The Cider Sessions: Spanish Cider in the Finger Lakes

While a trip to Spain is probably out of the question for most of us these days, we can get a taste—or, rather, a sip—of the region right here in the Finger Lakes.
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By Amy Quan

While a trip to Spain is probably out of the question for most of us these days, we can get a taste—or, rather, a sip—of the region right here in the Finger Lakes. 

Known primarily for their Perry—from pears grown and foraged on or near their farm in south Seneca county— Blackduck Cidery in Ovid also produces the only Spanish-style ciders in the region, according to Shannon O’Connor, who founded and farms Blackduck with her husband John Reynolds and their two children. 

Their ¡No pasarán! Sidra, inspired by the ciders of the Asturias and Basque regions in northern Spain, is dry and tart, with, as they say, “a bit of funk.” Technically a still cider, the Sidra does have just a hint of delicate bubbles from the natural fermentation process. 

At the sidrerias in Spain, Shannon told me, the ciders are “aerated” by being poured from well above the glass. I didn’t dare try this at home, but I did try the cider and appreciated its compelling flavor, strong and nuanced at the same time.

A relative of ¡No pasarán!, Woody, sits in oak barrels for nearly a year, adding a complexity to the already intriguing style of these ciders. 

So if you are up for a bit of cider exploration and learning, stop at Blackduck. In addition to the Perry, Sidra and Woody, they offer a wide range of ciders, including a number of blended ciders. One of my favorites, Three Bears Pome, is a refreshing mix of apples, pears and quince. And to go with their ciders, they offer local cracker and cheese plates.

They are currently open Saturdays and Sundays, 12-5. Bring the family, roam the orchard, play with the chickens, sit outside at one of their many picnic tables or inside one of their greenhouses and be prepared to taste some truly unique ciders. 

Postscript: Just after writing this column, the Finger Lakes Cider House at Good Life Farm released their own Sidra Natura, available on tap and in bottles. It’s a bit less still and a bit less tart than Blackduck’s ¡No pasarán!, but I do see a family resemblance. Plus, I’m glad we now have two stops on the Spanish cider in the Finger Lakes tour. 

Amy Quan lives, writes and drinks cider in Covert, NY. When not outside with her husband planting food and trying to restore the old orchard on their farm land, she teaches writing at Ithaca College.

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