Euskal Sagardoa DO
Astarbe is one of the oldest cider houses in Gipuzkoa (founded in 1563), run by the same family that generation after generation, for nearly five centuries, has been dedicated to making cider and growing apple trees. The history of this family is so entwined with the history of Basque cider production that the two main apple varieties they use in their ciders are the Astarbe variety (after the family surname) and the Mendiola variety (after the name of the farmhouse). To qualify for labelling under this DO, the resulting cider has to be inspected by an independent panel to guarantee its quality.
After harvest, the apples are selected, pressed and left to sit for 24 hours. Fermentation takes place in wooden casks called kupelas, with both the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations taking place. The cider rests and ages in casks, on lees, for two months before it's ready for consumption. The cider is bottled unfiltered.
Long and dry on the palate, there's a balance of acidity and bitterness to start, with fresh fruit and herbal notes leading the palate. This is crisp, refreshing, pleasingly fizzy and slightly wild in nature.
Best served well chilled, in rocks glasses (if you don't happen to own Basque cider-specific glassware) and poured from height in smaller quantities. Enjoy with a variety of grilled sausages, grilled pork chops, burgers, green curry or raw sheep's milk cheeses.