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Monday 30 November 2020

All you need to know about French cider

Cider is, quite simply, an alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of apples.

It is widely produced in Britain, particularly the West Country, and Ireland. 

The UK has the world's highest per capita consumption but the drink is also popular in France (particularly Normandy and Brittany) and even in Australia, where it is mainly made in Tasmania. 

In the US, varieties of fermented cider are often called hard cider to distinguish alcoholic cider from non-alcoholic apple cider or "sweet cider". 

In France, cider must be made solely from apples, while perry is a similar product to cider made from fermented pear juice. 

In France, the Brittany and Normandy regions compete for cider drinkers' attention. 

Harvest takes place from mid-September to December in Breton and Norman orchards. Once harvested, the apples are sorted, washed, crushed (skin, flesh and seeds included), then pressed to extract their juice, known as 'must'. 

The juice is then stored in vats (sometimes oak barrels) for fermentation. Once bottled, the cider rests in a cellar for a few weeks to several months, depending on the flavour the cider maker wants.

'Cidre fermier' is made from apples from the actual farm that produces it, and 'cidre bouché' owes its name to its cork stopper.

The most famous French cider is made in the Cornouaille area and bears its name: Cornouaille AOP cider. It is the only Breton cider to benefit from a protected Designation of Origin. 

Another popular cider is Royal Guillevic, made exclusively with Guillevic apples, while the Domaine de Kervéguen in northern Brittany produces a cuvée from organic farming, called Prestige Carpe Diem. 

Normandy has its own cider route covering the Pays d'Auge and Cotentin with stopovers in the villages of Cambremer, Beuvron-en-Auge, Bonnebosq and Beaufour-Druval. 

Nicknamed 'Norman champagne' for its bubbles, perry is made in Domfrontais, an area covering the departments of Orne and Manche in Normandy and Mayenne in Pays de la Loire. 

Information from Atout France.

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