As Portland fawns over funky wines and beers, Bar Casa Vale wine director Jasper Smith is bringing a Spanish beverage to the United States in a new way. Son of Man is the Columbia River Gorge’s first local cider producer that’s exclusively dedicated to sagardo, an untamed, Basque-style hard cider made like wine.
Basque-style sagardo is cider for people who love bretts or natural wine: It’s grassy, funky, and tart, not very bubbly at all, hazy and oh-so-fermented. Interest in Spanish ciders has bubbled across the country, with DC tapas bar Anxo producing its own and Portland importer Ciders of Spain nabbing bottles for wine shops and restaurants. Smith fell in love with his first sagardo at a restaurant, but he couldn’t find Basque cider anywhere until discovering a bottle at a natural wine shop. “It’s somewhere between kombucha, sour beer, and funky white wine, and it’s really delicious,” he says. “It’s unfiltered, unfined, hazy... I think that makes it more satisfying and drinkable.”
Like wine, sagardo is only made once a year, during peak heirloom apple season. It’s made with native yeasts, as well, which gives it the wild taste you’ll often find in natural wines. Smith will begin fermenting his apples in August for its first Oregon vintage, but he decided to kick things off with a Spanish collaboration: Spanish Cidermakers Guillermo Castaños and Guillermo Montiel made Son of Man’s first cider, using Montiel’s fruit from his orchard along the Bidasoa River. The cider serves as an introduction to the unfamiliar, available at a handful of events before things kick off. Throughout the summer, the sagardo will flow at a launch party July 28 in the Cascade Locks cider house, and a pop-up at Bar Casa Vale August 3, as well as an end-of-summer party August 25. The first Oregon vintage will be available in early 2019.
• Son of Man Sagardo [Official]
• All Bar Casa Vale coverage [EPDX]
• An Ancient Spanish Style Of Cider Takes Root In America [NPR]
• Ciders of Spain [Official]