Monday, May 1, 2023

Cider Review: Sider Aga Boddel

I’ve been back from Norway for a few days now, thanks so much for your patience while I took a week off from blogging to see someplace completely new and different. It was a fabulous experience filled with public art, walking new neighborhoods, hearing the sounds of unfamiliar languages, and seeing many different kinds of weather over the course of four days! Of course finding a Norwegian cider had to be priority, so here’s what I thought of Aga Sideri’s Bøddel.

I found Aga Sideri’s - Bøddel Sider frå Hardanger [Pages from Hardanger] at a vinmonopolet in Oslo. (I mangle this word in my mind, because it reminds me of a combination of the app Venmo and the french word for chicken, poulet). In reality, it’s a wine and spirits monopoly owned by the government. They have fantastic labeling, and I was able to get good knowledgeable help finding a cider that’s both dry and bubbly. I did want to increase my odds of finding just the right cider for me. That’s how I chose to try Bøddel Sider by Aga Sideri.

Looking up a bit about Aga Sideri online and using Google Translate gives me this additional info. All of this is from the website.

Visit for yourself here:

Aga Sideri lies idyllically between high mountains, in the heart of Hardanger.

Joar Aga is a seventh-generation farmer at Aga, and started Aga Sideri in 2018. The garden is close to both mountains and fjords, surrounded by cultural heritage and large tei. Here in Sørfjorden there is an excellent climate for fruit growing, as well as a rich tradition for silk production. On steep slopes, we grow a handful of different apple varieties which we carefully harvest and process for use in both must and cider.

I used Google to translate the description of the cider, and this is what I got. Please forgive any imperfections here! I’m also including a brief history from the cider website about the person who inspired the name of this cider. 

Apple variety: Aroma, Gravenstein, Bramley's Seedling and James Grieve

Alcohol: 9%

Volume: 750 ml

Sweetness: Dry

Suitable for: Savory dishes (cured food, tacos)

History of Executioner

Samson Isberg (1795-1873) grew up on the farm Isberg, just south of Aga. He moved away from his father and stepmother early on, and joined the military in Bergen. In 1834 he got work as an executioner. He was Norway's penultimate executioner, and the first prince to have the entire country as his official area. Despite his gloomy professional title, Samson was portrayed as a kind-hearted and popular man. After fifteen executions, Samson retired. As the end of his life approached, he said "it will be hard to meet them again on the other side, the people I have parted with my life.

I’ll admit, I almost didn’t pick the cider with the giant axe on the bottle, but read on to find out how it tastes! But looking at the higher than average ABV, the fact that it lists specific apple varieties, plus being promised as both bubbly and dry, I had to try it.

Appearance: mild warm straw, brilliant, active bubbles

The cider is a pale shade of warm straw color with mild intensity. What’s less mild is the cider’s brilliance with effervescent bubbles.

Aromas: minerals, hint of volatile acidity, pear, salt

The Boddel smells minerally with hints of volatile acidity and salt. More persistently I detect fruit notes like pear. These aromas definitely create a salivary reaction.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

As promised, this is a dry cider! I’m so excited. I never quite know how to interpret a new description of sweetness or dryness, but there’s nothing better than accuracy! 

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, high acidity, plentiful fine bubbles.

I’m so thrilled with how the Boddel tastes! I love that it offers both high acids and high tannins. That’s my first impression. Secondarily, the vast quantities of tiny bubbles are just so pleasing. Yum!

The tannins hit first with this cider—these are different apples than my co-taster and I are used to. The pear notes come out to play along with pepper and vanilla. The combination warms up the whole experience. I don’t notice how powerful the acids are until almost the cider’s finish. I appreciate that even with high acids and high tannins, the tasting experience remains rounded, full, and even custardy. Could the cider be barrel aged perhaps? I don’t know, but it’s stony and soft at once. The Boddel is cleanly fermented and wonderfully nuanced. I love this super sophisticated cider. 

We had ours with delicious pizza in a hotel room while watching April snow falling outside. It’s a pairing and a memory, I’ll happily treasure.