Chris heads to Finistére to learn about French cider making

Chris heads to Finistére to learn about French cider making

On July 11th 2018, we sent our Head Cider Maker across the channel to Finistère in Western Brittany to learn everything there is to know about Cider Making the traditional French way.

This was a fantastic opportunity for Chris to learn and develop his knowledge in the craft of cider making, by learning how other countries do it and finding ways we might apply a touch of their own magic to our method. Finistère is a French department in western Brittany. Its history of apple growing and cider making is as rich as the cider being produced and enjoyed in this rural corner of France.

During his three days in France, Chris was able to speak to other local cider producers which included tours of a selection of historic local cider farms and of course, many tasting sessions. A selection of our products were on show at a tasting stand at a local cider festival which allowed Chris to really engage and understand what it is that draws people to the Breton style cider and how the locals felt about our style of products as well.

The making of true Breton Ciders

Chris learnt a lot about Breton ciders (ciders produced in Brittany) which are characterised by full-bodied, rustic flavours and often enriched by maturation in oak barrels giving leathery and spicy notes. The colour of these ciders can vary from straw yellow to mahogany brown according to the combination of local apple varieties and the area of production. An example of this would be ciders from Ille-et-Vilaine (North Western Brittany) traditionally are more acidic and lighter in colour whereas ciders produced in Finistère where high tannin, bitter apples predominate are a darker colour and more bitter and dry in flavour.

When it comes to production the apples are collected, stored, then chopped and left to rest for around 24 hours before they are loaded into a press and pumped into a fibreglass tank for ‘Keeving’ – an artisan method for making naturally sweetened and sparkling cider.

In Finistére cider is still widely perceived as a sweet, low alcohol drink. Traditionally it is served in a bollée and is enjoyed as a pairing with Crepe and Gallate (pancakes - savoury and sweet). As a result, the cider makers Chris met with were quite perplexed with our products in particular how our ciders were more mellow and light in profile and how we make and sell so much of it.

Cider producers visited by Chris

  1. Domaine de kervéguen – Guimac ----> 15 acres of orchards, typically using 5 main varieties in cider production.
  2. Manoir de Kernault – Mellac ---> A conservation project built around a magnificent 15th century manor estate with little history of making cider.
  3. Ferm de Kermarzin – Argol --->  Founded as a cider producer in 2003 by Hélèn and Jean Baptiste - 25 acres of orchards yielding 5 main varieties for cider production.
  4. Manoir de Kankiz – Quimper ---> 75 acres of traditional orchards growing 30 different varieties of cider apple.

 

 

 

Posted by Beccy Price
25th July 2018

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