On the left, Isastegi Sagarda Naturala, to the right, 2007 Henny's Still Cider - care to guess which one is filtered?
Leave all the margarita swilling, Corona sipping and Pacifico slugging to everyone else on this most amateur of amateur evenings. That's what I say, anyway. It's Tuesday night, the mood is right, and I decided upon a different course of action for el 5 de mayo, one that is near and dear to my heart: comparative tasting.
Recently I fell in love with Isastegi Sagardo Naturala, a natural Spanish Basque cider imported by that champion of all things Basque, Andre Tamers of De Maison Imports. The cider is essentially still, just slightly fizzy, and tastes of tart apples. It's sour, light, crisp, invigorating and most refreshing. Also unfiltered and very naturally made from apples indigenous to Pais Vasco. Only in really tiny harvests will the producer supplement with apples from Galicia and, if things are really rough, from France. While I doubted I'd find anything its equal for the price (usually $9-$11), I thought I'd give another highly reputed still cider a try, 2007 Henny's Cider from England. It's also imported by some passionate folks, the Shelton Brothers in Belchertown, Massachusetts.
The result? Henny's is definitely more appley, tasting more of the fruit and the juice that I recognize as an apple, and as a result also sweeter. Though sugar is added (as well as malic acid). The apple flavors are rounded out by darker, burnt brown sugar notes and a pleasantly bitter finish. All in all a very decent cider, but nowhere near as gulpable and impressionable as the Isastegi.
Pues, los vascos ganan. The Basques win (anyone care to offer a basque translation?) Regardless of the result, I'm just happy to have enjoyed a couple of tasty ciders and not have been stuck in an overcrowded dive taking shots of tequila with a back of Corona.