Fifteen centuries of history in Normandy

The drinking of cider and especially perry in France, a historian from Lisieux, Mr. Louis Du Bois tells us, dates back to the late 6th or early 7th century.

"These drinks passed, before the invasion of the Moors, from Africa to Spain and Biscay (Spanish Basque country). It was from these regions that the ancient seafarers of Dieppe brought back the best varieties of apple and pear trees then known".

The arrival of these first grafts enriched the Norman genotype with its abundant varieties of crab-apple trees. Normandy gave a home to these trees with a natural environment favourable to their development in terms of soil and climate, and over the years growing them became a source of wealth.

Enhanced pressing techniques, the importing of improved seedlings, and the axing of the Normandy vineyards by Charles IX were all factors that contributed to the rise of cider production. Enjoyed by both French sovereigns and the clergy, cider became part of the 15th century lifestyle. Gentlemen planted, grafted, pressed and tasted. This bountiful period for the producing areas of Brittany, Normandy and Maine lasted until 1914 and was established by the work of many « pomologists » who were interested in growing the tree, selecting the top varieties, and they worked at enhancing cider-making techniques.

However, the economic upheavals generated by the two World wars changed the orchard landscape. A certain disinterest for the fruit, the emphasis on productivity to the detriment of tastiness and the State's waiving of alcohol quotas heralded the end of traditional production. In the 1980s, the producers of the Pays d'Auge, Cotentin and Finistère showed their determination to safeguard their varietal inheritance and led the way with replanting.

At the same time, the producers of perry (non-gaseous until now) elaborated a perry obtained from pure juice whose fermentation of some of the residual sugars in bottle produced effervescence.

In order to protect cider from a particular place made from local cider apples and using traditional production techniques, producers in the Pays d'Auge and Finistère requested an AOC appellation (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) status.

Nearly ten years of investigations into varieties, production conditions and soil analysis to delimit the geographical "appellation contrôlée" area earned them the right to use the names of the AOC appellations "Pays d'Auge" and "Cornouaille" in March of 1996.

They will be followed by the producers of perry who obtained the appellation "Domfront" in 2002, then by the producers of Cotentin who obtain the appellation Cotentin cider in 2016.

Since 2018, all these appellations are also protected by a protected designation of origin (PDO) at the European level.

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