You’re going through your favorite wine store and you don’t know what is/isn’t good. You stumble across this interesting label and decide to give it a try. Share with your favorite person and experience the sounds, smells, and taste of something truly incredible.
This was my journey with Son of Man.
Son Of Man is a cider project started in 2018 by friends Jasper Smith and Guillermo Castaños in Cascade Locks, Oregon. The mission of Son Of Man is create the best Basque style cider in the United States.
Son Of Man Basque style cider is wild. Sagardo (as it’s known in the Basque dialect) is made only once a year. They use heirloom fruit and native yeast—wild strains that naturally occur in the orchard. This insures that every bottle tastes like the place and time it is from. Son Of Man Sagardo is made in the Columbia River Gorge, a rugged and verdant landscape with lush orchards sitting on top of volcanic soil.
What is Basque Style Cider?
It’s an apple cider from the Basque region of Europe. Which is essentially on the outskirts of Spain and France. This region in particular is known for their apple harvest and grow multiple varieties scattered throughout the region. Apple aren’t just a fruit to those in the Basque region, it’s a religion. The region celebrates each year’s harvest with parties that last until the sun comes up in the morning. These celebrations are filled with music, food, and of course enough of last year’s cider to go around.
Basque cider is similar to wine making. This type of cider DOES NOT use any commercial yeast and uses wild yeast directly from it’s environment. Here’s a quick quote from Co-founder Jasper Smith. “Our fermentation is fairly efficient. The alcoholic fermentation is done in 3-4 weeks. However, the malolactic fermentation can take anywhere from another week to another couple months. This is true in both the stainless tanks and the foeder. The best way to control a ferment’s length is through temperature. It’s all a balancing act, though. Slower ferments preserve more aroma compounds (active fermentations are like volcanoes and blow off all sorts of aroma compounds). But they are also more susceptible to spoilage organisms – specifically brettanomyces. Brett competes with saccharomyces, and in faster/stronger ferments. The saccharomyces does its job eating sugars before brett can get a foothold.”
The team from Oregon are taking old school methods and using a new school approach/style. The cider ends up taking you on a journey and the taste is something incredible.
What is a Foeder?
Pronounced food-er, it’s essentially a very large oak fermentation barrel. It usually around 160 gallons of pure chemistry. Apple juice is pressed and placed inside the Foeder and sits inside the barrel until ready. This is a simplified version of the process of course.
The cider is an easy drinking and sociable wine. I had this wine specifically right before I started dinner and shared it with the love of my life.
It paired nicely with the conversation, in addition to the raw oysters we had to accompany.
The wine itself is a thirst quencher with clean, bright acidity, a touch of salinity and a soft tannic structure. It has the aromas of pineapple and tropical fruit. DO NOT forget to shake well to reintegrate the fine lees before serving. Always (and I mean always) pour from as high as you can go. (Without spilling of course)
The cider as a whole was great and perfect for cider lovers, because of the history and process of the Basque region. It’s also perfect for those who may not know much about wine/cider. At around $30 a bottle (Pricing was from Philadelphia PA) it’s on the more expensive side for those entering into the world of wine. HOWEVER, no matter what side of the world of wine you are on, it was worth every penny.
After briefly chatting with Co-founder Jasper, I didn’t know that 2018 was their first vintage. I’d like to wish the team congratulations on an incredible cider that pays respects to the history of Basque, all while being unique to the region of Oregon.