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)
Le 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 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 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
All 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)
As 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 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!
Just 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)
I 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)
Manoir 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)
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)
Ferme 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)
Cidre 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)
This 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)
Domaine 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?