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?

Virtue Lapinette

Review of Virtue Lapinette, described as a French Brut style cidre aged in French oak barrels.  It is my first time trying it, although I’ve had their Mitten and Cherry Mitten.

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Cider:  Lapinette
Cidery:  Virtue
Cidery Location:  Fennville MI
ABV:  6.8%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American French-style barrel aged cider

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Availability:  DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, WA, and WI (per this diagram)

Cider Description:  This Norman-style cidre brut is fermented with French yeast and patiently aged for months French oak.
Lapinette offers a complex nose of both farm and barrel, with a refreshingly dry, mineral finish.

Cidery Description:  Virtue is a craft cider company launched in 2011 in Fennville, Michigan, by Gregory Hall, former brewmaster at Goose Island, and co-founder Stephen Schmakel. Our mission is to make European-style ciders from fresh heirloom apples — never from concentrate — and employ traditional farmhouse production methods that include native and secondary fermentation, use of wild yeasts, and an expansive oak barrel-aging program. We partner with local family farms by purchasing the highest quality apples for our ciders.

They have a tasting room in Fennville.

Price:  $10.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  This was a good deal, I hadn’t tried it, and it appeared to be a style I’d like (French), so I bought it.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of green apple, white grape, and must.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low funk and bitterness.  Hints of sourness and tannins.  Notes of green apple, white grape, lemon, yeast, and mineral.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Moderate sessionability and complexity.

My Opinion:  I was expecting a full on French-style cider, the typical apple-forward type (although if I had looked at photos of the cider online I would have known better just based on the color).  However, this is more of a Farmhouse-style cider, with astringency, heirloom apple flavor, citrus notes, and some sourness & funk.  This was nice (I especially liked how juicy the flavor was) and well made, but not a style I enjoy.

Most Similar to:  Millstone Farmgate Dry and WildCraft Dry

Closing Notes:  I hope to try more ciders from Virtue in the future.

Have you tried Virtue Lapinette?  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?

2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – 2015 Vintage

Review of 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche, a French-style keeved cider.  This is one of two ciders which they released to start off their new Traditions line.  Their Traditions line will replace their separate Traditions brand and focus on barrel aged vintage cider from heirloom apples.  The other is Riverwood, which I’ll be reviewing next.  Two others will soon be released, Afton Field and La Mûre.  Its my first time trying this cider, although I’ve 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 bottles
Style:  American craft French keeved style cider from heirloom apples, oak aged

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Availability:  Limited (only 240 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:  Oregon grown bittersweet heirloom apples.  Old world keeving method.  Aged in French oak casks….Inspired by the bittersweet ciders of France, Cidre Bouché is made with an Old World process called keeving. We start with 100% traditional cider apple varieties like Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Pommes, Dabinett and Muscat de Lense, and then let the fruit ‘sweat’ and intensify in aroma. Next, the apples are crushed and left to soak on the skins before the juice is fermented slowly over the course of a year, and aged in French oak casks. When finished, this keeved cider is rich, thick and brimming with overripe bittersweet apple character. Pairs well with classic French fare— think savory crepes, pork terrine, camembert and blue cheese.

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
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy medium orange amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells slightly funky and apple forward.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acid.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of sourness and bitterness.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, apple pomace, honey, orange, grapefruit, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it, and thought it paired well with Thanksgiving dinner.  It got a bit funkier as it warmed up, so I preferred it cold.  I’m a fan of these sorts of bold and rich ciders, and of (not too funky or sour) French cidre.

Most Similar to:  French cidre.  It definitely seemed true to the style, in between Normandy and Brittany French cidre as it was a bit funky (as Normandy cidre can tend to be), but not overly so.  However, it was a bit higher acidity and more fruity though (although the grapefruit I picked up might have been more from the high acidity than anything else), which was a nice twist.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to trying the other ciders in their new Traditions line.  I think they made a great choice to release them in smaller 375ml bottles, as it will reduce the price point and increase the number of bottles available.  I also think the switch to keep these under their 2 Towns brand but in a separate category was a smart move.

Have you tried 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche?  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?

Le Pere Jules Brut

Review of Le Pere Jules’ Brut 2012 cider, from Normandie France.

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Cider:  Brut
Cidery:  Le Pere Jules
Cidery Location:  Normandie France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  French cidre

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Availability:  Semi-wide release (apparently one of the easier to find French ciders in the U.S.)

Cider Description:  Our cider is produced from no less than 20 different varieties of apples. This gives it a very nice balance between the sweet, bitter and acidic varieties. After a fermentation process that is modified in its length to produce the “brut”, “demi-sec” and “doux” varieties, and a light filtration, it is bottled in order to naturally develop its own natural gas. This gives it the fine bubbles that we are known for.

Cidery Description:  It was upon his return from the First World War in 1919 that Jules Desfrièches – who had already earned the nickname of “Père” Jules or “Father” Jules – with a love for his region and its apples, decided to turn his passion into his trade. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by his grandparents, who were themselves in love with Normandy and its treasures. With their help, Jules learned to make cider with the apples from the family farm. He then started to sell his products locally. Due to the appreciation for its quality, the “Jules Desfrièches” cider was more and more in demand in restaurants in Normandy. Then in 1923, Jules distilled Calvados for the first time, without knowing that it was the beginning of an institution.  

In 1949 his son, Léon Desfrièches, joined the family business. On his arrival, he created the brand “Le Père Jules,” in honor of his father. The production continued to expand and the market for cider and calvados developed to the point of being sold in some of the best restaurants in France.  Thierry Desfrièches, the grandson of “Père”Jules joined his father in the business in 1976. With a careful eye on the business and its evolution, the first export sales were started in 1980 in Europe and then later throughout the world.  The son of Thierry, Guillaume Desfrièches, joined the family business after he finished his studies in oenology in 2002 to become the fourth generation in the affair.  Since 1919, quality and rigor are the driving forces of four generations of producers that have continued to be faithful to the traditional methods with a love for their work. Their only wish is to be able to propose the best products.

Price:  ~$12
Where Bought:  World Market
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I hadn’t spotted it at World Market before, only commercial cider (although apparently other World Market locations carry craft cider), and was intrigued as I’ve been getting into French ciders.  I’ve since also spotted it at the Schilling Cider House in Seattle.

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First Impression:  Honey-orange amber hue.  Still.  Smells of bittersweet apples, orange, honey, cork, funk, and sourness.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Moderate bitterness, sourness, and acidity.  Low tartness and funk.  Light to medium bodied.  Long finish.  I found the flavor to be completely off, bad, bizarre, etc…I have no better way to describe it.

My Opinion:  I couldn’t tolerate more than one sip, and was totally not a fan.  And my husband literally spit out his sip.  Down the drain it went.  A friend of mine described a similar flavor to this cider, saying no one at the dinner party would drink it, yet I’ve seen reviews quite to the contrary online.  I think it having no carbonation is a sign of something being wrong, as this cider is supposed to be a sparkling.  So, I conclude this was likely a “bad bottle”.  Its unfortunate this happens to even the best cidermakers a certain percentage of the time, and if its someone’s first exposure to a cider from that brand, they may not give them another chance.

Closing Notes:   Although I have significant doubts as to this being a good sample from Le Pere Jules, this continues the trend of me only liking French ciders from Brittany (such as Le Brun, Celt, and Dan Armor), not Normandy (such as Le Pere Jules, Dupont, and Manoir du Parc)….I like the richer sweeter and more carbonated French ciders than those with any funk or sourness.  Note that I considered not posting this review, but I review every cider I drink, not just those I enjoy, and hopefully this isn’t overly negative.

Have you tried Le Pere Jules?  What did you think?

Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut De Normandie 2011

Review of Cidre Bouche Brut De Normandie (2011) from Etienne Dupont.

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Interesting side note on vintages:  In the U.S. current law does not state that cidermakers are allowed to put a vintage or harvest date (only winemakers).  Therefore it is rare to see it here, despite the variations in a cider from year to year.  Its great to be able to compare reviews and know that you are actually comparing apples to apples (vs. a different vintage of the same cider).

Cider:  Cidre Bouche Brut De Normandie, 2011 vintage
Cidery:  Etienne Dupont
Cidery Location:  Victot-Pontfol France
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  375ml bottle (also available in 750ml size)

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Availability:  Semi-wide release.  See their list of distributors.

Cider Description:  Cidre Bouché is created using the traditional method of the Pays d’Auge. Full of fruit and freshness, the taste reveals the aromas of apples and citrus with finesse (“cidre bouché” is a generic term for traditional cider, literally “cider under cork”).

Terroir: Nutrient poor clay and marl soil, perfect for giving small fruit.
Varieties: 80% of bittersweet apples; 20% of acid apples
Harvesting: from October to November

Techniques used: Controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats. Indigenous yeasts. Stabilization of the cider is sought by carrying out successive racking. The fermentation is controlled by successive racking. The cider is bottled unpasteurized between March and April. Density (O.G.): 1060 after pressing, equivalent to 134 g of sugar per litre. 1024 when bottled, which gives 5% alcohol after bottle fermentation has finished.

If well cellared, it can be kept for 5 years after bottling, Because the cider is on its lees, the mouth will improve and become more complex.

Cidery Description:   The Louis Dupont Family estate consists of 30 hectares (74 acres) of orchards in Normandy, in the heart of the Pays d’Auge region. The estate produces ciders, pommeau and calvados.  For more than 25 years now, the Estate has resolutely followed a path towards high quality. By drawing on the best techniques used to make cognac and its great blends, Etienne Dupont has studied, tried out and refined his cellar work to reach the same levels ofelegance and expressiveness as found in the best wines.  Some of these techniques, such as manual sorting of the apples, and even working with an oenologist are found only very rarely in the making of cider.

But just as for wine, the quality of the apples is still the first essential step. It is only after this that the creation of cider can make the most of the apple and its terroir.  Specialities of the estate: Ciders bearing a vintage date… a cider blend aged in oak… a blend using traditional methods of making sparkling wines… an apple “sweet wine”… cask strength calvados.  Thanks to their qualities of elegance and authenticity, the ciders and calvados from the Domaine Dupont are nowadays appreciated in many countries world-wide. A very great majority of its production goes for export.

See Dupont’s Page on Tasting Cider for some great info.  They have an online store which can ship if you aren’t in the U.S.  They also offer tours and a tasting room in France.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Recommendation from a fellow cider lover

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First Impression:  High carbonation and foam.  Smells of rich ripe apples, yeast, with a slight funkiness.  Hazy deep orange-amber hue.

Opinion:  Semi-dry.  Very yeasty, earthy, and beer-like.  Low acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  Moderate tannins.  Mild sourness and tartness.  Mild to moderate funk.  Full bodied.  More foam than fizz.  Long finish.  I didn’t find this cider very apple-forward…its other qualities such as the bitterness, funkiness, and foam were a bit overpowering for my palate.  It left me wanting the rich ripe apple flavor that I smelled.

Most Similar to:  The beer-like aspect reminds me of Square Mile Original, but that is a completely different style of cider.  I’ve only tried a handful of French ciders, but I seem to be picking up on two categories…the drier funky ones and the sweeter apple-forward ones.  As far as the French ciders I’ve tried, this is more along the lines of Manoir du Parc Authentic Cidre (vs. Le Brun Organic CidreCelt Cidre Breton Traditionnel, or Dan Armor Cuvee Speciale Cidre Brut).  This one was the former, while I definitely like the later, with the Dan Armor being my favorite so far (especially for $5!).

Closing Notes:   I wasn’t really a fan.  My husband was though (which makes sense as he is a beer fan).  However, Etienne Dupont seems to be a big hit in the cider community, so this is great example of why its great there are so many ciders…there is something for everyone.  Just because I didn’t care for a cider doesn’t mean you won’t!  It appears that most of their ciders have these qualities (and that this may be on the milder side for them), but I may have to do more research to see if I’d be open to trying any of their other ciders.  Often not liking a cider will have me want to try something else from the cidery as much as liking a cider will.

Note that it appears this bottle had been in the store for quite awhile.  I bought it in the last month, yet I was able to find reviews online of the 2012, 2013, and 2014 vintages.  Being in the store (vs. cellared with light & temperature control) can unpredictably impact the flavor, so its unknown how the flavor of this cider changed during that time.

Have you tried Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut De Normandie, or any other French ciders?  What did you think?