Aval Cidre Artisinal

Review of Aval Cidre Artisinal, from France.  I’ve tried this twice before; the first was a sample pour from a friend’s bottle (see here), and the second was a bottle I bought (see here).  However, the co-founder of Aval replied to my review (which stated that it tasted flat) stating it was supposed to be carbonated, and was kind enough to send a replacement (actually three, smaller bottles, instead of the larger one I had originally).  I’ve also sampled a number of other French ciders (like these).

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<they also sent some swag Postcards; this one is just funny, although a couple were a bit racy, of famous paintings with Aval added>

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Aval.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Cidre Artisinal
Cidery:  Aval
Cidery Location:  Bretagne France
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  330oz bottles (four pack), or 750ml bottles
Style:  French cidre from cider apples

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Availability:  At least in IL, LA, MA, MO, NY, OR, and TX (per this list).  Plus I expect it in WA soon (as my friend who manages the Schilling Cider House got a sample, although I haven’t seen it carried in any store yet), and I read it is in VT.

Description:  Made in Bretagne, France.  From 100% pure apple juice (Not from concentrate).  Naturally Gluten Free.  All-natural.  No added sugar.  6% abv.

AVAL means Apple in Breton, the traditional language in Bretagne, the region where it comes from, that’s had more than 1000 years experience in making cider and is touted by insiders as the best cider region in the world.

AVAL cider combines five types of apples exclusively from the region, giving the drink a crisp and citrusy taste. It’s the perfect balance between subtle sweetness and refreshing bitterness.

Here is the press release from their U.S. launch in fall 2016.

Price:  n/a (although I’ve seen it in 750ml bottles for $8.85)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Initially, browsing, but this time it showed up in the mail.

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First Impression:  Moderate carbonation.  Deep orange amber.  Smells of apple juice and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Low tannins.  Hints of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apple juice and pomace, yeast, brown sugar, orange, and must.  Moderate finish.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High apple flavor.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  This was definitely different than the other batch…way more carbonated, but also more yeasty and bitter, especially on the finish.  Not better or worse, but different.  More beer-like.

Most Similar to:  Loic Raison 1923 Brut

Closing Notes:  Some of my favorite French cidres remain Celt, Dan Armor, and Le Brun.  However, I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to drink this one, especially if I found it in a convenient four pack of 11.2oz single bottles and couldn’t get Celt (which I usually stock on the house).  I’d say Celt is more likely to be a crowd-pleaser and/or good for folks new to cider, but Aval is more likely to please a beer-drinker and/or someone who usually tends towards Normandy instead of Brittany French ciders.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

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Aval Cidre Artisinal

Review of Aval Cidre Artisinal, from France.  I previously tried this (see here), but this is the first bottle I’ve bought.  I’ve also tried a number of other French ciders (like these).

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Cider:  Cidre Artisinal
Cidery:  Aval
Cidery Location:  Bretagne France
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  corked & caged 750ml bottles (and four packs of 11.2oz bottles)
Style:  French cidre from cider apples

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Availability:  at least in IL, LA, MA, MO, NY, OR, and TX (per this list)

Description:  Made in Bretagne, France.  From 100% pure apple juice (Not from concentrate).  Naturally Gluten Free.  All-natural.  No added sugar.  6% abv.

AVAL means Apple in Breton, the traditional language in Bretagne, the region where it comes from, that’s had more than 1000 years experience in making cider and is touted by insiders as the best cider region in the world.

AVAL cider combines five types of apples exclusively from the region, giving the drink a crisp and citrusy taste. It’s the perfect balance between subtle sweetness and refreshing bitterness.

Price:  $8.85
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland OR
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I picked this up on my trip for Cider Rite of Spring (see here).  However, I ended up trying a sample of it (see here) before I got around to opening the bottle I bought.

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First Impression:  Still (no carbonation).  Deep orange amber.  Smells of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low bitterness, especially on the finish.  Low tannins.  Hints of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apple juice and pomace, yeast, brown sugar, orange, and must.  Quick finish.  Low complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High apple flavor.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it tasted flat, like it had been left sitting open (vs. supposed to be still), but the cork was intact.  I also thought it could have used less bitter of a finish.

Most Similar to:  Loic Raison 1923 Brut

Closing Notes:  Some of my favorite French cidres remain Celt, Dan Armor, and Le Brun, especially once you factor in cost.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche

Review of Domaine du Verger’s Rosé Cidre Bouche, a French cider made with some red-fleshed apples to give it a rosé hue.  It is my first time trying this cider and anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Rosé Cidre Bouche
Cidery:  Domaine du Verger
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  2.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style:  French rosé doux/sweet cidre from French cider apples, including red-fleshed varieties

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Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  100% apple juice from 90% bittersweet apples and 10% bitter apples. The pink coloration is natural from the adjunction of a specific variety of apple with red flesh named : Baya Marisa.  To make a cider “doux /sweet” the alcoholic fermentation is shorten to about 5 weeks leaving higher natural residual sugar and resulting of a lower alcohol content. It is then followed by a filtration and an adjunction of Co2 for carbonation. 

The bittersweet apple varieties are from Brittany France and the bitter apple varieties are from Normandy France.

Cidery Description:  Since 1983 the Val de Rance cooperative has brought together the cider-making experience of 300 passionate local growers from Brittany. After recent investments, the cooperative has expanded and modernised its equipment. Today, Val de Rance represents over a 1,000 acres of orchards, producing ten to fifteen thousand tons of apples each year.

The cider from Domaine du Verger is produced from 100% apple juice. All the apples are harvested 90% from Brittany (bitter-sweet) region and 10% from Normandy (bitter). After being cleaned, the apples are gently crushed; they are then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, and carefully filtered with the addition of Co2 for the carbonation.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was the first time I had seen the brand, and the first time I had seen a rosé French cidre.

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First Impression:  Light rosé hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells mildly fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium bodied, with a fluffy frothy texture.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of strawberry, white grape, and pomegranate.  Low apple flavor.  Low complexity.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked the flavor, and loved the higher carbonation and texture.  However, it was sweeter, lower ABV, and more juice-like than I prefer.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had several ciders from red-fleshed apples, including Alpenfire Glow, Alpenfire Cinders, and Snowdrift Red.  This was quite different than any of those ciders, and quite different than any of the French ciders I’ve had.  It tasted more like a cider from American dessert apples which was back sweetened with a lot of fruit juice, then highly carbonated.

Closing Notes:  Rosé (grape) wine is from blush grapes.  For cider, it typically refers to red-fleshed apples.  Here is a nice article on rosé cider.  Cidre Bouche literally means “cider with a cork”; many French ciders are named as such.

Have you tried Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche?  What did you think?

Clos des Ducs French Cidre

Review of Clos des Ducs, a French cider.  It is my first time trying this one, although I’m a fan of French cider.

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Cider:  Premium Hard Cider
Cidery:  Clos des Ducs
Cidery Location:  Brittany, France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles (and 330ml bottles)
Style:  commercial French cidre

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Availability:  wide release

Description:  A traditional farmstead product, made with a blend of sweet, tart, dry, and bitter apples.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve seen it before but never tried it for whatever reason.

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First Impression:  Medium orange amber.  Low carbonation and foam.  Smells of sweet concentrated apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness.  Low acidity.  No bitterness, funk, or sourness.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of primarily apple juice concentrate (concentrated overly “appley” flavor), with hints of orange & honey.  Quick finish length.  Very high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Very low complexity.

My Opinion:  I wasn’t too impressed with this one.  However, if you like a very sweet, apple juice forward, and easy to drink cider, you may enjoy it.  They also offer a pear variety.

Most Similar to:  Other French ciders, although this is sweeter than any other one I’ve had, less carbonated, less yeast-forward, and more commercial tasting (less complex).  This one doesn’t have as many of the characteristics I’ve come to associate with French cidre.  For an easy drinking French cidre, I think I’ll stick with Celt and Dan Armor.

Closing Notes:  I should have read the Nutrition Facts on this one before purchase, as 16g of sugar per 8oz is well over what I prefer.

Have you tried Clos des Ducs?  What did you think?

L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut

Review of L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut, a sparkling Farmhouse style cider from Normandy France.  It is my first time trying this one, although I’m a fan of French cidre.

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Cider:  Cidre Brut
Cidery:  Cidrerie L’Hermitiére
Cidery Location:  Le Theil-sur-Huisne, France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  French cidre

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Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  Cidrerie L’Hermitière Cidre Brut is lively and complex, with the delicate aroma of ripe apples, leather, and freshly mown hay.

Cidery Description:  This cidrerie, which sits among the rolling hills of the Perche region of Normandy, makes only pure juice ciders in the farmhouse style, that ferment naturally and are bottled without any pasteurization or carbonation – a prime example of the ancestral cider-making process.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had never seen cider from this cidery.

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<sorry the label got soaked when it decided to bubble over!>

First Impression:  Medium pumpkin amber hue.  Very high carbonation.  Smells apple and yeast forward, with some funk and hints of honey.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied with a frothy texture and very carbonated mouthfeel.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of apples, apple pomace, yeast, honey, orange, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  High apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it, with the flavor of a Normandy France cider without the sourness, and without too much funk, plus the higher carbonation level more typical of Brittany France cider, yet more complexity/depth.

Most Similar to:  A milder Normandy France cider.

Closing Notes:  I’m a big fan of French cider (as long as it isn’t sour).  They can be surprisingly affordable too.  Someday I want to go to France and try the less commercial stuff (as I assume that similar to the U.S., the large producers are the ones that have the wider distribution).

Have you tried L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut?  What did you think?

Loic Raison Brut

Review of Loic Raison 1923 Brut, a French cidre.  Its my first time trying this one, although I’ve tried a number of other French ciders.

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Cider:  Brut
Cidery:  Loic Raison
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  French cidre

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Availability:  wide release

Description:  I couldn’t find one.  Note that Brut simply means dry (although at 5 grams of sugar per 8oz this isn’t completely dry).

Price:  $10.49
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  This is one of the major French cidre brands and commonly available in the U.S.

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First Impression:  Deep orange amber.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of bittersweet apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Simple flavor notes, just apple juice and yeast.  Quick finish.  High apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  This was nice and definitely easy to drink, but it tasted flat (like it used to have higher carbonation) and overly juice-like.  I’d rather pay half as much and pick up some Dan Armor at Trader Joe’s, or better yet, as it is in single serve bottles, Celt.

Most Similar to:  Dan Armor and Celt, which are also both Brittany France cidre varieties.  They have a very similar flavor profile to Loic Raison, but a higher carbonation and lower cost.

Closing Notes:  I’m a fan of Brittany more than Normandy France cidres,  Brittany cidres are typically apple & yeast forward, clean (no funk or sourness), and have a higher carbonation level.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Le Brun Organic Cidre

Review of Le Brun Organic Cidre.  I’ve tried this previously on tap (the only cider I’ve tried from Le Brun), but wanted to give a bottle a go.

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Cider:  Organic Cidre
Cidery:  Le Brun
Cidery Location:  Plovan in the Brittany region of France
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  Brittany French cidre, organic, secondary fermented

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Availability:  semi wide release (imported by Winesellers Ltd., Niles IL)

Cider Description:  This cider presents lightly sweet, fruit and then develops to be more dry as the taste goes on.  Tannins feel fairly high, acidity is moderate and a fairly bitter/sharp to end, with a mild hint of wood in the aftertaste.  This cider has a juicy feel to it, but also has depth and character.

Apple Varieties: Kermerrien, Marie Ménard, Douce Moên, Peau de Chien, Douce Coëtligné

Cidery Description:  Le Brun Cidres have been produced in Brittany, France since 1955.  our cidres are made using the traditional method of natural fermentation of pure pressed juices from handpicked apples

Price:  $10.99
Where Bought:  The Wine Seller in Port Townsend WA, which had a nice cider selection for a small shop, including this one (which I haven’t seen locally lately) and a couple others I hadn’t even seen in Seattle (I picked up one other bottle too)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Amber orange hue.  Moderate carbonation with foam upon pouring.  Smells of rich apples with hints of funk and must.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, funk, and tannins.  No sourness or bitterness.  Notes of bittersweet apples, apple juice, apple pomace, orange, floral, and must.  Moderate length finish.  High apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  I’m a fan of Brittany France ciders in general too (but not typically Normandy France ciders, which tend to have sourness).  However, I remember it tasting more clean (no funk) when I tried it on tap, which I prefer.

Most Similar to:  Other ciders from Brittany France, such as Celt and Dan Armor, which I think I slightly prefer, and are both more affordable too ($8 for a four pack of 11.2oz bottles of Celt and $5 for a 750ml bottle of Dan Armor – only sold at Trader Joe’s).

Closing Notes:   This is a nice selection from Le Brun.  I hope I can find their other varieties locally to try (I know at least a couple others get imported).

Have you tried French Cidre?  What did you think?