Cidre in Normandy: Tasting notes

I left Normandy with a heavy heart. There are places that move us more than others. And, Normandy with its rich culture and amazing food and cidre is one of those places. I wish I have had more time to visit more cidre makers and try more cidre. Well, at least there is some cidre left to try when I decide to visit this beautiful region again.

I know that many were waiting to read my tasting notes for all the cidre I’ve tried in Normandy. So without further ado, I’ll share with you the list of sampled cidres along with tasting notes and my thoughts about them. Just a brief note, the list reflects the order in which I sampled each cidre.

Le Cidre de Grévilly Cidre Bouche Demi-sec  (ABV 4%; 3.5 EUR per 750 mL in a corner shop in Etretat)

img_0899Le Cidre de Grévilly was the first cidre tried on my journey to Normandy. This cidre producer is based close to Bayeux, and their cidre is made from organic cidre apples. Interestingly, a woman stands behind this cidre, Brigitte Graud. Appearance: lightly cloudy, pale amber with an orange hue, high carbonation, white foam. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong. Notes of caramel, peach and orange. Taste: lightly sweet of caramel with a low to acidity, blood orange, lemon, medium astringency with a touch of grapefruit peel-like bitterness. Overall: very refreshing and very drinkable due to citrusy notes, the level of sweetness is just right. Clear taste. Couldn’t detect any apple taste here but I loved the refreshing acidity and citrusy notes. I liked it although the taste finished a tiny bit too quickly. I could have more. 4.5/6

Domaine des Hauts Vents Cidre Fermier (ABV 5%; approx. 3.9 EUR per 750 mL in a deli specialised in Norman products Gribouille in Honfleur)

img_0968Domaine des Hauts Vents is made by the Caboulet family based in Saint-Ouen-Du-Tilleul. This particular cidre was produced exclusively for Gribouille. This is the store, where I purchased it. Appearance: clear, amber with orange hues, high carbonation, white foam. Medium body. Aroma: weak but rich with notes of burnt caramel, peat, apricot and a hint of sulphur. Taste: lightly sweet of caramel with a low acidity of juicy orange. Burnt caramel, smokiness, hints of funk, low astringency, a touch of apple-seed like bitterness. Overall: Despite the rather weak nose in terms of strength, the scent was rich and interesting. Taste wise It reminded me a bit of liquor such as Benedictine as the flavours were strong, intense and sort of concentrated but without the sweetness typical for most liquors. A very drinkable, rich and interesting cidre that I’d like to have again. 4.5/6

EARL Ferme des Parquets Cidre (ABV 4.5%; approx. 3.9 EUR per 750 mL in a deli specialised in Norman products Gribouille in Honfleur)

img_1299EARL Ferme des Parquets is based in Fourneville and consists of 4 family members Gisèle, Jacques, Arnaud & Julien. They have 2000 trees including 70 different cidre apple varieties. Appearance: lightly cloudy, golden with a light orange hue. High carbonation, white foam. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong, strong sulphur, hints of apricots. Taste: sweet with a low acidity of orange. Notes of sulphur, funk, low astringency, apricots and vanilla. Overall: definitely not a cidre for everyone. Usually, I’m quite resistant to notes of funk and sulphur but the intensity of off -notes in this cidre was just too overwhelming even for me.  Notes of funk and sulphur cover other notes making a disservice to this drop. I loved the taste of orange but missed again any apple flavour. 3.5/6

Cave La Petit Ranchy Cidre Millésime 2017 (ABV 5%; approx. 10.50 EUR per 750 mL in a restaurant La Calle in Asnelles)

img_0982All I could find about this cidre producer is that they sit in Ranchy. Bruno Voidye is responsible for cidermaking here. Appearance: lightly cloudy, golden with a white foam that reduces to a ring, high carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong, hints of sulphur, caramel and orange. Taste: lightly sweet with a low acidity of orange and lemon. Notes of chocolate. Hints of sulphur. Medium astringency. Overall: I liked the unusual and pleasant combination of orange, lemon and chocolate. But the taste finished too quickly leaving me unsatisfied. Not bad but I prefered the previously tasted cidres. 4/6

La Ferme de Billy Cidre Brut (ABV 5%; a sample provided by Guillaume from La Ferme de Billy)

img_1084As mentioned in my previous posts, La Ferme de Billy is based just 5km from Caen in Riots. They work with 17 cidre apple varieties coming from their own orchards. Appearance: clear, deep orange with a white foam that reduces to a ring, high carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong, hints of sulphur and funk, oranges, leather and beeswax. Taste: lightly sweet of caramel with a low acidity of orange and lemon. Notes of chocolate, smokiness, a taste of alcohol. Low astringency. Overall: Notes of sulphur and funk are there rather contributing to the taste than disturbing. The palate was complex and intensive with a luscious combination of notes of orange and chocolate. Good level of acidity made the Brut very refreshing and food friendly. I’d love to have it again. 4.5/6

Cidrerie Daufresne Cidre Brut (ABV 5%; approx. 3.9 EUR per 750 mL in a deli specialised in Norman products Gribouille in Honfleur)

img_1110-1

Cidrerie Daufresne located in Ouilly-Le-Vicomte was established in the 1960ties by Philippe Daufresne. When Phillipe retired, Ghislaine Davy (another woman!) took over the cidrerie. Their Brut is a blend of 80% bittersweet apple varieties (Bisquet, Noêl des Champs and Domaine) and 20% sharp apples (Rambault). In 2017, this cidre picked up Gold at the Concours Général in Paris. Appearance: clear, deep amber with an orange hue. White foam, high carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: strong, cidre apples, baked apples, hints of honey and vanilla. Taste: moderately sweet of caramel with a low acidity of orange and lemon. Notes of dark bitter chocolate, vanilla, baked apples. Medium astringency. Overall: I can see why it picked up Gold in this prestigious competition. It’s extremely drinkable with many layers of delicious flavours that you uncover with each sip. The combination of notes of dark bitter chocolate with vanilla, baked apples and oranges is simply moreish. Imagine combining all your all-time favourite desserts in one treat. Also, the finish is unforgettable. Clear notes and rich palate make it a delicious cidre suitable for everyone. 5/6 Online from Calyce Cider – they ship to Germany, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Italy and Portugal!

EARL Ferme des Parquets Cidre (ABV 4.5%; approx. 3.9 EUR per 750 mL in a deli specialised in Norman products Gribouille in Honfleur)

img_1115Just realised that this is the second cidre from EARL Ferme desParquets that I’ve tried on this journey. That explains quite a lot. See below. Appearance: lightly cloudy, pale amber with a light orange hue, high carbonation, white foam. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong, dominating notes of funk and sulphur. Hints of fresh apples. Taste: sweet with a low acidity of orange. Notes of sulphur, funk, high astringency. Overall: I guess this cider maker is into strong notes of funk and sulphur. Again, not a cidre for everyone. Despite some pleasant notes on the palate, notes of funk and sulphur are too strong to let you appreciate other notes. Also, it finishes very quickly. Quite disappointing. I wouldn’t buy it again. 2.5/6

Domaine Dupont (tasting in their store in La Vigannerie, Victot-Pontfol)

img_1161I visited Domaine Dupont after already sampling 7 different ciders from various local producers plus those cidres I’ve sampled at various cider makers. My expectations were, therefore, very high. In Domaine Dupont’s store, a very friendly salesperson properly introduced each cidre before I could get a taste. I’ve sampled all available ciders, including Cidre Bouché, Organic Cider, Cidre Réserve, Cuvée Colette, Cidre Triple (aged in calvados casks) and Give (an ice cider). And, it may come as a shock to you, but ciders from Domaine Dupont didn’t impress me much compared to other Norman cidre producers I’ve already tried on this trip. Previously tasted cidres had intensive, strong, powerful flavours, making cidre from Dupont taste somehow diluted. Different, yet less intense in terms of flavour. Some of them even tasted watery. I’d never thought that I would say this but I was disappointed with their products although they were presented in a great way by the salespeople. In addition, I think it’s great that Domaine Dupont is trying to differentiate themselves from others by introducing novel products like cidre aged in Calvados barrels or Calvados aged in Islay Scotch Whisky barrels. But a Calvados spray for baking? I’m not sure if that’s the right direction. Cooking with Calvados is a great way to add flavours to your dish, but spraying a cake with Calvados? I’m not buying it. The store was full at the time of my visit although it was only 11am and I really didn’t understand the hype. I’m sorry.

Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Demi-sec 2017 (ABV 4.5%; 3.6 EUR per 750 mL in their store)

img_1200Manoir de Grandout is run by Stephané and Lucile Grandval. Interestingly, the buildings on the farm stretch back to the 16th century. On the farm, I’ve tested their Fermier and Demi-sec Recolté 2017 and decided to purchase the latter. Appearance: clear, amber with a vivid orange hue, high carbonation, white foam. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong, dominating notes of funk and sulphur. Hints of fresh apples and polyfloral honey. Taste: moderately sweet of polyfloral honey with a low acidity of orange and lemon. Notes of sulphur, funk, apple skins, freshly pressed apple juice, medium to high astringency. Overall: Manoir de Grandouet’s Demi-sec had a good complexity, many interesting and pleasant notes that made it taste refreshing and paired excellently with Norman cheeses and cidre marmalade. And, finally, I could taste the fruit that it was made from, the apples. Despite notes of funk and sulphur, mainly on the nose, I enjoyed having this cidre. I would buy more. 4.5/6 Lucile provided me with samples of their Poire and Cidre made with the champagne method, which wasn’t officially released yet. I brought both bottles back to Berlin. Reviews coming soon.

Domaine Lesuffleur (tasting in their premises in La Folletière-Abenon)

img_1213

The tasting of the cidre range (Friardel 2016, Missus 2016, La Folletière 2016, La Follètiere 2015, Pyrrhus 2016) created by Benoit turned my world upside down. It was difficult to pick a favourite! But it is the Pyrrhus 2016 that won my heart. Now I regret that I didn’t make proper tasting notes at the time but I’ll try to explain this phenomenon to you anyway. As mentioned already a couple of times, Benoit treats cider like wine by creating his blends from ciders made from single varieties. And, trust me, you can tell the difference in terms of taste. His cidres are powerful with intensive flavour, yet smooth and gentle. Hints of sulphur or funk if present, contribute to the complexity, but never disturb. The acidity makes his cider taste refreshing. And, you can actually taste the fruit it was made from. Fresh apple flesh, fresh apple skins or a touch of apple seeds. All in perfect balance with a great length and depth. Benoit has its own unique style and I’m sure that very soon he will be regarded as one of the best cidre makers worldwide. In addition, I’m pretty confident that if Susanna Forbes have had arrived earlier to Cider World 2018 in Frankfurt and managed to take a taste of Benoit’s cidres she would have included Domaine Lesuffleur in her recently launched book The Cider Insider (btw, a great read if you’re asking me). Benoit passed me a bottle of his La Folletière 2016, which I brought back to Berlin. If I didn’t convince you now, perhaps my upcoming review will.

Ferme de Félicité Cidre Extra Brut (ABV 5.5%?; 3.5 EUR per 750 mL in their store)

img_1227Ferme de Félicité is made up by Claire and Sebastien Aumond. They work with 17 different apple varieties. Appearance: cloudy, pale amber. White foam, high carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: moderate aroma, hints of sulphur, funk,  cidre apples and oranges.  Taste: lightly sweet of caramel with a low acidity of orange. Notes of funk, cider apples and low burnt caramel like bitterness. Low astringency. Overall: Maybe it’s Benoit’s impact but I thought that their Extra Brut tasted like many other Norman ciders I’ve tried on my journey. And although I liked it the moment I bought it, I had to admit that it’s not an impressive offering. It doesn’t stand out although it’s very drinkable. 4/6

La Ferme de Billy Cidre Fruitè (ABV 4.5%; a sample provided by Guillaume from La Ferme de Billy)

img_1300Cidre Fruitè is a blend of 16 different apple varieties.  Appearance: clear, pale amber with an orange hue.  White foam. High carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong, hints of funk, burnt caramel and caramelised apple. Taste: moderately sweet of caramel with a low acidity of orange and lemon. Smokiness, a touch of burnt caramel, caramelised apple. Low astringency. Overall: Guys from La Ferme de Billy created a really nice and complex cidre with a rich palate, good structure, and a longlasting and memorable finish. It will pair well with various types of food but you can drink it also on your own. A nice one. 4.5/6

La Ferme de Billy Cidre Fraicheur (ABV 4.5%; a sample provided by Guillaume from La Ferme de Billy)

img_1254This is the last cidre from La Ferme de Billy I’ve tried during this journey. Appearance: lightly cloudy, pale amber with an orange hue. White foam. High carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: rather weak, hints of funk and sulphur, cidre apples. Fruity. Taste: moderately sweet of caramel with a low acidity of lemon and orange. Caramelised apple, smokiness, fresh apple flesh, apple skin, hints of funk and sulphur. Low and gentle astringency. Overall: Another tasty cidre from La Ferme de Billy. This time a bit lighter and fruitier with delicious notes of fresh apples. Good length and structure. Personally, I thought it was a bit too sweet for me but for those with a sweeter tooth, it will be a lovely and refreshing drop. The scent could be stronger. Their Fruitè was my favourite. 4.5/6

Domaine de la Galotiere Cidre Fermiere Brut (ABV 4.5%; 3.20 EUR in their store)

img_1265Domaine de la Galotiere grow over 50 apple varieties in their organic orchards. I wonder how many apple varieties were used to make their Cidre Fermiere Bruit. Appearance: lightly cloudy, pale amber with an orange hue. White foam. High carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong, hints of funk, caramel and smokiness. Taste: moderately sweet of caramel with a low acidity of lemon. Smokiness, fresh green and red apples, apple skin, light bitterness. Moderate astringency. Overall: Cidre Fermiere Brut has a good structure and length. Very refreshing due to notes of fresh apples and apple skins. I enjoyed it but in a way, it was still similar to cidres I’ve tried before. Nevertheless, I would buy it again. 4.5/6

Overall, I have to admit that I haven’t tried a really bad cidre during my visit to Normandy. But with such fantastic cidre apples like those that grow in Normandy, I would dare to say that everyone can make a pretty decent cider. Some of the cidres tasted better, had a good length and structure, whereas some were just too funky or finished too fast. In a way, they were all very similar to each other. Only cidres from Domaine Lesuffler stood out and had a unique style. But it should not be a surprise if most cider producers from Normandy mix approx. 80% bittersweet apples and 20% sharp apples with each other, press, ferment and bottle. Therefore, I’d wish more variety in terms of taste for cidre from Normandy. An example of Domaine Lesuffler showed that it can be done. So why not just try it?

Cidreries in Normandy: visit recap

In the last blog post, I promised you to recap my visits to cider producers in Normandy.

img_1093I thought that 4 days will be more than enough to explore this part of France, but once I reached Normandy I’ve realised that I haven’t planned enough time for both sightseeing and visits to the countless cidreries! The signs inviting visitors to come in and try either cidre, calvados, pommeau, apple vinegar, marmalade or apple juice were literally every kilometre not only on the route du cidre but also outside the cider trail around Fecamp, Etretat, Honfleur, Bayeux, Falaise or the D-Day landing beaches. Cidre is made and sold everywhere in Normandy. Another question is who drinks it. Anyway, with the only 4-day itinerary, I had an opportunity to explore only a tiny bit of Normandy and its cidre. Meaning, I had to restrict myself to only a few cidermakers.

img_0964Ferme de Félicité was the first cider maker I have visited during my journey. They are based near the village of Longues-sur-Mer, close to the German gun batteries from the World War II. At the time of my visit, they were busy pressing apples so I couldn’t see their premises. But I had a brief chat with Claire, who told me more about the cidrerie. At Ferme de Félicité, they work with around 17 apple varieties that are used to make cidre, calvados, pommeau and liqueur de Calvados Félicité, a young calvados macerated with oranges, sugar and coffee beans. In terms of cidre, they produce doux (sweet), demi-sec (semi-sweet), brut (dry) and Cuvée Jardin Bosquain, which is extra dry. The latter appealed the most to my taste buds (I’ll post my tasting notes soon, so watch this space!). Interestingly, you may find their products in shops and restaurants only within the range of 10 km, nowhere else. Since they create approx. 25k bottles annually, they have no interest in distributing their products to further areas.

img_1040Even before coming to Normandy, Olivier from La Ferme de Billy reached out to me and invited to visit their premises and apple orchards. As either Olivier or myself had no service on the phone (that seems to be quite normal in Normandy), we didn’t manage to meet up, but Guillaume, Olivier’s brother was there to meet me. La Ferme de Billy was established in 1651 by the first owner Jacques de Billy. Today, La Ferme de Billy apart from products made from apples, offer brunch menus served with their cidre in a trendy, modern setting and organise art exhibition. The perfect environment for drinking cidre and socializing. Also, they have a very inviting outdoor resting area in the backyard. img_1018If you walk further and pass a little forest, you’ll discover an idyllic place, a Roman 13th-century chapel surrounded by old cidre apple trees. I’ve tried a few apples that fell down. They were much smaller than apples I’ve seen before. All tasted apple varieties were luscious! Back to la Ferme de Billy, for their product range comprising of three kinds of cidre fruité, brut and fraîcheur (tasting notes coming soon) along with ice cider (which is divine!), calvados, pommeau, apple juice and apple vinegar, they use 16 apple varieties. img_0995Recently, they acquired orchards nearby and plan to build a cider house in around two years. I admired their modern thinking outside the box and attempts to make people understand that cidre pairs well with food and with this trying to change the bad image of cidre in Normandy. If I had more time I would definitely have had a brunch there and some cidre as the food looked very inviting. But I had to hit the road as my agenda was quite full.

img_1065Next cidrerie on my journey was Domaine de La Galotière, located in a beautiful small valley in the southern part of Pays d’Auge close to Camembert. They grow approx. 50 different cidre apple varieties and since 1997 have organic certification. Jean-Luc Olivier is in charge of orchards and cidermaking but at the time of my visit, he was busy picking apples. Their product range covers cidre, ice cider (too sweet for my liking), poirè, calvados, pommeau, vinegar and apple juice. I’ll share my tasting notes on their cidre brut later.

img_1061img_1060

img_1124Pierre Huet is based on the route du cidre in Cambremer and is actually more famous for making calvados than cidre or poirè. The farm has a traditional look with sheeps wandering the apple orchards and displayed very old barrels that were once used to age calvados. I was hoping to take part in the guided tour that was supposed to start at 11am but I was told that it was only in French and required a minimum of 4 participants. Since there were only two of us, we left empty-handed and headed further down the cider trail to Domaine Dupont.

 

Domaine Dupont (La Vigannerie, Victot-Pontfol)

img_1129I believe this cider producer doesn’t require any introduction as their cidre is one of the most widely distributed Norman cidre worldwide. The farm is surrounded by apple orchards and when you drive to the front part of their premises it feels like entering a French manoir. They don’t offer guided tours buy you’re welcome to walk around and visit their distillery, surrounding orchards and cellars with different sizes of oak barrels filled with calvados. As mentioned in my previous post, when I went to their store it was really packed. It was quite shocking compared to other visited cidreries, as most of the time, I was the only guest. Cider wise, Dupont has a line up of six different ciders, including Cidre Bouché, Organic Cider, Cidre Triple, Cidre Réserve, Cuvée Colette and Give, an ice cider. With the exception of ice cider, champagne yeast is added after bottling to make cidre sparkling. At the Dupont’s store, I discovered rather unusual products such as calvados spray used for baking (!) and calvados aged in Islay single malt Scotch whisky cask. I’ve tried their ciders and the just mentioned calvados aged in Islay single malt Scotch whisky and will share my thoughts with you about them in the next blog post.

img_1164When you arrive at Manoir de Grandouet, you have a feeling that you turned back in time as some of the Norman buildings on the farm date back to 16th century. Manoir de Grandouet is set in an incredibly picturesque scenery. Pictures don’t do it justice. The views are simply amazing! Outside you can find an ancient apple press and a table where you can have a brunch. Now in its third generation of family ownership, the Grandval family makes cidre using 20 different apple varieties coming from 28 ha orchards. Lucille was there to welcome me and gave me a tour of the facility and finished with a tasting of their cidre, calvados and pommeau. They were in the middle of apple pressing so it was quite exciting to see how it’s done here. The Grandvals use a pneumatic press. Once pressed, the juice goes to tanks for fermentation with wild yeast at low temperature. After fermentation, cidre is bottled with a tiny amount of white wine yeast. For calvados production, cidre is moved to old oak barrels. Some of them date back even to 1792! If I had to choose only one cidrerie to visit along the route du cidre, Manoir de Grandouet would be the place to go.

img_1213I first met Benoit at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt when he was presenting his cidre. Already then, I was very much impressed with the quality and outstanding taste of his cidre. Needless to say that Benoit’s cidre line up was the highlight of this event in terms of taste. Remembering Benoit’s cidre and his passion when he was showing me pictures of his apple orchards, I knew I had to pay him a visit when being in Normandy. Domaine Lesuffleur is not open to visitors. But Benoit was kind enough to show me his orchards and arranged for a tasting of his cidre and eau-de-vie. Benoit comes from Normandy but over the week he lives in Paris, where he works as a wine retailer selling wine to restaurants and shops. Over the weekend, he dedicates his time solely to cidre.

Back to my visit, we’ve started with the tasting of Benoit’s ciders, Friardel 2016, Missus 2016, La Folletiere 2016, La Folletiere 2015, Pyrrhus 2016 and some experimental ciders. More about the taste in the next blog post. After the tasting, we drove to visit his orchards before the sun goes down. Benoit’s apples are hand-picked and he knows absolutely everything about apple varieties in his orchards and about the soil. I’ve tasted each apple variety and it was fascinating to see the differences in terms of taste. What intrigued me most was that the same apple variety would taste differently when grown on different soil, in a different orchard. I guess that was the moment when I finally understood the meaning of ‘terroir’.

Another surprise was that apples from Benoit’ orchards were still not ripe. Although at most cideries that I visited earlier that were located closer to the coast on the route du cidre, the harvest was in full swing, here further east in La Folletière the apples were still not ready to be picked and required a few further weeks for ripening. Meaning that the climate is different in various parts of Normandy.

During the visit at Benoit’s place and the tasting, I have realised that previously visited cider makers used a known amount of bitter, sweet, bittersweet and sharp apple varieties and fermented them all together and subsequently bottled. Benoit was the only cider maker out of those I have visited who would ferment each variety separately and then decide on the blend after tasting. The visit to Benoit’s place opened my eyes. His cider is unique cause he is a rare species treating cidre like precious wine. Chapeau bas, Benoit.

Watch this space for my tasting notes! Coming soon!

Is Normandy really the land of cider?


Normandie. Terre de cidre. Normandy. The land of cider. This is a description for Normandy, which I found on a 3-pack bottle carrier for transport of purchased cider. But my recent visit to Normandy didn’t exactly give me the impression I’m in the land of cidre. I felt it was more of a wishful thinking of local cidre producers than the actual status quo. Here is why.

When you are driving west from Paris and heading to Normandy you can easily say that you are getting closer to Normandy when you start passing apple orchards with huge apple trees and subsequently multiple road signs saying cidre, calvados, pommeau or jus de pomme. Trust me, I could barely contain my excitement and each time considered making a detour. But I continued driving as I also wanted to learn more about Normandy and see the most beautiful natural places and important historic places of this French region. I have planned to visit cider makers a bit later on my trip.

After seeing on the way to Fecamp and then to Etretat and Honfleur countless apple orchards and noticing that stores offer local products from Normandy such as cheese, marmalade and cidre created by producers I have never heard of, I was initially convinced I’m in a cider paradise. The first moment of doubt occurred in the beautiful port city of Honfleur. I went to a restaurant in the port area wanting to try local seafood and cidre, of course. Firstly, I looked at the wine list listing red and white wines along with provided information about the wine type, winemaker and vintage. Secondly, I started looking for a cidre list. But all I could find was one anonymous cidre, which you could order either by the glass, pitcher or bottle. Just as if it was a table wine. Nothing about the producer or the year it was created. I’ve looked around and noticed that everyone was drinking either wine or beer. Nobody was having cidre! It needs to be said that most of the restaurant guests were tourists as I couldn’t hear anyone speaking French. After I left the restaurant, I’ve discovered a cider bar nearby and breathed a sigh of relief. But although it was barely 10 pm, the place was already closed so I couldn’t evaluate their cidre selection.

On the next day, after visiting D-Day beaches, where the Allies landed in 1944, I went to a sort of a fine dining restaurant close to Arromanches-les-Bains hoping to see a cidre list this time. Again, I found a long wine list providing detailed information about winemakers and vintage. And, one single cidre. In contrast to the restaurant in Honfleur, I could find information about the cider maker producing the cidre and the year it was created. Do I have to mention that I was the only one drinking cidre in the whole restaurant occupied by only French guests this time?

Then I visited a small town of Beuvron-en-Auge, located on the cider trail, which is advertised as a cider town. The weather was sunny, everyone was sitting outside sipping beer. I haven’t seen a single person drinking cidre.

I was deeply confused with what I saw. On the one hand, there are plenty of cider producers around and lots of shops offering cidre. On the other hand, I could barely see anyone drinking cidre here. Could that be that people from a region with such a rich and long cidre tradition and countless apple orchards bearing excellent fruit, simply perfect for cider, do not appreciate their heritage? When I was already on the cider trail I shared my observations with cider producers such as Guillaume of La Ferme de Billy, Lucile of Manoir de Grandouet and Benoit of Domaine Lesuffleur. Each of them had similar thoughts and pointed out that cidre is, unfortunately, still considered in Normandy the drink of the poor. So how to change it?

  • First of all, cider pairs very well with food. With Normandy cuisine such as seafood or cheese particularly well. So one approach is to educate restaurant owners that there are plenty of local Normandy dishes that pair greatly with cidre. Flavours of cidre can add complexity to the dish and increase the richness of the dining experience. This is for the benefit of the restaurant owner. Moreover, there are more types of cidre than just brut (dry), demi-sec (semi-sweet) and doux (sweet). Normandy cidre differs not only in terms of the level of sweetness but also the level of tannins and acidity. Furthermore, cidre can have strong wild notes or can have a clean taste with no funk. There is no one Normandy cidre! Example: La Ferme de Billy, based in Rots, literally 5km from Caen, seems to be one of the cidre makers trying to educate and change the image of cidre. At their cider house, they offer brunch with hot and cold dishes and educate their guests on how to pair cidre with served dishes to maximise the dining experience.
  • Cider is made like wine and should be treated like wine. So providing information about the production method, apple varieties and taste profile can create a unique story around the cidre. Additionally, I am encouraging Normandy cidre producers to make cidre like wine instead of fermenting all apple varieties together. Create a Normandy cuvée. Try fermenting apple juice obtained from different apple varieties in separate tanks and blend only after tasting creating cidre with different taste profile suitable for various palates and dishes. Example: This is how Benoit from Domaine Lesuffleur makes his cidre. Instead of pressing and fermenting all apple varieties in one tank, he ferments the juice obtained from each apple variety in a separate tank and subsequently blends them creating sophisticated and absolutely delicious cidre, the champagne of apples. Trust me, taste-wise cidre made by Benoit has nothing in common with the most locally produced cidre. But I have to warn you. Once you try a cidre from Benoit, there is no way back to a regular Normandy cidre.
  • What I’m going to propose may sound controversial but I think that the price for a bottle of Normandy cidre is too low. With the current retail price for a 75cl bottle in a range of 3.5-4.5 EUR, increasing the price could be a smart business strategy. This is a psychological thing. People simply more appreciate products that have a higher price tag. Example: At Domaine Dupont, a 37.5cl bottle of a cider aged in calvados barrels cost at approx. 6 EUR. Despite relatively high prices for their ciders and other products, their store was packed at the time of my visit and the salespersons were very busy barely finding time to serve you (although they were really trying hard).

Summarizing, I thought I came to a land of absolutely amazing cidre tradition dating back to the 8th century but as it turned out cidre is still underestimated and treated here as a beverage that is much less worth than wine or beer. Although cidre is sold practically everywhere, it’s not treated the way it deserves. However, changes are slowly coming. The new generation of cidre producers is trying to change the image of cidre using different approaches in terms of making cidre but also serving or pricing cidre. I may only wish that more cidre makers will join the cider revolution in France. Viva la révolution du cidre!

In the next blog post, I will share with you the recap of my visits to cider producers on the route du cidre in Normandy. So stay tuned!img_1086

Dupont Cidre Bouché 2015

Cidre Bouché is the most widely available cider from one the finest cider makers in Normandy, France, Domaine Dupont. Bouché is produced using the traditional method of the Pays d’Auge. Manually picked apples are pressed, subsequently, the juice is fermented with wild yeast. Fermentation is slowed down by multiple racking to retain flavour and sweetness. The last step is bottling, which occurs between March and April.

This is my 2nd cider from Dupont reviewed here. I have previously sampled the Organic Bouché Brut 2011.
Company: 
CALVADOS DUPONT Domaine Familial Louis Dupont 
Place of Origin: Victot-Pontfol, Normandy, France
Apples: 70% of bittersweet apples, 30% of acid apples
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 330ml clear bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or pint glass

Appearance: pours an almost clear golden with orange hues. Slightly sparkling. Light to medium body. Some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose exhibits notes of red apple, yellow crisp fresh apple, fermented apples, red berries and oak. Underlying notes of caramel with funk round up the aroma.

Taste: the first sip has low to medium sweetness and low lemon-like acidity, followed by a very light watery taste, a smoky note (but only in the beginning), caramel, light burnt caramel, baked apples, and a touch of funk. The finish is dry with a lingering note of a crisp red apple (like biting into a fresh apple), low astringent taste and a touch of burnt caramel.

Overall: Dupont’s Bouche has an extreme depth and length of flavours including notes of funk and sulphur that at higher concentrations could be considered as disturbing. It’s like with perfume, high concentrations of specific compounds are unpleasant but low concentrations produce a glorious scent. This is exactly what is happening here. Hints of funk and sulphur balance on the edge adding complexity to apple, caramel and lemon notes, showing craftsmanship of cider maker. And, make this cider simply irresistible.  A cidre to fell in love with. 5/6

Availability: locally in Berlin in the Muted Horn. In Germany online through Vivino and Wine and Waters. Locally in Amsterdam and online in the Netherlands from Appels en Peren. In Belgium online from Bieres Gourmet. In Norway from Vinmonopolet. In Switzerland from Globus. Online in Denmark from Holm Cider and Godevine. In France online from Made in Calvados.

Price: bought locally in the Muted Horn in Berlin at 4.8 EUR.

8 Sparkling Ciders for New Year‘s Eve

Last year I chose to celebrate New Year’s Eve with cider instead of champagne or sparkling white wine. It turned out to be a splendid idea as I didn’t have to force myself to drink a super dry champagne though I still had the pop. If champagne is not your drink of choice, as it is in my case, I am encouraging you to raise a glass of cider instead on New Year’s Eve. To help you with it I have selected the most amazing and delicious sparkling ciders out of those reviewed over the entire 2017.

I have tried many ciders suitable for this occasion, but I have compiled only 8 of picks that you pop open a bottle. It’s New Year’s Eve after all. You’d be surprised that not all of them are French.

Each cider is listed first by cidermaker, then by label name & year if applicable, region & country, and apple variety if known. 

Joachim Döhne, Apfelschaumwein Brut 2013 – Hesse, Germany – a cuvée of Boskoop, Jakob img_6525-1Lebel, Schöner von Herrenhut and Kaiser Wilhelm

Both the palate and the nose of this Apfelschaumwein are intensely rich, with good structure and depth. Taste wise somewhere between French cidre, German Apfelwein and dry Champagne with a strong but balanced acidity. One of my favourites. For the full review click here.

 

 

Dupont, Organic Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie 2011 – Normandy, ‘France – a cuvée of 13 varietiesCidre Bouche Organic Dupont

Out of the better-known French cidre names, Dupont will provide complex richness with beautiful appley taste accompanied by citrus and funky notes. The most complex and extraordinary French cidre I have ever tried. Bouche is an elegant, light and smooth cidre for those having a sweet tooth.  For the full review click here.

 

 

West Milton, Lancombe Rising – Dorset, UK – a cuvée of Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Chisel Jerseyimg_7574-2

One of the few UK’s producers of keeved cider, West Milton created Lancombe Rising, a cider with an extraordinary and extremely rich palate of dried fruits, red apple and light citrus flavours with the right level of sweetness. Suitable for all palates. For the full review click here.

 

 

Guzman Riestra, Sidra Brut Nature – Asturias, Spain

img_8513

Made using the Champagne Method, Sidra Brut Nature from Guzman Riestra has an exceptionally sophisticated and balanced palate full of refreshing citrus fruits and ripe apples. Every sip reveals a new taste and is like an in-depth exploration of many layers of flavours. Dry with some residual sweetness will appeal to larger audiences. For the full review click here.

 

 

Eric Bordelet, Sidre Brut Tendre 2014 – Normandy, France

img_8429Eric Bordelet’s Brut is a classic among cider lovers. Wonderfully expressing cidre with an exceptional and extremely long finish full of baking spices that linger on and on. This cidre is not too sweet but still, it tastes almost like an ice cider or dessert wine. It has a nice level of acidity to it balancing the sweetness. One of a kind. For the full review click here.

 

 

 

Mayador, Produccion Limitada Cosecha 2014 – Asturias, Spain

img_6670This bright and apple-forward sidra is a delicious example of a sidra that can be enjoyed not only by local Asturians but also by cider lovers from other regions of the world. You’ll find aromas of citruses and herbal notes, crisp acetic-acidity, and tannins on the palate. Every bottle has its own number so you know that you are drinking something special. For the full review click here.

 

 

Kliment, Demi Sec 2014 – Central Bohemia, Czech Republic

cidrerie-kliment-demi-sec

A remarkable sparkling cider from the Czech Republic. Rich, mouth-filling and relatively high in residual sugar, with notes of baked apples, this cider is perfect for those who prefer their ciders on the sweet side. For the full review click here.

 

 

 

Kerné, Cidre Le Kerné – Brittany, France

img_8309

I like this cidre for its elegance and rustic character without intense funk, in contrast to many French ciders that are quite sweet, and because it has complex notes of dried fruits, baked apples with nice appley flavour. For the full review click here.