Liliana and Nuno got in touch with me via Instagram quite a few months ago and kindly sent me three of their creations. I opened the Perry during an episode of Adam and my Instagram Live series where we tasted ciders from around the world. It was superb, so I write this with high hopes for this remaining duo.
Portugal is not a country widely synonymous with cider, it’s history and leadership more focused on wine production, but that’s not entirely accurate. Look into the history of certain regions and you start to find the existence of fermented apples and pears dating back centuries. However a resurgence has been brewing (or should I say fermenting) since 2011. Interestingly led by an influx of mainstream producers that sound familiar; Somersby and Strongbow to name a couple. Then followed by larger “craft” producers using concentrate and there are no rules governing cider in Portugal, which means no juice percentage requirements. However, as we are seeing in the uk now with tastes and consumer values changing, smaller makers are starting to have their moment in Portugal. But I don’t really want to say a huge amount more about the history, craft movement or the regions as I’d like to have an interview on here soon with Liliana and Nuno.
So I’ll focus on their brand; Sidrada instead, which they created together back in 2016 to become partners in business as well as life. Nuno’s family have been producing fruit on their farm for three generations. They have 10 hectares of apple orchards and 10 hectares of pear too.
On Liliana’s first visit she was shocked at the amount of waste due to being the wrong size or shape or colour and so they embarked on a journey to make cider. Learning as they went and with some help from Nuno’s father who makes wine for himself. They now produce 5,000 litres per year and are in many outlets across Portugal and some other countries (The Netherlands and France). They started with blends and single varieties and have progressed to Traditional Method. Their current focus being on organic cider, traditional varieties and additional fruits, such as the Plum I have today. They grow varieties including; Royal Gala and Reineta apples as well as “Pera Rocha” or Rock Pear (different to the variety here), sometime also buying in fruit. Their production is all about time, cold pressing and slow fermentation and using methods and packaging that are sustainable.
So let’s get to the two bottles I have today, the Sidra Natural Brut is described as being soft and elegant, perfect for all food pairings and with 0% added sugar. The plum cider is two thirds West plum juice and one third mixed apples. Described as having natural acidity with the perfect red colour and a gentle carbonation.
Sidra Natural Brut (7.3%)
How I served it: Out of the fridge for 30 mins in a white wine glass
Colour: lemon flesh with an extremely slight spritz
On the nose: green apples, elderflower and kiwi. Cantaloupes and limes, full fruit bowl, but its all very subtle. I’m swirling and straining but its very delicate. Cut grass and meadow flowers followed by pear spirit warmth.
In the mouth: really fruit forward, green apples and dessert pears coupled with citrus like acidity, think lemons and limes. There’s a hint of malolactic creamy vanilla, the acidity is smooth and balanced. Finish is juicy but seems dry and has quite a bit of length to it. The palate is stronger than the nose, but it’s definitely very delicate, one for sipping on it’s own as an aperitif, I think many foods would overpower this.
In a nutshell: a light summer evening sipper, best served al fresco
Plum and Apple Cider (6.5%)
How I served it: Out of the fridge for 45 mins in a white wine glass
Colour: cloudy Rosé, peach skin
On the nose: red grape skins, red apples, apricots, plums, nectarines, tonnes of stone fruit. Plum brandy and then cranberries and redcurrants. Essentially all the sharp, astringent red fruits you can think of.
In the mouth: Blimey, that is superb. Apples and plums dance around the palate, acid and zing partner with fruitiness and dryness. The dominate flavour is plum skins, which makes sense as its 2/3 plums, but it doesn’t completely overpower the apple. As a kid I remember biting into those dark purple plums with the red flesh and loving the almost sour drying sensation of the skin in my mouth. This cider captures that beautifully, it’s like a tangfastic sweet sour collision, but the finish has a slight sweetness to release the astringency and lots of cherry fruit. I have to say I think this might just be one of the best “fruit ciders” I’ve tasted, where the addition is the dominant flavour. Where the Brut was delicate, soft and elegant, this is bold, gripping and full of fruit. Marvellous.
In a nutshell: an absolute fruit filled delight, if you see it, buy it.
I have to firstly offer my huge thanks to Liliana and Nuno, for not only sharing their fantastic drinks but also their story and research. If you are ever in their part of Portugal then look them up for an orchard tour. It’s a privilege to have been able to try them and share my notes with you. I really do hope they become available over here at some point. As for the two bottles, if I had to pick a favourite it would be the Plum cider, whether you agree with the concept or name “Fruit ciders” or not (as I touched on a couple of weeks ago), it’s just a fantastic drink. It’s not an apple cider with added plum, nor is it trying to be, this is a co-ferment where the plum is the star and it really shines. If these two are anything to go by then I’m extremely excited for the Portuguese craft cider scene. Another country to add to the world wide cider tour itinerary. Saude!