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The great vintages of the Rhône valley

The great vintages of the Rhône valley

Today we’re taking you on a discovery tour of the grand wines produced in the Rhone valley. Our stroll though the vines will introduce you to both the northern section between Vienna and Valence and the southern wine-growing area between Montélimar and Avignon. Both of these valleys deliver exceptional wines which we will begin to review without further ado.

I – Remarkable wine of the Northern Rhône valley

We first set foot on the wine trail near the city of Vienne, at the very north of the region.

         The first vineyard you will run into is also one of the finest: The Côte-Rotie. These wines are made from two grape varieties, Viognier and Shiraz, and as a result they boast a deep ruby colour. Aromas arising from a glass of Côte-Rotie are very fine and yet complex, combining several spices, red and black berries and violets. A well crafted bottle can easily become an exceptional vintage. This vineyard spreads out over 308 hectares and produces purely red wine.

         Further south, the road reaches the famous terroir of Condrieu, famous for its white wines produced from Viognier. These very fresh and fragranced wines have given the terroir its wide popularity. Typical aromas are the floral notes, such as violet, and the fruitier ones like mango or apricot. This vintage will seduce you with its pale gold colour in its youth, a truly irresistible wine but quite sensitive to oxidation. For this reason, you’d better drink Condrieu in its young years, some winemakers manage to age them well but they remain quite rare.

As we continue down the road, we happen upon a small (just 3 hectares!) appellation called Château-Grillet. Here too you will find only white wine, but a divine one which will take you as close as you can get to gustatory bliss. A single producer has the monopoly of this vintage, as a result sampling a glass or two is rather a privilege. Viognier will result in wines with floral notes and aromas of peach, honey and musk, especially as the wine grows older.

 

The next stop is the one and only Saint Joseph, responsible for respectively 88 and 12 percent of the region’s red and white wine production, both resulting in exceptional bottles.  The vineyard was established during antiquity, and is deeply rooted in steep slopes and splendid calcareous terroirs. Nowadays, the region’s red wines are made from Shiraz while the whites come from Roussanne and Marsanne. Shiraz delivers a balanced and indulgent palate, and the whites are recognisable by their sleek straw colour tinted with a green hue. This rich diversity contributes to making this vintage a must on our list. 

         Keep going and you will reach a prestigious vintage: Crozes-Hermitage. This 1683-hectare vineyard is the largest out of the entire northern valley, and it is also one of the rare vineyards to be located on the left bank of the Rhone river. Red wines made here (92% of the appellation’s wines) come out with a beautiful crimson-red colour and aromas both floral and fruity. The red berry aromas are due mainly to Shiraz, but the wines can also be made up to 15% with Marsanne or Roussane. The main qualities of this vintage are finesse and elegance.

         The following vineyard is the famous Hermitage,  an appellation which covers three left-bank municipalities of the Drôme : Tain-l’Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Larnage. It covers 137 hectares producing mostly reds (76%) and exceptional reds at that. Here too the variety used is Shiraz, resulting in deep ruby coloured wines. They tend to age well as they develop new flavours derived from violets, spices and blackcurrants.

         White wines, on the other hand, flow from Marsanne and Roussane grape varieties, and the aromas encountered here are creamy and soft, often of hazelnuts apricots and peaches.

         Overall, Hermitage is one of the legendary vintages from the Rhone Valley, and if you doubt it remember the historical figures who swore by these wines: French kings like Henry the fourth or Louis the thirteenth and authors such as Boileau and Dumas.

         As we cross over to the right bank, we find the vintage of Cornas. This vineyard covers 145 hectares and produces solely red wine with nothing but Shiraz. Indeed, the wines from this appellation are deep red in colour and highly textured. Young wines especially offer beautiful flavours, of chocolate in particular. Other aromas include pepper and truffles.

         Finally, the northern Rhone Valley ends with the vineyard of Saint-Péray. The 85 hectares of land under vine to the west of Valence produce white wine exclusively, known for its unique flavour derived from Marsanne and Roussane. The former results in light wines with soft aromas of apricot, dried fruit, beeswax, acacia and quince, and the latter produces excellent, pale straw coloured wines with excellent ageing potential. All of these remarkable traits are partly due to the unique land which hosts these vines, consisting of four geological layers.

II – Remarkable wines of the Southern Rhône valley

We continue our journey by crossing over to the southern section of the wine country, called the meridional Rhone valley. The first « cru » we encounter is called Cairanne, an appellation famous for its mostly red wine (96%). This vintage is expertly crafted with specific grape varieties which deliver particular flavours. The grapes behind red wine are half Grenache, 20% Shiraz and Mourvedre and 30% others. White wines in turn are made with Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Grenache and Bourboulenc, and releases subtle aromas of stone fruit, citrus fruit and floral hints.

         A little further south sits the mighty Gigondas vineyard on its 630m high rise. Over 200 million years old, the area was beautifully described by Chef Alain Passard:

“Beneath the lace of Montmirail where the climate and geology are so peculiar, refusing to welcome grapevines would be a sacrilege. Wines over here show truly unique character. This wine calls for communion”

This praise is well deserved by the wine produced here, nearly all red (99%, the rest is rosé) from 1208 hectares of vines. Aromas you will encounter are a blend or red and black berries, which follow through to the palate with coarse fruity and peppery flavours. These flavours come from Grenache (80%) Shiraz and Mourvèdre.

The unique strength of Gigondas is concealed in its subtle flavours, making it a must taste vintage. The terroir also accommodates beautiful white wines, but not under its own appellation since they are not recognised by the INAO. Recently several winemakers have decided to take action in order to amend the appellation. A special edition of Terre de Vins from last October regarding wines from the south studies this issue in more detail.

Now, if there is a local king of the terroirs in this region we have reached it: the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Its history is closely linked to that of the popes who have inhabited the region. The name dates back to pope Jean XXII during the fourteenth century, a great lover of this vineyard. It dominates the valley nestled on a hill 120m high and is blessed with very helpful ground. Indeed, the floor of the vineyard is constituted of round pebbles, which release the heat they’ve soaked up during the day and greatly benefit the vines by helping them ripen to perfection (see our article on ground and climate). The surface under vine is vast, 3134 hectares, and produces 95 000 hectolitres every year. This adds up to 13 million bottles sold, mostly red wine (93%). 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is characterised by spicy, toasted aromas and a hint of chocolate. On the palate the wine comes through with finesse and great power, its firm structure contributes to giving it great length. All in all, this terroir produces one of the most valuable vintages of the French vineyard and is the major vintage of the southern Rhône valley.

         On the other bank of the Rhône, facing Châteauneuf-du-Pape, our journey ends with Lirac. Many people agree to classify this terroir as a rising star in the region. The local winemakers are working hard to perfect the wine’s qualities and fashion it into a prestigious vintage. The originality of this appellation is partly due to the three types of wine it produces: red (87%), rosé (3%) and white (10%). Altogether they cover 771 hectares. The ground contains the same pebbles as its neighbour across the river, as well as clay, and it accommodates several grape varieties: Shiraz, Grenache and Cinsault. All these factors give Lirac special value and contribute to the creation of quality vintages. It is a good choice of wine to age in a cellar for a while.

         The winding road along the Rhone river never fails to astonish and delight wine lovers in every style. From the world famous vintages to the more unique and less distributed local gems, this wine region is a must for both red and white wines. We hope we’ve helped you get a clear idea of the region’s many appellations, stay tuned for similar articles on the rest of the wondrous wine regions! Why not drop us a comment below and tell us what you’d like to read about next…?

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Homage to Paul Bocuse

Homage to Paul Bocuse

 « The truth lays at the bottom of the pot» These well known words welcome gourmet visitors to the Paul Bocuse Tavern in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or.         Exactly a year ago, on January 20th 2018, the great master of gastronomy drew his last. This is an opportunity...

Wanna know more about wine ?

Please drink with moderation.

Homage to Paul Bocuse

Homage to Paul Bocuse

« The truth lays at the bottom of the pot»

These well known words welcome gourmet visitors to the Paul Bocuse Tavern in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or.        

Exactly a year ago, on January 20th 2018, the great master of gastronomy drew his last. This is an opportunity for us to share with you a unique issue dealing with both food and wine, and to walk in the footsteps of the surprising “Monsieur Paul”.

I – The legendary Inn of Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or

Who here has never dreamt of entering this inn to sample its wines and savour its dishes? Indeed, as soon as you set foot in the establishment, the butler joins you and leads you to your table, winding through the rich and beautifully gilded furniture and walking you through all the style and delicacy of the 18th century.
Once you’re comfortably settled in, you are handed the elegant menu, or “carte”, which strikes you with the quality of the wines offered by the sommelier.
Among the many suggestions, you will find white wines, such as a prestige Pouilly-Fuissé – George Duboeuf, a Hermitage “Le Chevalier de Sterimberg” – Paul Jaboulet Aîné, or perhaps a Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru « Les Caillerets » – Jean Marc Morey.

Alternatively, on the next page you can browse the red wine selection, in particular vintages from the côtes du Rhône such as a Côte-Rôtie-Clusel Roch, or un Cornas “Terres Brûlées” -Jean-Luc Colombo.
In addition, in the Pauillac appellation terroir located in the north of Bordeaux in Aquitaine, you will find a Pauillac Château Grand Puy – Lacoste-Grand cru classé.
Finally, you may also opt for sweet wines, such as a Gewürztraminer « Blason d’Alsace » Late Harvest – Léon Beyer, or perhaps a Hungarian wine: A Tokay Aszù 5 Puttonyos – Disznoko

Meanwhile your mouth is already watering at the though of what awaits you on the following page. Paul Bocuse’s cuisine promotes fresh and simple products, like the delectable Poultry from Bresse “Mere FIllioux”, served with Morel mushroom sauce and in-season vegetables. Before you get carried away however, you must begin by selecting an entrée such as a terrine of foie gras or the pan fried variation. If you are more into seafood, we highly recommend the marinated « Bømlo » salmon with its imperial caviar or the lobster “à la française”.

Perhaps you will be more intrigued by the famous VGE soup, which stands for Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. This black truffle soup was crafted for the French president in 1975.

And finally, the coup de grace, you will be presented with a cheese trolley and a selection of desserts to conclude your intensely flavoured journey through a masters take on French cuisine. Up until last year, Paul Bocuse himself would stroll among the tables and ensure all his patrons were enjoying their meal.

« Monsieur Paul », also referred to as the chef of the century, will continue to fascinate the world with his cuisine, both refined and traditional and yet original by its simplicity.

The master of gastronomy summarised his art as follows “There is no such thing as great or poor cuisine, there is only good cuisine”. In several interviews he insisted on the importance of cooking with freshly picked and harvested ingredients. This very authentic cuisine has spoken for the French culinary culture way beyond its national borders, as Bocuse eventually became the most famous chef on earth. He was the first to step out of the kitchen in order to give time to the press, and appear with his unique charisma on screens throughout the world.

He would never hesitate, however, to remind his chefs that the time has come to hurry back to their stoves.  Both humble and generous, “Monsieur Paul” represents the excellence to which the region of Lyon owes its renown. We will now take a closer look at the path he followed to reach this goal of a lifetime.

II – A calling for gastronomy

Paul Bocuse was born in his family Inn near Lyon, in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, on February 11th 1926. As he grows up in this environment, he develops strong ties to his region and takes solid roots in his homeland. Indeed, although Bocuse has travelled quite a bit throughout the world, he ended up gladly remaining in his dear Inn. It is there in fact that, exactly a year ago, the great man expired.
How did his passion for gastronomy begin then? Some would say it was written in his DNA. Bocuse was descended from a long line of inn keepers and wine makers. The family’s very first restaurant opened in 1853. The first owner of the family inn was his grandfather, Joseph Bocuse (1869-1942).

However, during the second world war, the young Paul had less concern for cooking and inn-keeping as he enrolled in the French army of Liberation in 1944, under the General de Gaulle. He was part of the first free division of Frenchmen, with which he took part in several battles until he was injured in Alsace and nursed back to health by American soldiers. These soldiers took this opportunity to tattoo a French rooster on his left shoulder, a tattoo which he will proudly wear during his entire life. His involvement in the war effort against Nazi Germany earned him the Croix de Guerre 1939-45.

III – A rising star

After the war in 1946, Paul Bocuse decides to take up his passion once again. He learns the basics and more with a leading figure of Lyon’s cuisine: The Mère (meaning mother) Brazier. If you’d like to know a little more about the context and the story of Lyon’s “mothers”, have a read on our website where you can find our article on Lyon, capital of the gastronomy.
From the years spent in the traditional “bouchons” (restaurants of Lyon), Bocuse receives all the regional heritage he will strive to honour in his cooking for years to come.
A few years later, Paul Bocuse receives valuable training from another key figure of the food scene in Lyon: Ferdinand Point, under whom he will work eight years. Point was the first chef to receive three stars with the Michelin Guide in 1933. He is widely recognised as one of the founding fathers of “new cuisine”.
Confident with the training and experience he has received under the Mere Brazier and Ferdinand Point, Paul Bocuse then decides to go back to Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or. With his fathers help, he takes over the family Inn, which soon earns its first Michelin star. The following year he loses his father, and becomes the true Paul Bocuse.

IV – A meteoric rise to the pinnacleof culinary success

Our man’s destiny took a crucial turn in 1961. It is the year he is given the award and title of “Meilleur ouvrier de France”, meaning best artisan/worker of the country. For a young chef, this prestigious title represents lasting excellence. The president Charles de Gaulle watches as “monsieur Paul” is decorated with the medal of honour at the Sorbonne.

This is no reason for the chef to rest, as he receives his second Michelin star in 1962. He then reaches the summit in 1965 as he finally receives his third Michelin star.

By now the die is cast, and Paul Bocuse is an essential figure of French gastronomy. As such, he receives honours from the French republic in 1975 and the president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing makes him a Knight of the Legion d’Honneur. A lavish reception is pulled together for the occasion, and the freshly knighted Bocuse is in charge of the meal. It is for this occasion that he created his « VGE » soup mentioned above.
The flow of acknowledgements and awards is never ending as Monsieur Paul is decorated again in 1987, by prime minister Jacques Chirac this time, Officer of the Legion d’Honneur. Last but not least, he is made Commandor of the Legion d’Honneur in 2004 by prime minister Jean Pierre Raffarin.

The Paul Bocuse empire lives on from this solid base, expanding through France and beyond.

V – Paul Bocuse and his empire

The fame that followed this chef around led him to open restaurants all over the world. Paul Bocuse restaurants can be found in New York, Tokyo or as far as Disney World in Florida.

He doesn’t forget his dear region, however, as many “brasseries” (French restaurants) appear in Lyon such as the North, the East, the South and the West. There is even a somewhat “fast-food” version of these called the West Express.

This empire is now worth over 50 million euros.

There is even a competition today that lives on from his time, as Bocuse created the Bocuse d’Or. It is one of the most prestigious competitions on the French culinary scene. He actually called this contest the Nobel prize of Gastronomy.

All in all, we can certainly address a word of thanks to the man we now refer to as the Chef of the century, simply for his brilliance. And as Monsieur Paul used to say

“In order to double our happiness, we must simply share it”.

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Champagne, a wine to celebrate!

Champagne, a wine to celebrate!

Christmas time is often associated to champagne. The joy and celebrations, but also the foods which match perfectly with this wine. (Champagne is indeed a wine). The process of making it, however, is rather elaborate and relies on a technique known to few. The aim of this article is to help you better understand this bubbly wine produced solely in the champagne region.

The French region Champagne is, in turn, often associated to the grand champagne producers (called champagne “houses”), such as Moet&Chandon, Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot… It is interesting to note that only for this region do our minds go straight to brands rather than appellations. There are nonetheless terroirs in champagne, spread out over 4 regions: the montagne de Reims, the Côte des blancs, the Côte des Bar and the Marne Valley. Although Reims remains the historical capital of the region, Epernay is a serious contender to the title. This is partly due to Epernay’s famous avenue de Champagne, the most expensive street on earth because of the millions of bottles nestled underground.

I – The region’s wealth dates back

Long before it even became sparkling, wine from Champagne was already prestigious. Its first vines were planted in roman times. As is the case in many French wine making regions, the romans were the frits to discover its potential despite the relatively cold climate.

Later on, Clovis, King of the Francs, was baptized by the bishop of Reims and chose to celebrate with champagne wine. This tradition was kept up by the 33 French kings who were crowned later on in the Reims Cathedral.

The Duke of Orleans then introduced sparkling wine from champagne to the high society, where it was quickly adopted, and from then on the market skyrocketed.

   Before becoming a world famous brand of Champagne, Dom Perignon was a modest monk. Some say he was the first to master the process of making fine bubbly, although we have no historical proof of this fact. Either way, he played a major role in the wine’s development, and he greatly improved the technique for his Abbey in Hautvilliers. His wine was very reputable and sold at the price of the champagne produced by great houses. Other religious men were involved in this journey towards great Champagne.  

Among the main players of the region, we find famous merchants of the 18th century, in particular Claude Moët and Florens-Louis Heidsieck. The former slipped into the court at Versailles to advertise his wine throughout the world, whereas the latter presented his wine directly to Queen Marie-Antoinette. Both built an empire still standing today, thanks to their wit and creativity. Indeed, they were already excellent at marketing in their time.

We must also mention the women who made history in champagne. The Veuve Clicquot (Meaning Clicquot widow) was a formidable salesperson, who even managed to take over the Russian market. In addition to her commercial success, this very influent woman also invented rosé champagne and the riddling table with her cellar master Antoine de Müller. Also during the 19th century, the Pommery widow marketed the Champagne bearing her name, and did so very successfully as Pommery became on of the big champagne houses. 

Finally, some unexpected factors behind the success of champagne are rappers such as Jay-Z, who partner with certain houses to increase their fame and value, and their sales especially in the states. Several debates ensued on the appropriateness of such an ostentatious message, but it remains undeniable that such associations have boosted the international reputation of champagne houses. 

II – Behind the bubbles

Effervescence was introduced very late. At first, bubbles were undesirable, misunderstood and seen as a flaw in wine. This type of wine wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today, it was even called wine of the devil because of the unfortunate tendency barrels of bubbly had to explode in the hold of ships carrying them. Even once it became a more common style of wine, sparkling wine was much sweeter at its beginnings than Champagne is today.

The elaborate process behind making sparkling wine, which we are about to go through, was developed in stages by several people. There have been many contributors to this process, and each Champagne house has its own history and specificities.  

 

Before bubbles come into the mix, Champagnes is a wine made pretty much like any other. Grapes are harvested and pressed, just as if we were making white wine., and the grape varieties used are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. These last two are red grapes with white flesh, and so they must be pressed very lightly to result in white wine.  The juice then goes into a vat, and then what we call the “Prise de mousse” (secondary fermentation) takes place in the bottle.

As the wine is bottled, additional yeast is introduced so that it can consume the leftover sugar. This prompts the creation of carbon dioxide, as the wine stays in a horizontal position 9for 12 months at least) and the wine ages on its lees.  There must be at least 15 months between the introduction on of additional yeast and its removal, and this limit increases to 3 years for champagnes wich are “Millésimés” (Vintage). This is the legal framework, but in reality most Champagne makers keep this process going for much longer.

The yeast at work during all this time eventually coagulates into residue which must be removed from the bottle. In order to achieve this, the bottles are turned upside-down very slowly using a riddling table, a process which is often automatic nowadays. The Yeast eventually comes to rest in the neck of the bottle, and is then submerged into a liquid which will freeze the residue. The last step called “dégorgement”(disgorging) consists in opening the bottle by popping out the frozen yeasts.

Before the bottle is corked once again to be distributed, an expedition liquor is added to the wine. It contains wine aged by 2 years at least, sometimes combined with sugar. The quantity of sugar added will determine the flavour but also the category of the champagne. From the driest to the sweetest, these categories are: brut nature (or non dosé), extra brut, brut, extra dry, demi-sec, doux.

Hopefully you now know how champagne is made and prepared for distribution. Once you have your chosen bottle, what will you pair it with? A few pointers to help you out.

III – Food and Champagne pairings

For this purpose, we will separate types of champagne into 4 categories. « blanc de blancs », made only from chardonnay, « blanc de noirs » made only from the red grapes  Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, rosés Champagne, mostly made from a mixture of red wine from the region and champagne, and finally vintage champagne.

« Blanc de blancs » will go well with meals that call for sharper wines. A good example is seafood or oily fish varieties like salmon. You could also think of getting sushi for this type of wine. Another idea would be soft cheese, such as Saint-Félicien.

Regarding « blanc de noirs », their fruity aromas will allow you to venture out towards dishes with more character. It is sometimes even served with foie gras, as mentioned in our previous article. You could also go for white meat dishes, for instance turkey with chestnuts.

Rosé champagne is the only rose wine which is made by mixing red and white wine, it is known and appreciated for its powerful and fruity profile. Rise champagne goes well with meats like duck or lamb, but also with fruit pies. It is sharp enough to cut through pastry, and its fruity flavours complements that of the fruit.

Finally, to find a perfect match for vintage champagne, you can use its slightly oily and powerful characteristics. Don’t hesitate to serve it with ripened cheese, or dishes served with mushrooms. 

Ready to taste ? 

You are now ready to begin sampling different champagnes over the holidays, and try food pairings you might enjoy. So cheers, and make sure you surprise you guests with original and elaborate food pairings. Champagne is a wine to celebrate with, but also and fortunately a wine that can be had at any point during a meal and complement many dishes!

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Tu veux en savoir plus sur le vin ?

L’abus d’alcool nuit à la santé.
À consommer avec modération

Cider, drink of the kings

This time around, we wont be telling you about grapes but turning towards the subject of apples. Indeed, as we are getting ready to welcome the twelfth night pancake to the table for the feast of the Epiphany, we mustn’t forget its traditional partner: cider. This sweet drink is often underrated, partly due to the low-end, massively produced versions of it we encounter. What we are getting at in this article is rather the fruit of aged artisanal techniques and savoir faire.

Cider has had an eventful and unique history. For a long time, in France, it has been a common and renowned beverage. In fact, its popularity increased considerably after the Phylloxera epidemic hit the country’s vineyards. However, cider’s century long ascent reached its peak in 1914 before declining sharply due to the two world wars, which had a harsh impact on Normandy, Maine and Britany to a lesser extent. Thankfully, in more recent years, cider has made a comeback and many wine cellars are beginning to recommend and sell some. It is the perfect opportunity to bring cider back to the table and enjoy a bottle with friends and family!

Let us take you through cider’s origins and making process as we uncover the secrets to its production.

I – How and where is cider made in  France 

            As you will have figured out, cider is made from apples, but not just any apple. Indeed, there are about 400 varieties of apples in France today, which can be classified into one of three categories according to their flavour profile: Sweet apples, sour apples and bittersweet apples. From here, producers can assemble apples from different categories or stick to a single one.

Apple trees distinguish themselves in that they only produce fruit every other year, that is if they are not tampered with in a chemical process. Contrary to the practice for grapes, harvest is conducted once the fruit has fallen and apples are picked up from the ground. This is typically done between September and December.

            Once the apples have been harvested, they are stored in a warehouse where they continue to develop all their aromas and flavours. They are then washed and crushed so as to later extract the juice. But before the crushed apples are pressed for juice, they are exposed for a few hours in vats away from the open air. Then, just like grapes in wine making, the apples are pressed and the juice collected.

             The high levels of sugar in the apples will cause the juice to ferment very quickly. The juice is promptly pumped into a tank, often in a dry and cool environment. Once the process of fermentation has come to an end, the juice is once again pumped out and unwanted particles are filtered out. This is when the alcoholic fermentation begins: again similarly to winemaking, yeasts will consume the sugar present and release alcohol and carbon dioxide in its stead.

            Opting for a long and slow fermenting process will result in a high quality cider, which explains why certain AOCs require a minimum duration for the process.

            Once it has fermented and the required amount of alcohol is reached, the cider is bottled at last. The fermentation within the bottle is slowed down so that the cider may the be kept for years.

II – Food and cider pairings

You will have heard of the typical pairing of the moment: cider with the Twelfth night cake (called cake of the three wise men in France: a buttery pastry stuffed with frangipani) a truly delightful match. But cider can be had with a number of other dishes, thanks to its powerful flavours which allow many types of pairings.

            You could go for the regional pairing of the terroir by serving cider with a classic Camembert from Normandy. The acidity and freshness of a good cider will offset the creamy texture of the cheese and the two will go together beautifully. In this case we recommend going for a traditional style of cider.

            The beverage could also be selected to accompany white meat or shellfish based dishes. Indeed, cider is often used in beef recipes or to craft sauces. Alternatively, cider – especially medium dry cider – is a good choice for sweet-and-savoury dishes, or cheese made from ewe’s milk. Raw cider boasts high levels of acidity and can also be served with soft and pressed cheese, or be had as an appetiser.  

III – Welcome to cider-land

This article wouldn’t be very helpful if it didn’t explain the different types of cider and appellations in order to give you a clear picture. The categories of cider are determined based on the level of alcohol they contain. These categories are:

  • Sweet Cider (doux) which does not ferment too long. Alcohol level must be below 3%
  • Semi-dry cider (demi-sec), between 3.5% and 4.5%
  • Raw cider (Brut), which ferments longer and alcohol content is higher (between 4% and 5 %)
  • Traditional cider is the name given to ciders with alcohol content higher that 5%, quite like an extreme version of raw cider.

 

            After many years of studying boundaries and product specifications since the 1980s, cider producers were finally granted their first AOCs (appellations) in 1996: Pays d’Auge and Cornouaille. Ciders from these regions must satisfy certain requirements, which guarantee a minimum level of quality, paired with the expertise of the producer making the cider.

            It was only in 2016 that Cotentin also obtained its own cider appellation, since product specifications took much longer to gain approval.

We strongly recommend that you make the trip to Normandy or Britany to discover their wonderful ciders. It’s a shame that this delectable beverage has lost in popularity in the past years because of the market of mass produced average ciders, even though skilled producers are still crafting exceptional bottles that deserve to be kept and enjoyed. Some of these producers we can recommend are Lesuffleur and Lemasson in the Cotentin. In order to discover the region and the pleasures it has in store, why not take a day to follow the cider trail, peppered with castles, horse farms and manor houses …

If you’re interested in a day trip, don’t hesitate to look at offers from mywinedays !

Best wishes !  The whole team of the guide Le Décanté wish you the best for year to come. We hope it will provide you great discoveries and moments of sharing.

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