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?