Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cider Review: Quebrada del Chucao Sidra Brut Nature

One of my favorite things when I travel is to try exciting ciders that I've never seen before and last week I had a few chances in San Francisco. I didn't make to all of the cider stops I wanted to, but I knew when I saw a cider from Chile that I had to taste it. I was at The Jug Shop when I saw Quebrada del Chucao Sidra.

I was able to find out a little bit about this cider company through the importer that brings it to the United States: Brazos Wine Importer. According to them and the Quebrada del Chucao website, the company has been around since 2010 in Chile. It is a colaboration between an fruit-producing family and a university trained winemaker. The back of the bottle describes the orchards from which the apples came as being more than 60 years old. There are loads of cider producers working with much younger orchards.

Check out the beautiful website:

I found a description on the website that goes into a little more detail about this particular cider.
A bright light golden color with subtle green highlights, the Quebrada del Chucao apple cider recalls all the characteristics of the apples from which it is made. It’s very dry taste, due to a Brut Nature character, balances well with its natural acidity, giving it the freshness to be a very good compliment to various savory foods. Tiny natural bubbles help enhance its freshness. Ideal to pair with pork and cheese or to have it on its own as an aperitif.
A few more facts drawn from the bottle: 7.5%ABV and bottle conditioned for a natural sparkle.

So, I apologize for the glassware in this picture. I do not travel the beautiful breakable glass I prefer, so I make do with the finest picnic ware my hotel had to offer. ; )

Appearance: bubbly, harvest moon color, brilliant

This cider pours foamy and stays very bubbly in the cup. The dark colour reminds me of a harvest moon. I'd call the cider brilliant, but sadly I cannot show that with the pictures I have.

Aromas: sweet, briney, a bit of funk

Intersting, the sidra smells sweet and briney: a little French, a little English somehow. From the aromas I suspect a high acid cider. There are some gently wild notes that veer toward the funky. My curiousity is definitely piqued.

Sweetness: dry to off-dry

Oooh! So often when a cider reminds me of the french style of cidermaking in its aroma, I expect it to be on the sweeter side. This surprised me! Its definitely more toward the dry/off dry line.

Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, wild, english, tannic 

Surprises abound! This cider has notably high tannins, high acid, and lots of sparkle. So many of my favorite features are coming together with with some fun and modestly funky wildness. These apples are from Chile, but this cider tastes pretty darn English in its style! (Very happily for me!) Wow, this is very good.

In terms of actual flavor notes, I primarily taste mellow tropical fruit—not fresh fruit but fermented fruit. There's a lot of mango, a bit of brown sugar, but its not sweet as such. The  tannins are woody and astringent with apple skin notes. Overall the cider tastes mature, gently bitter and austere. This is not a cider for beginners, but it's really good. Just a leeeetle olive in the flavor but not too salty.  The acids linger in the chest: again, I get more tropical notes than appley ones. What apple I do get has wisps of bruised apple along with walnut or almond. 

The cider is refreshing, farmy, funky and fun. The 7.5% ABV is neither masked nor hot.  In terms of mouthfeel the bubbles are insisten and fairly large.

I enjoyed this cider as the main event of a little hotel room picnic on my second to last night of vacation. We had sugar snap peas, brie, wheaty crackers, cut fruit, red pepper and walnut dip, and finished the meal with dark chocolate toffee covered in crushed pistachio nuts. Heavenly.

The last note, I'd like to leave you with is a closer view of the gorgeous label. One of the main folks behind this cider is a graphic designer and that shows beautifully  here. I hope this cider starts being more available soon!