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?

Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidré Poire

Review of Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidré Poire, a French perry (made entirely from pears, no apples).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve previously tried Dan Armor’s cidre.  I’ve also sampled some other French poires:  Christian Drouin PoireDomaine Pacory Poire Domfront, and Eric Bordelet Poire Authentique (plus an American French-style poire,  E.Z. Orchards Poire).

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Cider:  Poire
Cidery:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidré
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  French Poire (perry)

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Availability:  wide release at Trader Joe’s, since early 2017 (imported by Lattitude Wines, Danville CA)

Cider Description:  Cider made from fresh pears grown in the northwest of France, slowly fermented to create refreshing aromas and sweet flavors.  No sugar was added to this well-balanced cider and it is gluten-free.

Price:  $4.99
Where Bought:  Trader Joe’s
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had previously tried Dan Armor’s cider, and saw this for the first time.  At $5 it was an easy buy.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of syrupy sweet pear.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet (15g sugar / 8oz).  Medium to full bodied, with a smooth, creamy, and fizzy texture.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of canned pear, dried pear, and hints of pineapple & floral.  High pear flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  However, it was definitely on the commercial and easy to drink side, with less complexity than the other poires I’ve had (which admittedly have been from top cidermakers and high end prices to match).

Most Similar to:  Christian Drouin Poire (also semi-sweet and very pear-forward, but slightly more refined tasting and complex)

Closing Notes / random thoughts:   (1) Perry has significant unfermentable sugars, so even if completely fermented, it remains significant residual sugar (vs. cider, which with the right yeast will ferment to zero residual sugar).  Therefore you won’t see a dry perry.  Most are semi-sweet.  (2) Here in the U.S., typically the word perry should only be used if the beverage is only made from pears, and the term pear cider if it is an apple cider with pear juice.  However, often pear ciders are mistakenly called perries.  (3) I typically prefer French-style Poire to American perry.  Probably as many of the American perries I’ve had have been funky, and poire often has a really nice texture and complexity while remaining clean.  There have been a handful of American perries I have enjoyed though, like Locust Seckel Perry, Snowdrift Seckel Perry, and fruity perries from Pear UP (formerly NV Cider).

Have you tried French perry (poire)?  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?

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?