The Pays d’Auge cider

Some unique terroirs

The natural region of Pays d'Auge extends over the eastern part of the department of Calvados, the north of the Orne and some communes of the west of the Eure.

From high-stem and low-stem orchards, apple trees are planted on shallow clay-limestone hillsides that limit the vigor of the trees in favor of the high sugar content and the organoleptic quality of the fruit.

The trees benefit from a temperate oceanic climate characterized by low temperature amplitudes and moderate regular rainfall. Centuries of varietal selection have contributed to a predominance in the orchards of sweet-bitter local varieties (Bedan, Bisquet, Christmas Fields ...), very fragrant, balanced in sugars, and bitter varieties rich in tannins (Domaine, Fréquin Red...).

Among the 750 varieties of cider apples existing in the Pays d'Auge, 50 are involved in the production of the Pays d'Auge cider, 70% of which are phenolic (bittersweet and bitter). These are complemented by sweet and acidulous varieties (15% maximum) that contribute to the roundness and freshness of the product.

From apple to cider

Harvested at maturity from late September to mid-December, manually or mechanically, apples are assembled, sorted and washed to keep only healthy, clean fruit. They are then crushed to obtain a pulp which undergoes a phase of cuvage to allow the aromas to be released and the juices to take their color.

The pulp is pressed slowly using packet presses, hydraulic or pneumatic. The musts obtained have a natural minimum saccharimetric richness of 108 grams per liter. These apple musts are immediately put in vats and after a few days, the solid parts come up and filter the juices naturally to form a brown hat and thick on the surface. Below this hat, the juice became perfectly limpid, clear, brilliant, able to ferment slowly. It is then withdrawn in stainless steel or fiberglass tanks, away from the air, and under the action of naturally occurring yeasts on apples, some of the sugars are converted into alcohol for several months.

To preserve a maximum of aromas, the fermentation must proceed slowly at low temperature (around 10 °). A minimum of six weeks is required before bottling. To perfect the aromatic balance, different cuvées can be assembled.

During fermentation, indigenous yeasts turn sugars into alcohol. The fermentation is monitored by measuring the density. The more the fermentation progresses, the more the alcohol content increases and the sugar level, measured by the densimeter, decreases. The producer chooses the density at which he bottled his cider and makes a last racking or filtration in order to better control the yeast population. In the bottle, the yeasts, whose number has been adjusted, then produce a natural effervescence that gives the cider its sparkling character. This natural foam in the bottle, essential for the making of Pays d'Auge cider, lasts at least six weeks in a cool cellar.

Density, residual sugars and alcohol content condition the cider profile. For a cider "Pays d'Auge", the residual sugar content must be greater than or equal to 20g/l, with an acquired ABV superior to 3.5% vol.

The tasting

The Pays d'Auge cider has a golden yellow to amber color, and is characterized by a light foam and fine bubbles. Its buttery aromas mingle with those of fruit in its youth, while menthol and vegetal notes appear in its maturity. Very round, with low acidity, the palate is elegant and perfectly balanced between the smooth delicate flavors and a hint of bitterness.

Appreciated for its refreshing qualities on hot summer afternoons, it also livens up the senses either before or during a meal. A round and smooth young Pays d'Auge cider goes well with dishes made with cream and also desserts (especially pastries made with apples and other sweets).A one year-old cider will go very nicely with slightly stronger meat like duck or lamb while also going readily with white meat. It can also be served with fish cooked in butter or cream.

But most of all, try it with Normandy cheese and particularly with ripened Camembert.

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