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In the spring all apple trees are in bloom in Normandy, a total of 9 million trees are in snowy white and pink blossom.  Very few of these apples are grown for eating ; rather they are used for making either cider or Calvados.

Calvados.

Normandy‘s famous apple Brandy has not always enjoyed the reputation it has today. Country folk used to drink it from the still or mix it with their morning coffee at the local bar. The meals in Normandy are very copious and rich and many dishes are doused with generous dollops of cream, so the custom of the trou Normand is a part of the gastronomic gathering in Normandy.It implies having a shot of Calavados in between courses, supposedly to make room for the next dish!.

Calvados owes its complex flavour to the mix of used apples to produce it. There are about 300 different varieties in Normandy of which 48 are used for Calvados. A successful blend lies in the combination of 40% sweet, 40% bitter and 20% sour apples. Calvados begins life as a cider, then it is distilled in the spring following the  harvest. The spirit is left to age in oak barrels which has previously contained cider, or sherry or port tannins in the wood that will interact with the brandy, bringing color and roundness and tempering its fire until it becomes mellow with scents of spice, apple, vanilla, caramel and leather.

Cavaldos Appellations.

Generic AOC Calvados may be made in an area extending from Cherbourg to North of Le Mans. The traditional way to make  Calvados is to produce it in a continuous still. Like Armagnac. AOC Cavados du pays d’Auge is in some ways more aristocratic, it must be made by the double distillation method used for Cognac and the apples must be grown in the beautiful Auge countryside that truly radiates out from the chic seaside town of Deauville. The region known as the Domfrontais has always been known for its abundance of pear trees; Cider is used for distilling Calvados Domfrontais must contain 30% pears. Very often in practice it contains up to 70%.  The texture is softer with riper rounded flavour than the other two AOCs.

Calvados Categories.

The quality of Calvados is determined by how long it has aged in wood. Two years minimum is required for Calvados sold under the three star or three-apple, symbol is three years for Domfrontais. These are pale spirits tasting of bitter apples. Three years in barrel earns it a reserve or vieux label. After 4 to 5 years it becomes old reserve or VSOP and after 6 years a range of honorific designations are used such as extra Napoleon or Hors d’Age. When a bottle shows an indication of age , then it is the minimum age of the youngest spirit in the blend. But if the bottle mentions a particular vintage, the Calvados has been distilled from a single harvest.

Cider.

Half of the apples grown in Normandy are used for making cider. The apples used for making Calvados are not necessarily used for making cider. Areas with clay are good for cider apples but silty soils will definitely give superior fruit for Calavados.

Calvados

Calvados

Armagnac Napoleon

Armagnac Napoleon

Cider.

Cider.

Apple trees

Apple trees

Calvados

Calvados

Apples of Normandy.

Apples of Normandy.

Pommeau de Normandy

Pommeau de Normandy

Pommeau Normand can be served as an Aperitif.

Pommeau Normand can be served as an Aperitif.

du Pays d’Auge was awarded AOC status in 1996 . It is pure juice and unpasteurized cider; The fermentation process is absolutely natural. Small producers very often do not filter their cider, so the presence of a light deposit is quite normal.

Le Pommeau.

Is made by adding Calvados to freshly pressed apples, thereby stopping the fermentation process. It was kind of an obscure regional specialty until it was awarded appellation status in 1991. AOC Pommeau de Normandy has a very rich and sweet apple flavor with a balancing acidity. You can drink it chilled as an aperitif or with cream or apple-based dishes.

The best Calvados producers.

Adrien Camut ( La Lande Saint-leger), Les Chaix du verger Normand ( Domfront), Chateau -du-Breuil ( Le breuil-en-Auge), Distillery des fiefs Sainte-Anne ( Coudray-Rabut), Roger Giard ( Cambremer), Roger Groult ( Saint-Cyr- du -Ronceray).

La Benedectine.

Based on a 16th-century elixir, the Benedictine liquor is flavoured with 27 spices, including cinnamon, cardamon, saffron, aloe, vanilla. The very extravagant Benedictine palace at Fecamp was built in 1882 by Alexandre Le Grand and houses the distillery, a museum and an Art Gallery located at 110 rue Alexandre Le Grand, Fecamp. Phone # (02-35-10-26-10)

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