Review of Herout’s Pommeau, from France. Pommeau is Calvados apple brandy + cider. I sampled this at Cider Summit 2018 (see my notes here), and I’ve also had Herout’s Cotentin Extra-Brut, Cotentin Brut, Pommeau, Coup de Foudre, D-Day Commemorative Brut, and Micro-Cuvée No. 1,
Cider: Pommeau de Normandie
Cidery: Maison Herout AOC
Cidery Location: Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, France
How Supplied: 750ml corked cap bottle
Style: organic French Pommeau (1/4 apple brandy + 3/4 cider) from cider apples
Availability: In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online at their French Cider Inc. website (at the time of this review, they are able to ship to WA, OR, ID, CA, NV, NM, AK, ND, NH, & DC). They also offer a number of other selections from Herout, plus ciders, Pommeaux, and Calvadoses from many other French makers.
Cider Description: Produced from apples in specially designated organic orchards on the Cotentin peninsula, this aperitif wine is made by mixing 3/4 fresh apple cider and 1/4 one-year-old Calvados (a cognac-style spirit made from apples) then aging it for at least 14 months in old oak barrels at the Vergers de la Chapelle estate in Normandy, France.
Cidery Description: Since the 1940s, Hérout cidre has been produced by the Hérout family on the Cotentin Peninsula on the Northwest coast of Normandy France, in Auvers, where apples thrive in its lush and oceanic climate. They are the newest cidre AOC in France, since May 2016. The cidermaker Marie-Agnes Herout was awarded the highest civilian honor in France for her 16 years of work getting the AOC recognized – Le Croix de Chevalier, Legion d’Honneur (Knights Cross for the Legion of Honneur).
Where Bought: Cider Summit Seattle 2018. Now that the 2019 event is coming up (see here), I thought it was about time I opened it!
Where Drank: home
How Found: sampling it at Cider Summit Seattle 2018 (see here)
First Impression: Caramel hue with a hint of pink. Still (no carbonation). Smells of apple brandy, sweet and rich.
Tasting Notes: Semi-dry to semi-sweet. Medium bodied. Low tartness, acidity, bitterness, and tannins. No sourness or funk. Notes of bittersweet cider apples, smoke, caramel, orange, leather, brown sugar, and of course, brandy. Long warming alcohol-forward finish. Moderate apple flavor. No sessionability. Moderate to high flavor intensity. High complexity.
My Opinion: Awesome! I loved how smokey it was, and the level of sweetness. Lovely flavor profile and complexity. Note that I prefer this cold with one ice cube, as I’m not super accustomed to drinking spirits and such straight, and the slight dilution didn’t significantly change the flavor.
Most Similar to: Although I have tried one other French Pommeau, from Etienne Dupont, that one perceived sweeter and had a much different flavor profile, more vanilla than smoke. Therefore, I’d say this is closest to a more complex version of 2 Towns Pommeau. Most others I’ve tried were drier or sweeter than this.
Side Notes: Due to the high alcohol content and being still, Pommeaux can be kept open much longer than a cider, weeks or even months, so no need to avoid purchasing (or opening) it due to the larger bottle size. This is also an excellent value, as it is no more expensive than local Pommeaux (which run ~ $20 / 375ml, and this is ~ $40 / 750ml), but I think it is superior.
Closing Notes: French Cider Inc has an awesome selection of French Pommeaux and ciders. They now also have some selections available at Total Wine, at least in Washington, which makes their imports easier to buy than ever. A favorite of mine from them is La Chouette Cidre Rosé.
Have you tried Pommeau? What did you think?