Oregon cider house wins silver in international competition in Spain

An Oregon cider house recently rocked the apple cider world. The son of the manThe upset silver medal victory of Spain’s most acclaimed international cider competition means to the world that Oregon’s cider culture is booming.

After making Basque-style ciders at Cascade Locks since 2018, Jasper Smith has measured his progress by entering his 2020 Son of Man Sagardo in the annual competition. Sagardo Forum competition held November 18-21 in San Sebastián, Spain. Sagardo is the Basque word for “cider”.

Smith’s sagardo won a silver medal in the “natural basque cider” category. Was he surprised to win a medal in his very first competition? “We weren’t expecting a medal. We were just thrilled to get some honest feedback from people who live and breathe Basque cider, ”said Smith.

Smith faced world-class competition in Spain. This year’s Sagardo Forum attracted over 200 participants from nearly 30 countries, with seasoned competitors from Newport, Vermont, To una from Estonia, in search of medals. In the “Natural Basque Cider” category, Smith competed against 25 local Basque sagardo producers.

Defeat all but one autonomously Pays Basque the turf is an impressive feat. “Cider in the Basque Country is more important than water. It’s a pillar of culture and identity that helps make them Basque first and then Spaniards, ”said Smith.

Smith’s silver medal is reminiscent of a wine competition held 41 years ago in Beaune, France. This is where a 1975 Pinot Noir The Eyrie Vineyards South Block Reserve finished second behind the 1959 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny by the smallest of the margins. This unique event put the Willamette Valley on the map. Smith is hoping his silver medal will attract similar attention to the Oregon cider scene.

Smith believes his medal will make it easier for US producers to make ciders naturally, without adding additional ingredients. “For American cider growers in general, I think this bodes well for the direction of our cider culture. Medals at competitions like this help shape the direction of cider cultivation in the United States and, hopefully, will inspire producers to continue making honest and soulful cider, as our counterparts in Europe do. Smith said.

Following the natural approach of Basque cider growers, Smith squeezes Oregon cider apples in the fall, lets the natural yeasts trigger fermentation, then lets the cider age until bottled without sulfites. added the following spring. “Receiving this medal is the icing on the cake after five years of working hard to create a cider that reflects the ones we love so much from the Basque Country,” said Smith.

While Smith said that Spanish cider makers are used to Americans doing well in the “modern” or “flavored” categories in cider competitions, they were surprised that an American had won a higher category. traditional like “natural Basque cider”. According to Smith, “Americans make up the lion’s share of people pumping fancy, sweet, heavy ciders. No one in Spain makes habanero-blueberry sagardo.

That’s why trying a sagardo for the first time can be a bit of a shock if you’re used to drinking the sweet, flavored ciders that you find on grocery store shelves. Instead of what Smith describes as a “sweet alco-pop,” a Son of Man Sagardo is dry and slightly tangy, with a fair amount of tropical fruit, acidity, and a hint of earth.

With only 6% alcohol by volume, the 2020 Son of Man Sagardo is a refreshing and light treat. Smith recommends serving it with funky cheeses, Oysters on the half-shell and the meat grilled rare over a wood fire. It’s also good value at $ 15 for a 750ml. bottle. The striking image of Basajaun, the Basque “wild man of the forest” on the label is a nice bonus.

Boosted by this year’s performance, Smith will return to Forum Sagardo next November to seek a gold medal. “The 2021 vintage is the best cider we have made. I can’t wait to go back to Spain, ”said Smith.

For more information visit sonofman.co or send an email to hello@sonofman.co.

– Michael Alberty writes on wine for The Oregonian / OregonLive. He can be contacted at malberty0@gmail.com. To learn more about its coverage, visit oregonlive.com/vin.