This is neat. For years we've been waiting for French ciders to reappear in this market and now they're here under the brand name Domaine du Verger. While the brand names of the past are long gone from memory, the taste of fine French cider is unforgettable. Hard cider is a far cry from non-alcoholic cider. In some ways it's similar to a fruity beer but yet not really. It's most like Champagne but of course, it's not really like Champagne at all. It is truly its own category.
Domaine du Verger comes in two types. The Brut is refreshingly light and dry while the Rose is light and a little off-dry. Rose? Yes, this one is made from Baya Marisa apples that share the red flesh we remember from the neighborhood crabapple tree, so if you're making cider this one naturally comes out pink!
The ciders we're talking about here come from a co-op called Val de Rance which was begun in 1983 in Brittany, France. They have been growing and modernizing since then to the point where they now utilize one thousand acres of orchards owned by three hundred growers to produce up to fifteen thousand tons of apples.
All of the apples grown in Brittany are considered to be bittersweet in character. They are supplemented with bitter apples from Normandy, the appellation best known for cider. For both ciders produced, the mix is 90% Brittany and 10% Normandy with no other juice of any kind added.
The cider making process is pretty simple and forthright. The apples are picked, cleaned, crushed, and fermented before CO2 is added for bubbles. The actual bottles used for these ciders are corked and caged Champagne bottles. For the Brut version the fermentation time is two months; for the sweeter Rose version it's just five weeks. Because the fermentation is shorter the Rose ends up being just 2.5% alcohol as compared to the 5% Brut version.
The Brut cider is a pale straw color, light in body, and has aromas of golden apples, peach, and apricot. On the palate the wine is refreshing. The rose is a little sweeter with a bit more body and moderately tart with no sourness or bitterness. The simple flavor profile for the rose includes strawberry, white grape, and pomegranate. The wine finishes sweet. No additional sugar is added in the making of either wine.
These ciders are perfect as apertifs, with brunch, mild cheeses, and with summer! They should be consumed within a year of purchase.
Please join us next Thursday the 19th at 5pm when Cherie Rubio joins us for a tasting of California wines.