple juice is added as the dosage.

The resulting cider is something amazingly its own. Exuberant aromas of apples mingle with an earthy component reminiscent of the natural fungi of the cider house. It is bone dry on the finish with similar flavors replicated on the palate. We could not believe what we were tasting. It was so different than any other cider we've tried, it tasted more like Cava yet it was still clearly cider. We didn't know what to think other than that we had to have more. And so we had a few pallets loaded onto a container bound for America.

Our first shipment of Trabanco's Poma Áurea is landing this month, just in time for holiday celebrations. But there's more from Trabanco on the way. This spring we will be releasing the Trabanco cider, a crisp and refreshing dry natural cider, and then next fall will see the release of the Trabanco Gran Reserva, a more traditional natural cider slowly fermented in the chestnut barrels. We'll have more information on those two when we get closer to their release, but for now sit back, enjoy a glass of Poma Áurea and discover how wonderful you never knew cider could be.

Also New...

2009 Cocktail Contest: Sherry

Our 2009 Cocktail Contest is almost over. We want your original Sherry Cocktail recipes, please email them to us. The winner will receive a hand painted porron from this year's guest artist: Mike Jakob of the Elliot Street Deli & Pub in Atlanta, Georgia. We will be tasting through this year's recipes next month so be sure to get your submission in by the end of November to be eligible for the 2009 Sherry Cocktail Contest. Here is the latest submission:

Canal Tribute
By Fernando A. from New Jersey

1/2 oz El Maestro Sierra Fino
1/2 oz Woodford Rerserve Bourbon
2 frozen orange wedges
Splash of Triple Sec
Combine ingredients and shake very hard. Strain into a whisky glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel.

The Basque Connection
By Bill N. of FINO Restaurant, Pation and Bar in Austin, TX

1.5 oz Citadelle Reserve Gin
1 oz Pimm's No. 1
1/2 oz El Maestro Sierra Oloroso
2 dashes of Persimmon Bitters (or Angostura Orange Bitters)
Combine all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass and stir to thoroughly chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with flamed orange coin.

Tia Ardis
By David C. from San Francisco, CA

1.5 oz El Maestro Sierra Amontillado
3/4 oz Averna
1/2 oz Amaretto di Serrano
1/2 oz fresh squezed Meyer Lemon juice
Combine the El Maestro Sierra Amontillado, Averna, Amaretto, and fresh squezed Meyer Lemon juice in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Pour a splash of Pernod into a chilled martini glass and swirl to coat glass, discard excess Pernod. Strain mixture into the glass and garnish with an orange twist.