quality control

includes all the productive processes

The quality control is the main role of the Control Board of the Protected Designation of Origin ”Cider of Asturias”.  The Council will certify the quality of the ciders that are protected under the seal of the PDO and will establish a framework that includes all the productive processes from the harvesting of the apples to the commercialization of protected ciders. In this way, all press-house or bodega that becomes member of the PDO will be able to certify the quality of its products within the framework established by the regulations of the PDO ”Cider of Asturias” and to state exclusively that those ciders have been elaborated only with Asturian cider apples and following patterns of quality verified by the Control Board. 

CONTROL IN THE ASTURIAS PDO APPLE HARVEST CAMPAIGN

The Designation of Origin apple collection campaign begins approximately in October. It must be borne in mind that a very important factor at the beginning and during the course of the campaign is the ripening of the 22 varieties of apples for PDO, which in turn is influenced by the year’s weather. Then apple picking begins. Throughout the apple picking campaign technical staff from the Regulatory Board check each and every kilo intended for production of PDO Cider of Asturias.

   The elaboration of the PDO "Cider of Asturias” protected cider has to be made exclusively with cider apples varieties included within the following technological blocks: 

Acid:  Durona de Tresali, Blanquina, Limón Montés, Teórica, San Roqueña, Raxao, Xuanina and Fuentes; Sweet:Verdialona and Ernestina ; Acid-Bitter: Regona; Bitter: Clara ; Bitter-Semiacid: Meana; Sweet-Bitter: Coloradona; Semiacid: Carrio, Solarina, De la Riega, Collaos, Perico, Prieta y Perezosa; Semiacid-Bitter: Panquerina

   Varieties are classified according to their acidity and the concentration of phenolic compounds into eight technological groups: sweet, tart-sweet, tart, semi-acid, semi-acid-tart, tart-semi-acid, acid, and acid-tart.

   The Regulatory Board may propose to the Regional Ministry for Rural Affairs and Fisheries of the Principality of Asturias, in accordance with Article 9 of Regulation (EC) 2081/92, the approval of new varieties once appropriate tests and experience have established their ability to produce quality cider similar to the traditional local cider of the area.

   The Regulatory Board will encourage the planting of the main variety, and may set limits on the area of new plantings with other authorized varieties, depending on needs.

   Cider apples for the production of cider protected under the Protected Designation of Origin "Cider of Asturias", should be healthy and be harvested at optimum ripeness, and transported and stored using systems that do not alter the original quality of the fruit.

   Fruit that is not healthy or does not meet the characteristics required to produce ciders representative of the designation, due to climatic or specific production conditions of the year, may not be used to obtain protected cider.

   PRODUCTION: The yields of plantations in production may not exceed 35 tons per hectare per year, or 50 tons in two consecutive years.

   PREPARATION: The techniques used in all phases of cider production, from handling and pressing of the apple to juice extraction and preservation of cider, are aimed at obtaining the highest quality products, maintaining the specific character of the ciders in the production area.

   Modern technology, with sufficient experience, shall be accepted if it does not adversely affect the quality of ciders. This is the case for example of the addition of CO2 from an exclusively endogenous source for the preparation of cider; once obtained in the juice fermentation phase, and collected, purified, compressed, filtered and stored in appropriate tanks, it is added to the "cider" by a saturating machine before bottling.

   Grinding mills that break the fruit pips are prohibited.

   To obtain the juice, traditional practices are to be followed, applied with modern technology oriented towards improving the quality of the cider. The correct pressure is to be applied on previously crushed apples, so that juice yield must not exceed 80%. This limit may be altered only exceptionally in certain campaigns by the Control Board, on its own initiative or at the request of the producers concerned prior to the harvest and after consultation and the necessary checks.

   It is forbidden to obtain apple juice or protected cider by the so-called "continuous" method, in which pressure is exerted by an Archimedes screw advancing against a counterweight.

   The use of refrigeration equipment and decantation, clarification and filtration with approved substances and materials is allowed.

   Also admitted, exclusively for the manufacture of "cider ", not " natural cider", is duly authorized equipment necessary for the CO2 recovery process cited in the regulation of the PDO.

   The manufacturing area of ciders protected by the Protected Designation of Origin "Cider of Asturias" coincides with the areas of production as defined in Article 5 of the Regulations. Therefore, the production and bottling of cider "Cider of Asturias" must be conducted at cider-houses located in the production area of the Principality of Asturias.

Phases of the certification process:

1 – Collection of Samples. Cider cellars will be responsible for activating the process of certification for their products at a time they deem appropriate by means of the mandatory report to the Control Board. Samples are collected by the Regulatory Board Technical Services within the deadlines specified in the approved schedule. No samples will be collected for assessment of products outside the stipulated time frame in order to ensure uniform conditions for these samples to be subjected to the assessment process.

   Confidentiality of samples collected by the Regulatory Board is guaranteed by the following principles:

Unlabeled samples.

  • Sealed samples using numbered seals duly signed by representatives of the cellars, without reference to place of origin on them.
  • Uniform packaging to prevent samples from differentiating themselves from others in the laboratory and before the tasting panel.
  • Generic Regulatory Board corks without reference to the origin of the samples.

   A number of samples is stipulated per batch to be assessed and their distribution will be done in a way that allows each agent involved in the assessment (Control Board, cellar and laboratory) to be in possession of a portion of the samples in order to safeguard the guarantees of those involved in this process.

2 - Physical and chemical analysis

The batches of cider to be assessed are subjected to a rigorous analytical test that is currently carried out by the Cider Department of the Regional Agriculture & Food Research and Development Service of Asturias (Serida), a public institution attached to the Regional Ministry for Rural Affairs and Fisheries.

   Serida is the only official laboratory of the Principality of Asturias and is authorised by EU member states to perform official analysis in the cider sector. For this reason, guarantees of professionalism and thoroughness in carrying out various analytical tests on ciders pending assessment are a clear and proven reality. The Regulation of the Regulatory Board requires ciders under the umbrella of the PDO meet the following requirements in the assessment phase:

  • Volatile acidity less than 2.0 g/l acetic acid
  • Alcohol content above 5% (v/v)
  • Total sulphur dioxide below 150 mg/l

   The boundaries of some of these analytical parameters are below the legal limits of the market. Because they are more restrictive, they guarantee the characteristics and sensory qualities of the protected ciders.

   Ciders that are not in accordance with the analytical limits set forth above will not receive approval due to defects in the rating analysis.

3 - Organoleptic Analysis

Once the analytical phase for the qualification of future ciders under the PDO has been performed, the sensory phase is carried out by expert tasters attached to the tasting panel that works with the Control Board. Training in the discipline of sensory analysis is the responsibility of the technical staff of the Serida Department of Food Technology. The assessment tastings are conducted by tasting panels of five members who cannot have any connection with the samples that are undergoing the qualification process.

   The sensory phase of cider qualification by the Regulatory Board aims to detect defects in the cider as described above in order that ciders that have been assessed are free thereof. Therefore, it could be said that the purpose of this stage is that ciders put on the market under the protection of the PDO are free of defects. This should not be confused with the fact that qualified ciders may merit scores of "outstanding". Subsequent selection of the cider will be done by consumers based on criteria of taste and preferences.

   The sensory ability of candidates for the panel test was carried out according to the strict criteria of the UNE 87003:1995 and EN 87013:1996 standard, which specifies methods for investigation of taste sensitivity or, put another way, the methods for identification and recognition of basic tastes and description of aromas. Thus, the tasters that pass the training phase will be prepared to identify the aromas and flavours that are deemed deficient, reporting on ciders that had any of the defects indicated. Tastings are always performed in wine-tasting glasses for all types of cider covered by the Regulatory Body, since the aim is to taste the products and not their consumption. This system also makes it possible to fine-tune detection of defects that otherwise (particularly flavours) tend not to be perceived in the traditional cider glass.

   Tastings are carried out in a very specific environment consisting of a tasting room or test laboratory that meets the parameters of the UNE 87004:1979 standard, which dictates strict requirements in matters such as lighting, ventilation etc.

   In addition to sensory analysis, products such as natural cider in its "poured from a certain height" variety (‘escanciado’) go through a visual phase to check the attributes of ‘espalme’ (foamng) and ‘aguante’ (hold, or persistence) that are characteristics of our most popular product.

4 - Certification

   Once a cider has been assessed, in both analytical and sensory stages, it is certified by the Regulatory Board as a cider protected under the PDO "Cider of Asturias", maintaining and guaranteeing the origin and characteristics as previously discussed.

   The whole control process ends with the marketing of the ciders, when the Regulatory Board delivers to the cider-houses or cellars the corresponding labels to guarantee the genealogy of the ciders.

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