11.2.2011

Got Autumn Fermented Cider?

by Geoff Nicoll, Director of Wine & Spirits

Eric Bordelet CidersFew things embody Autumn more than the seasonal harvest of apples and pears.  The excitement turns to the creation of delicious and tantalizing masterpieces. The fantastic aromas and spicy sweet flavors combine to make some of the best Holiday desserts and set the tone for a great gathering.

But there is life beyond a great apple crisp, gratin, or tart. For generations, there has been a dedicated society that has nurtured a thirst and passion for natural fermented ciders. Not the cheap, from-concentrate concoction that is inoculated with carbon dioxide, but actually a handmade, artisan product that exemplifies decades, even centuries of tradition and excellence. Dozens of countries across the globe are producers and significant consumers of these fine and interesting beverages. For centuries, cider was the singular most consumed adult beverage on the planet, only recently being overtaken by beer. The origins of fermented cider will be argued, as there is historical proof of cider predating the 11th century, but it is generally agreed that the Normans had the most prolific impact after their conquest.

Enter Eric Bordelet, a prominent Sommelier at Michelin 3 star L’Arpège in Paris. After a meaningful career in the wine industry, he decided to return to his roots in Normandy and operate his family farm known as Château de Hauteville. The property existed of 19 hectares (47 acres) with decades old and some centuries old heirloom apple and pear trees.

Eric’s passion was sparked by famed and recently deceased mentor Didier Dagueneau of Pouilly Fume, whose natural techniques and handling became the pinnacle of his art. He is adamant about natural products, practices biodynamic farming methods, and the plant materials on his estate have never seen the use of chemicals. The orchard hosts more than 30 varieties of heirloom apple and pear, each offering its own attribute and contribution to the finished ciders. One of the most unique characteristics of Mr. Bordelet’s technique is his predisposition to natural farming; in lieu of a giant commercial tree shaking machine used to knock the fruit to the ground, he allows the fruit to fall at physiological ripeness; when it’s ready. The naturally ripe fruit falls onto the long uncut grass which acts as a soft landing bed. The fruit is picked up daily to protect from insect or weather damage.

Like most of the top quality products from the region, it is fermented traditionally and blended, allowing each of the singular varieties to add their voice to the final composition. The sparkling characteristic of these ciders comes from the secondary fermentation in the bottle, similar to Champagne, yet using only native yeasts. They are ideally low in alcohol (4-5%) so they are able to be enjoyed responsibly.

Bristol Farms proudly offers the Bordelet Cidre Doux Tendre a demi-sec apple cider that has tremendous complexity, wonderful mouth-feel, it is slightly sweet but has a tartness and acidity that dries the palate. A wonderful aperitif and complement to roast poultry. The Bordelet Poire Authentique is lively, delicate and refreshingly crisp demi-sec pear cider, ideal with any seafood, goat cheese or other savory flavors.

For the month of November, Eric Bordelet ciders will be on sale in Bristol Farms Wine Department.

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