Herout AOC Cotentin Extra-Brut

Review of Herout AOC Cotentin Extra-Brut.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery, but I have had many other French cidres.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Beauchamp Imports / French Cider Inc.  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.<<

Cider: Cotentin Extra-Brut
Cidery:  Herout AOC
Cidery Location:  Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, France
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  Organic French cidre, from cider apples, extra-brut (dry)

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Availability:  In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online at their French Cider Inc. website.  In addition to Cotentin Extra-Brut, they also offer Herout’s Cotentin Brut.

Cider Description:  This organic, extra-brut cidre is one of the only extra-brut cidres available from Normandy. Because it is produced in a maritime climate, it goes perfectly with seafood, especially fresh oysters. Cidre Cotentin is made from 100% naturally fermented cidre apple juice. Because Cidre Cotentin is not pasteurized, the natural fermentation process will continue after bottling for at least another two months.

See here for more information on the cider.

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 just 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).

See here for more information on the cidery.

Price:  n/a (retails for $19.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer Joan Harkins contacted me (we met at Cider Summit Seattle 2017)

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First Impression:  Light orange amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of funk with a hint of apple.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low bitterness.  Moderate funk.  Hints of sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, ripe apple, yeast, orange peel, leather, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, this one is not one of my favorite French cidres.  However, that is only because my personal preference is slightly sweeter and more flavorful than this, with less funk and sourness.  This one had more characteristics of a Normandy cider (funk and sourness) than a lot of the other French ciders I’ve tried in the last month or so.  Due to that, it is not quite as beginner friendly.

Most Similar to:  Cidrerie Daufresne BrutDomaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio BrutL’Hermitiére Cidre Brut, and Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer

Closing Notes:  If you are a fan of drier ciders, this is about as dry as it gets for a French cider!

Have you tried Herout cidre?  What did you think?

Pierre Huet AOC Pays D’Auge Cidre

Review of Pierre Huet AOC Pays D’Auge Cidre.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had Pierre Huet’s Cidre Bouche Brut, as well as many other French cidres.

By the way, AOC means “Appellation of Origin Control”, which is a certification distinction guaranteeing the individual product is produced in a unique way, and comes from a clearly defined place of origin.  It began with wine, but is also used for a variety of other products.  Pierre Huet is an old cidre AOC in France, and the original M. Pierre Huet was instrumental in getting the AOC recognized after WWII, in 1944.  Also, AOP, or “Appellation d’Origine Protégée”, is the EU version of an AOC.  Therefore some ciders can even have both.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Beauchamp Imports / French Cider Inc.  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.<<

Cider:  Pays D’Auge Cidre
Cidery:  Pierre Huet AOC
Cidery Location:  Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  3.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  French cidre, from cider apples, demi-sec, bottle conditioned

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Availability:  In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online at their French Cider Inc. website.  In addition to Pays D’Auge Cider, they also offer Pierre Huet’s Poire Demi-Sec, Cidre Bouche BrutCalvados AOC Pays d’Auge VS, and Calvados AOC Pays d’Auge XO.

Cider Description:  This Cidre AOP Pays D’Auge is an unpasteurized demi-sec cidre from the appellation d’origine protégée in the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy. It is a traditional French cidre produced using the time-honored methods required by the Pays D’Auge . The 100% pure apple juice is fermented between one to four months to achieve the perfect semi-sweet flavor before being bottled. The second fermentation occurs naturally in the bottle.

See here for more information on the cider.

Cidery Description:  Pierre Huet is a 5th generation family-owned cidery who has been producing cidre, Calvados, and Pommeau since the 1800s in the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy France.  They grow 25 varieties of apples on 75 acres.

See here for more information on the cidery.

Price:  n/a (retails for $19.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer Joan Harkins contacted me (we met at Cider Summit Seattle 2017)

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First Impression:  Light orange amber.  Moderate carbonation and foam.  Smells of ripe apple, funk, and orange.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied with a lovely frothy fluffy texture.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Low funk.  No sourness.  Notes of ripe apples, pomace, orange, caramel, and leather.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I especially enjoyed the texture and flavor of this cider.  It has some definite Normandy cidre characteristics, but with low funk and no sourness, it remains more beginner friendly.  Plus, with the low ABV, it made a great cider to sip on during the day of Thanksgiving!  It would also be ideal for brunch and the like.  However, it is a tad more pricey than some other French ciders which I thought were of a similar flavor and quality.

Most Similar to:  Manoir de Grandouet AOP Pays d’Auge CidreManoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut,  L’Hermitiére Cidre BrutManoir De Montreuil Cambremer, and Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge.

Closing Notes:  I will also be reviewing two other imports from French Cider Inc.Hérout Cotentin Extra-Brut and Lefevre Winter Cidre.

Have you tried Pierre Huet cidre?  What did you think?

Cidrerie Daufresne Brut

Review of Cidrerie Daufresne Brut, a French cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Poire (perry).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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.<<

Cider:  Brut
Cidery:  Cidrerie Daufresne
Cidery Location:  Normandy, France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  Norman French cider

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Manoir de Grandouet, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Le Brun from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.

Cider Description:  This cider has a beautiful robe with green reflections and a very fine effervescence. The finesse and freshness of the nose are expressed by aromas of ripe apples with notes of spices and sweetness. On the palate, the perfect balance of residual sugar and acidity from the aging on lees creates an explosion of freshness.

Cidery Description:  Located in the heart of the Pays d’Auge, at the gates of Lisieux, we can discover the area of ​​5 D, with its cider house at the foot of the orchards hills, formerly called the Pré des Vignes, in reference to the vines formerly exploited on this parcel.  It is this beautiful south-facing exhibition that prompted Philippe Daufresne to plant his orchard in the 60s, instead of the old vines, for the production of his cider and calvados.  For 4 years, retirement requires, the domain was taken over by Ghislaine Davy, who is resolutely committed to a quality and elegance approach.  To develop the different cider products, 150 tons of apples are brewed each year on the estate.

The apples come from the orchards of the cider house but also from the different orchards around, which multiplies all the varieties used: Germaine, Blangy cemetery, red binet, bisquet, St Martin, Christmas fields, President descourt, windmill, mettais, rambault, and many others…  In order to give each product a balanced aromatic bouquet, the varieties are carefully selected to find the right balance between the freshness of tart apples, the delicacy of sweet apples, and the corpus of bitter apples.  The Daufrresne cider is a must at the tables of the Côte Fleurie. Well known to the Parisian resort clientele, he is regularly awarded at the Paris General Competition, with this latest gold medal at the Paris 2017 general competition.

Price:  n/a (retails for $12)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me

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First Impression:  Low to moderate carbonation with some foam.  Light to moderate amber hue.  Smells very mild, almost of nothing.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apple pomace, orange, and caramel.  Long finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor and sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, compared to some of the other French ciders I have tried recently, it was less flavorful (possibly as it was a bit drier).  I’d recommend this for folks who are more sensitive to funk (as it barely had any, which was unexpected for a Normandy cider) and/or who like a drier cider.

Most Similar to:  Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio BrutL’Hermitiére Cidre Brut, and Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer

Closing Notes:  Of the five French ciders I tried from Winesellers, Ltd.’s lineup, Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Doux and Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut were my favorites.  Of the two perries, Le Brun Poire was my favorite (over Cidrerie Daufresne Poire).

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Manoir de Grandouet AOP Pays d’Auge Cidre

Review of Manoir de Grandouet AOP Pays d’Auge Cidre.  It is my first time trying this one, but I previously tried Manoir de Grandouet’s Cidre Fermier Brut and have tried many other French ciders, such as these.

Photo Oct 31, 3 34 43 PM.jpg

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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.<<

Cider:  AOP Pays d’Auge Cidre
Cidery:  Manoir de Grandouet
Cidery Location:  Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  Norman French cidre

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Le Brun, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.  Or, if you are lucky enough to live in France, the Grandouet cidery’s website has a cider locator.

Cider Description:  This bottle conditioned, AOP Pays d’Auge cidre is made in the most traditional cidre-making process.  As a result, it is a very complex and natural product with aromas of baked apples, pears and other white stone fruit supported by complex notes of barnyard with dried herbs and leather.  It presents a very slight bitterness and crisp acidity that helps dry out the cider on the finish.

Cidery Description:  Grandouet is located in the heart of Pays d’Auge at 2 km from the village of Cambremer on the “Route du Cidre”. The terroir and the climate make it a privileged site for cider products.  In this typical farm of the Pays d’Auge, dedicated to apple and milk AOC, the production remains faithful to the traditions and know-how transmitted to the Grandval family for three generations.

It is amazing how old and generational many French cideries are!  Their website has more info on their family cidermaking history (it is in French, but the Chrome browser at least has a translate option, at the right side of the web address area).

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $13)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me

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First Impression:  Light orange amber hue.  High carbonation with foam.  Smells of funk, must, and a hint of sweet bittersweet apple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied with a fluffy fizzy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low funk.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apple pomace and juice, orange, caramel, leather, earth, and must.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I wish I would have tasted this side by side with their Cidre Fermier Brut though, as with my notes from a couple weeks ago, I’m not identifying too many differences between the two.  This one may be a bit smoother and less bitter.

Most Similar to:  Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut,  L’Hermitiére Cidre BrutManoir De Montreuil Cambremer, and Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge.

Closing Notes:  I have one more French cider from Winesellers, Ltd. left to try.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Brut

Review of Domaine de la Minotiere’s Cidre Fermier Bio Brut.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had the Doux version of this cider, plus many other French ciders, such as these.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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.<<

Cider:  Cidre Fermier Bio Brut 2015
Cidery:  Domaine de la Minotiere
Cidery Location:  Normandy, France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  Norman French cidre, Organic, Brut (which means dry)

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Manoir de Grandouet, Le Brun, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.

Cider Description:  This organic farmhouse-style cider has a crisp, fresh, apple bouquet, with mix of citrus peel and musty floral notes, and fruity aromas of apricot and citrus fruits. A brisk, refined finish that lingers on the palate.

Cidery Description:  Domaine de la Minotiere is a small 15-hectare single domaine of cidre orchards cultivated under 100% organic certification. The specialty is traditional farmhouse cidre produced both in a dry (Brut) and sweet (Doux) style. The Domaine de la Minotiere owns a long tradition and elaboration of farmhouse cider coming from the fruit of its orchards, in a place called the “Golden Triangle” – known to be the best area to produce cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $12)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me

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First Impression:  Light orange amber hue.  High carbonation and moderate foam.  Smells mild, of French cidre from bittersweet apples, with a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied with a frothy texture.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of apple pomace and juice, yeast, green apple, orange, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor and sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  However, I preferred the Doux version of this cider, which likely due to the additional sweetness, was more flavorful.  This was surprisingly dry for a Brut, but their Doux was also drier than I expected.  Its a good option for folks who think most French cidres are too sweet.  It also had a bit more light fruitiness than richness, and was much lower in funk than their Doux version.  This did however have an extra 2% ABV over their Doux version,

Most Similar to:  Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Doux, Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut, and L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (very much so, although this is drier than all three of those), Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer, and Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge

Closing Notes:  Its pretty cool that that both the Doux and Brut versions of this are Organic, which you don’t see much in cider, especially at this price point!

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Doux

Review of Domaine de la Minotiere’s Cidre Fermier Bio Doux.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had many French ciders, such as these.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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.<<

Cider:  Cidre Fermier Bio Doux 2015
Cidery:  Domaine de la Minotiere
Cidery Location:  Normandy, France
ABV:  3.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  Norman French cidre, Organic, Doux (which means sweet)

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Manoir de Grandouet, Le Brun, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.

Cider Description:  This cider is full-bodied and slightly sweet, with subtle apple character and a beautiful balance of acid, tannin, and sugar. It has a mix of citrus peel, fruity aromas of apricot and citrus fruit, and musty floral notes.

Cidery Description:  Domaine de la Minotiere is a small 15-hectare single domaine of cidre orchards cultivated under 100% organic certification. The specialty is traditional farmhouse cidre produced both in a dry (Brut) and sweet (Doux) style. The Domaine de la Minotiere owns a long tradition and elaboration of farmhouse cider coming from the fruit of its orchards, in a place called the “Golden Triangle” – known to be the best area to produce cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $12)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of funk and apple pomace.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied and frothy.  Low tartness, acidity, tannins, and funk.  No bitterness or sourness.  Notes of apple pomace and juice, yeast, earth, caramel, and green apple.  The main flavor of the cider dissipates fairly quickly, but a very light apple pomace flavor really lingers.  High apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I was expecting this to be very sweet, but was pleasantly surprised.  I loved the flavor profile.  Similar to Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut, the funk/barnyard scent was quite strong, but didn’t transfer much to the flavor, and dissipated over time.  It was also similar to the Grandouet in how the ripe apple yeasty funky characteristics of the Norman cider were expressed without any perceived sourness (yay!), and that it was more rich than fruity.  This cider is also an excellent value for being imported and Organic.

Most Similar to:  Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut and L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (very much so, although this is sweeter than both of those), Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer, and Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge

Closing Notes:  It seems odd to have a cider with only 3% ABV, but that is fairly common in France (some are even lower!).  I found a post online of someone recommending this as a brunch cider, and I totally agree.  They also have a drier (Brut) version of this cider that is 5% ABV, which I also plan to try.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut

Review of Manoir de Grandouet Cidre Fermier Brut.  It is my first time trying this one, but French cidre isn’t new to me; here are some of the ones I’ve tried.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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.<<

Cider:  Cidre Fermier Brut
Cidery:  Manoir de Grandouet
Cidery Location:  Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  Norman French cidre, Brut (which means “dry”, but for French cider is typically semi-dry ish, vs. the sweeter “doux”)

Photo Oct 17, 4 43 09 PM Photo Oct 17, 4 43 21 PM

Do you ever notice how French cidery and cidre names all seem to sound the same, and often even the labels look the same?  I have a tough time remembering which ones I’ve tried!  Having a list has definitely come in handy.

Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Le Brun, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.  Or, if you are lucky enough to live in France, the Grandouet cidery’s website has a cider locator.

Cider Description:  After a long and slow fermentation of about 5 months, the cider is bottled and kept in our cellars for more than a year. It develops tannic, smoked and slightly leather aromas.  Lovers of traditional cider will appreciate this cider of character, rustic and drier.  Yellow-orange, it has a slight bitterness which makes it a thirst quenching cider.  This cider can be enjoyed during a meal, accompanied by dishes (meats, fish, seafood) or Norman cheeses (Camembert of Normandy AOP, Pont-L’Evêque PDO and Livarot PDO).  It can also be enjoyed in kir, with a cream of fruits (raspberry, blackberry, blackcurrant).

Cidery Description:  Grandouet is located in the heart of Pays d’Auge at 2 km from the village of Cambremer on the “Route du Cidre”. The terroir and the climate make it a privileged site for cider products.  In this typical farm of the Pays d’Auge, dedicated to apple and milk AOC, the production remains faithful to the traditions and know-how transmitted to the Grandval family for three generations.

It is amazing how old and generational many French cideries are!  Their website has more info on their family cidermaking history (it is in French, but the Chrome browser at least has a translate option, at the right side of the web address area).

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $11)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me (I previously reviewed their Dunkertons cider)

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First Impression:  Moderate orange amber hue.  Moderate carbonation and high foam.  Smells of funky ripe yeasty French apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied, with a very frothy fluffy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins, bitterness, and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of ripe cooked bittersweet apples and pomace, residual yeast, orange, butterscotch, and earth/smoke.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I loved how the ripe apple yeasty funky characteristics of Norman cider were expressed without any perceived sourness, which can be common (such as in Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche).  I liked that this was more rich than fruity.  It would make a great introduction to Normandy cider for someone who had only tried the easier to drink Breton ciders from Brittany France (which are typically completely clean, ie. free of funk and sourness, plus often sweeter).  The funk in this cider was primarily in the scent, and subsided a bit over time, so if you find funk off-putting (like my husband), I’d recommend pouring the cider and letting it sit a bit before drinking.  The level of sweetness was spot-on for me.  It was quite frothy though, which slowed me down a bit while drinking it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Most Similar to: L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (very much so), Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer, and Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge, or for a rare U.S. made French-style cider, 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got to try this cider, as I’m not sure if it is available locally.  I have several other French ciders from the importer/distributor to try next, including another from this same cidery.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – 2016 Vintage

This review is of 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche, a French-style keeved cider.  This is their second release of this cider, the 2016 vintage (see my review here of the 2015 vintage).  I’ve also tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (see here).

Keeving is a special labor intensive process of fermenting the cider slowly, starving it of natural nutrients.  It results in an apple-forward, naturally sweet, lower ABV, and higher carbonation cider.  This is typical for French cidre, but is very rare in the U.S.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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.<<

Cider:  Traditions Cidre Bouche
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  375ml (12.7oz) fancy single bottles
Style:  American craft French style cider, keeved, from cider apples, oak cask aged

Photo Oct 06, 11 00 50 AM Photo Oct 06, 11 01 00 AMPhoto Oct 06, 11 01 10 AM

Availability:  Limited (310 cases of 12 bottles), although 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Inspired by the bittersweet ciders of France, Cidre Bouche is made using an old-world process called keeving.  Starting with 100% traditional cider varieties like Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Pommes, Dabinett, and Muscat de Lense, we let the fruit ‘sweat’ and intensify in aroma.  The apples are crushed and left to soak on the skins before the juice is fermented slowly over the course of a tear in French oak casks.  When finished, this keeved cider is rich, thick, and brimming with overripe bittersweet apple character.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $10)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Moderate amber hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells of sweet ripe French bittersweet cider apple juice, yeast, and a predominant funk / barnyard.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low funk.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness.  Notes of rich ripe bittersweet cider apple juice and pomace, yeast, caramel, and orange.  Low oak influence.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I really enjoyed it.  The flavor was amazingly bold and rich, it remained free of sourness (which I’m not a fan of), and the funk added a bit of complexity but remained primarily in the scent.

Most Similar to:  French cidres with a bit of funk but no sourness, such as Christian Drouin Pays d’AugeL’Hermitiére Cidre Brut, and Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer

Closing Notes:   I think this release was significantly better than last year’s version, and if I was tasting it blind, I would have guessed it was made in France, not Oregon!  2 Towns has really mastered their keeving technique.  Its pretty cool to see a U.S. cidermaker use this old world French process.  We may see more keeved ciders, especially in the Northwest, as the NW Cider Association took a group of cidermakers (using grant money) to France and England to learn about keeving in May/June 2017; see here.

However, the price is a bit high (although understandable due to the high cost of cider apples in the U.S., and that this was a very labor intensive and relatively small batch release).  Many imported French cidres cost less per ounce.  By the way, my favorite budget-friendly French cider is Dan Armor, only $5 / 750ml (only at Trader Joe’s).  It is more simplistic (less complex) that this one however.  I’m not sure if U.S. cideries will ever be able to compete with those sorts of prices on ciders from bittersweet cider apples.

Have you tried 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche?  What did you think?

Florence Loisel Cidre Breton “Gosne”

Review of Florence Loisel Cidre Breton “Gosne”, from Brittany France.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery, but I’ve tried a number of other French cidres (like these).

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Cider:  “Gosne”
Cidery:  Florence Loisel
Cidery Location:  Noyal sur Vilaine, Brittany, France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  French cidre

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Availability:  semi wide release, imported by Petit Monde Wine Merchant

Description:  none given, besides that this is a Brut (dry) French apple cider

Price:  $10
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland OR
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  This was one of the many ciders I picked up when I was there for Cider Rite of Spring (see here).

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First Impression:  Light yellow amber hue.  Moderate to high carbonation.  Smells apple-forward, acidic & fruity, with a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of heirloom, crab, & green apples, lemon, stone fruit, pineapple, and mineral.  Moderate length finish, mostly lingering carbonation on the palette.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it – drier than most French cidres (it actually held true to the “Brut” label), and fruity (no significant cider apple flavor or richness).

Most Similar to:  The flavor notes and carbonation were similar to Bertolinos (from Italy), but that was less acidic and slightly sweeter.  Also, E.Z. Orchards Roman Beauty, Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront, Snowdrift Cliffbreaks Blend, Scandinavian Green Apple Cider, and Dragon’s Head Columbia Crab.

Closing Notes:  This is one of the most unusual French cidres I’ve tried – it strayed from the typical course, but the flavor was nice – a perfect cider for warm weather.  I found it more “American” than French style though.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

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?

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?

Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer

Review of Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer, a cidre from Normandy France (and yes I’m very glad I only need to spell it correctly, not try to pronounce it!).  I’m typically more of a fan of Breton than Normand French cidres, but the reviews of this one caught my interest.

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Cider:  Cambremer
Cidery:  Manoir De Montreuil
Cidery Location:  Cidre Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  4.5% or 5.0% (the front & back labels contradicted themselves)
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  keeved Normand French cidre

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Availability:  semi wide release, international

Description:  The Giard family has been producing Calvados in the Pays d’Auge for 11 generations. The Domaine du Montreuil orchard was planted on land formerly covered by the sea, hence its distinctive mineral flavor. They produce this cider in vats that are more than a century old, so you’re getting the classic, traditional-style cider of this region, although it is not too funky. Rustic yes, delicious yes, authentic yes, expensive no.

Price:  $10.75
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’m a fan of sweet, bubbly, and rich French ciders, and after looking this one up, it sounded like I’d enjoy it.

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First Impression:  Pale caramel amber hue.  Moderate to high carbonation and foam.  Smells yeasty and a bit funky, although fairly simple–mainly of baked apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Frothy mouthfeel/texture.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, funk, and tannins.  No sourness or bitterness.  Notes of yeast, baked apple, honey, and caramel.  Quick finish length.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  The taste of this cider seemed quite in between typical Breton (Brittany) and Normand (Normandy) French ciders.  It had the sweetness and approachability of a Breton cider, with a bit of funk of a Normand cider.  It avoided the sourness and strong funk of some other Normand ciders I’ve tried though. I don’t mind a bit of funk (often referred to as “barnyard” flavor), but I haven’t yet acquired the taste for sour ciders.  Surprisingly my husband was much more put off by the scent of it than I was.

Most Similar to:  Other French ciders.  It reminds me a lot of Celt, with a bit of funk and more yeast.

Closing Notes:   This was a unique and enjoyable cider.  It showed me that not all Normand ciders are strongly sour, funky, and dry.

Have you tried any French ciders?  What did you think?