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?

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Le Brun Poire

Review of Le Brun Poire, a French perry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had Le Brun’s Brut and Organic cidres (and several other poires).

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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:  Poire
Cidery:  Le Brun
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  Breton French poire (perry)

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd (new to their portfolio as of October 2017).  Their cider portfolio also includes Manoir de Grandouet, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.

Description:  LeBrun Cidres have been produced in Brittany, France since 1955.  Cidres are made using the traditional method of natural fermentation of pure pressed juices from handpicked pears. It all starts with the fruit. The cidery selects superior quality pears.

The orchards are carefully looked after until maturation of the fruits. The pears are picked by hand in order to prevent any damage. Preparing the fruit before cider making is always a process. The pears are collected and aged in special wooden cases for about 3 weeks in order to enable the fruit to slightly dehydrate and concentrate its aromas. The pears are then ready to be mashed. Once this is done, the result (pulp plus juice) is left to rest in a tank. This helps balance the taste profile of the future perry by sweetening possible harsh overtones. The pulp/juice is pressed again to get pure juice.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $10)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer/distributor contacted me

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of candied dried pear and lemon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  A hint of tannins.  Notes of dried pear, candied pear, lemongrass, green apple, and honey.  Moderate length finish with lingering lemon.  Moderate pear flavor, complexity, and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Great!  I was surprised with the dryness, lightness, and sharpness, as I was expecting something that was sweeter, fuller bodied, and lower acidity, like the others I’ve tried.  Perries are usually on the sweeter end as pear juice has unfermentable sugars (sorbitol).  I liked it however, especially the complexity.  This would be especially nice in summer, at only 4% ABV (and its really affordable too).

Most Similar to:  Not anything I’ve tried.  The other poires I can remember trying were semi-sweet, such as from Christian DrouinDan Armor (the sweetest of these), Domaine Pacory, and Eric Bordelet (the driest of these).

Closing Notes:  This is a great addition to Le Brun’s U.S. lineup, which already has “Brut” and “Organic” varieties of cider.  Winesellers also offers a French perry / poire from Daufresne, which I will be trying soon.

Have you tried Poire?  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”)

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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?

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?