The Asturian ice cider that comes from 20,000 organic apple trees

Immersed in the lushness and the stunning Asturian countryside of Oviedo, are the most revered orchards in all of Spain, privileged lands where cider and some of its varieties are born. The culture surrounding this drink is as great as it is ancient, as many historians claim that it arrived even before the Romans. Since then, cider has been a symbol of identity and social cohesion in Asturias, being a special guest at parties, rituals and in everyday life. Thus, in more modern times, creativity and the desire to offer a differential product saw the birth of ice cider, whose pioneers in Spain were the Masaveu Bodegas team, who began to market the “Valverán 20 apples” vintage in 2007.

Difference and elaboration

Ice cider is a gourmet version of traditional cider, because the production technique is much more delicate and demanding, thus the result is a higher quality liquor, while in the mouth, it is pleasant, fresh and sweet.

As for the number of apples needed, for a 70 cl bottle of natural cider you need 1 kilo of apples, while for a 37.5 cl bottle of ice cider you need 2.5 kilos, that is, five times more apples. In fact, the name Valverán 20 apples comes from the minimum quantity necessary to make each of its bottles. Masaveu's team manually selects six varieties of Asturian apples: Raxao, Durona de Tresali, Verdialona, ​​De la Riega, Xuanina and Fuentes. The apples are washed, crushed and pressed. The must obtained is decanted into stainless steel tanks and frozen at -20°C. The ice is then separated from the must and the resulting essence ferments for 8 to 10 months at 10°C. Then, it remains for eight months in tanks on its lees. This slow and meticulous process takes two years from harvest to marketing, compared to the five months required for natural cider. Another difference with traditional cider is the alcohol content, normal cider has between 5 and 6 degrees, while ice cider ranges between 8 and 12 degrees, reaching 10 degrees in Valverán, which brings it closer to the category of liqueur. Traditional cider, which is more acidic and bitter, is usually drunk during a meal, while ice cider, which is sweeter, is usually paired perfectly with low-fat cheeses, foie gras or slightly sweet desserts.

Valverán Estate, OviedoValverán Estate

Respect for the product

Compared to other fermented ciders, Asturian cider is much kinder to the environment, first, because locally grown apples are used, reducing carbon emissions associated with transportation.

In the case of the Valverán farm, there are 40 hectares registered as organic, located in the Sidra de Asturias Protected Designation of Origin, specifically in the El Rebollar Farm in Sariego. There are 20,000 apple trees of different varieties that allow us to make this product. Gardens act as carbon sinks, capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and contributing to climate change mitigation. Being a relatively simple and low-energy production process, especially compared to other alcoholic beverages that require distillation or intensive industrial processes. In Valverán, no part of the block is wasted, since its waste can be excellent organic fertilizers or the basis of other products within the circular economy. José Masaveu, general director of Bodegas Masaveu and founder of Valverán, this project is much more than making apples, it is an innovative project of “love of the land”, which not only revalues ​​the apple, but is also an opportunity to create recognized jobs for locals. According to its director, innovation and patience were the key that makes Valverán today a benchmark for its variety, because like any unique product, it came with a risk. As a result of its efforts, Valverán 20 Manzanas has been recognized as the Best Special Cider in the international competition “World Cider Awards” in 2022 and 2023. In addition, the good reception from consumers led Llagares Valverán to increase its production by 36% in the 2022 vintage, which went on the market in March of this year.

Thus, Asturias is emerging as a mother region of elite products, since in addition to ice cider, its fields are home to prestigious cheese factories such as Rey Silo or the sweet and famousMoscow cookies. For the region it is of great importance to support innovation and gourmet products, as this also increases the attractiveness of the region to attract investment and tourism.