August 13, 2013


To make a good chillin' wine, it takes fruity grapes. Or apples. What I prefer - by all means - sometimes. Especially the cidre made at Bordatto, to me is real state-of-the-art. Its richness in colour and taste, the drinkability and the refreshment a bottle of the Bordatto cidre brut brings, is remarkable. Pascale and Bixintxo Aphaules affectionate reception at their cidrerie placed at Jaxu even makes the feeling stronger: This is a place to be!

As usual: The romans stand accused

Viniculture in the basque region started with the romans - just like in the most wine producing landscapes in europe. Since then, wine established itself as the drink of the wealthy. A basque quote says, that "It is better to drink bad wine, than good cidre", explains Bixintxo, showing an overwhelming smile on his suntanned face. A smile that wasn't there from the very beginning of Bordatto. It was quite difficult for the young couple to make a living. He and his wife Pascale only had access to half an hectare of grapevine - too less to make a living. Irouleguy, the region they live in, is quite well known for its wine, but not for cidre. But Bixintxo remembers the roman cidre-tradition, red about it and started looking for apples. So they discovered apple trees. Lots of apple trees. In the end they started their Cidrerie in 2001, today they are owning 4 hectares of apple trees. But to cover the demand, they buy apples from farmers in the neighborhood. With the same quality standard, they put to themselves. All biological, of course.

No windfall 

Before harvesting, at Domaine Bordatto all windfall will be collected. Bixintxo wants no bad apple at all, because this disturb the clear fruity taste of his cider. When the ground around the trees is all clean, the harvesting starts. Only ripe and undamaged apples will be collected. In the production of cidre, hygiene is even more important than in winemaking, Bixintxo mentions. After harvesting, the apples will be washed and grated. This applemash goes into a modern hydraulic press. Very carefully, indeed. The rest of the pressing, called press cookie, is delivered to farmers in the village. They use it as animal feed. The cow dung is returned to Bordatto, where it is used as fertilizer for the apple-trees. A closed production circle!
The fermentation of the apple juice starts spontaneous with the wild yeasts from the appleparing or the yeasts existing in his cellar. This today is the state-of-the-art procedure in ambitious winemaking. And of course: Bixintxo regards himself as a winemaker, perhaps even more. To make wine out of apples is a lot more complicated than to make it out of grapes. So here we have - vignerons cidriers!

Make it slow

Another keyword in Bixintxo's work is slow fermentation. To bring the whole taste of the apples into the cidre it takes time. But the yeast are very precious. So to give time enough time to do their work, Bixintxo controlls the right temperature. Which means, he cools down the fermentating juice. If he wouldn't do that, the whole fermentation just takes 3 days. Which would be horrible for the taste. In stretching the fermentation over 3 months, he brings the taste of the terroir and the different apples into his cidre. Because this is another very special way at Bordatto: Every apple variety is fully developed on its own. Bixintxo assembles the different cidres after the complete fermentation of every single apple-charge. This is quite unusual, but mentions Bixintxo, brings quality and constancy into his cidre, the differences in the vintages can be balanced.

Secret in a bottle

In the end, there 12 different types of apple together in one bottle. And there a different types of cidre as well. The cidre brut, made out of 15(!) different apple varieties is a refreshing aperitif, the cidre demi-sec accompanies a whole meal from the first course to the desert. And the cidre brut pur-jus starts his fermentation in barrique-casks. as a result, this is a mouth filling, extremly rich cider, which in taste and richness is not that far from a fine champagne. All of the Bordatto cidres are made to last over two to three years. Providing that the cellar temperature does not pass over 16° Celsius. And there is another tip for all hobby cooks: The apple vinegar made at Bordatto is quite delicate. It brings a fruity element in every dish! 

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