Much like wine, ciders can achieve a high level of aromatic complexity, balance and age. With this aim in mind, producers can blend bitter apples to hold the structure, sweet apples to give body and tart apples to give freshness and support the aromatic profile of the cider. This assemblage might not be common in viticulture, but the concept of terroir can still be as valid as in winemaking. Soils of granite and schist can impart remarkable minerality to apple and pear wines. Indeed, pear trees are well known to develop deep rootstocks, accentuating the influence of the soils on the fruit maturation. Moreover, orchards suffer from annual climate variations like vineyards, which introduces the concept of vintages to cider making.
Eric Bordelet is one of the few cider producers to understand these ideas. A former sommelier at L’Arpège in Paris, he inherited his family orchards close to South Normandy (technically Mayenne in Loire). Now he owns 23 hectares and buys fruit from locals around his land. All of these are cultivated organically and the harvest is done by hand, picking at the right time to ensure phenolic maturation. The result, ciders with crisp acidity, notes of undergrowth and minerality and velvety smooth tannins.
We are looking forward to trying his L’Argelette and Poiré Granit and sense their terroir character. For the meantime, we will be indulging ourselves with the Sidre Brut and some moules marinière.