Traditionally, in western France, the fruitiest cider apple juices (or pomaces) were laced with cider brandy so as to preserve their flavour throughout the year.
This operation, known as "mutage", was done on the quiet on the family farm and for centuries the method was a closely guarded secret, and the result the local aperitif, called Pommeau (as in "pomme", meaning apple).
In the seventies, a number of producers adopted a method for making the drink and decided to produce it as Pommeau de Normandie. However, having no legal existence, it was unsaleable. Until, that is, it was granted a dispensation in 1981, enabling it to come on the market.
The following year the Association Nationale Interprofessionnelle des Producteurs de Pommeau (ANIPP) was set up. By that time, there were 15 producers producing 12,000 bottles. Two years on, sales had risen to 150,000 bottles.
The agricultural framework law of January 2006 led to a review of the specifications of the AOC approved by Decree n°2099-1350 on 29 October 2009.
Pommeau de Normandie now mobilizes both small producers and large merchants. In 2011, a total volume of 733 500 bottles was marketed by some eignty producers.
An idea that has caught on
In 2011, 207 800 bottles were marketed by about ten different producers.
Pommeau du Maine obtained its AOC status on 29 October 2009 by decree setting out the conditions of production. It involves 7 producers who produce around 28 000 bottles by year and is part of the collective Pommeau communications at IDAC.