DISPATCH FROM NORMANDY: Shhh...secret in the Michelin Starred Kitchen
I've said it before, repetition needs repeating.
[a Yogi Berra-ism that should have been said but probably wasn't...]
This is quite possibly the finest, under the radar, beverage we have ever offered. My enjoyment of ciders dates back to discovering some truely enjoyable pours at bars in Frankfurt, Germany in the early 1990s. A few decades on, while pulling the rarest selections for sale for an upcoming LA auction (Cellar of Christen Sveaas) I worked outside of London and the team frequented local pubs around town and in Bath. The locals would add ice to their ciders and I must say on a hot summer evening after work I thoroughly enjoyed the practice. However, stateside, as many of us know, the selections are big brew brands and less than inspiring grocery shelf stock - Strongbow Dry Cider wasn't cutting it.
Fast forward...I'm researching ciders to bring into Chapter 4 and every article I read on the "Top 10" are from states east of the Rocky Mountains. Fragmented distribution and archaic alcohol shipment laws in Pennsylvania and New York states were non-starters. I remain miffed as to why a nationally distributed publication would bother touting a Top 10 list that would never leave the state!? Just dumb.
That was until I discovered that Beaune Imports in California is one of the largest suppliers of what I came to understand as THE finest Cider / Sider on the market - anywhere.
DOMAINE ERIC BORDELET - The 🍏🍎🍐 Prince of Normandy, France
So fine is this ambrosia that highly acclaimed chef's thrive on it...not for their clientele BUT FOR THEMSELVES! 🤣 ...it's what they enjoy drinking before, after and during service.
During the 1980s, Eric Bordelet was one of the most influential figures in the Parisian wine scene, as he spent several years at the helm of the wine program at the illustrious Michelin Three Star restaurant l’Arpège. However, his native Normandy called him, and he handed over his sommelier duties and returned to the windswept orchards of Normandy in 1992, desiring to bring his superb palate to bear the high-powered ciders of the region. Bordelet was greatly encouraged in this endeavor by his close friend and confidante, the late Didier Dagueneau of Pouilly-Fumé, who was one of the Loire Valley’s most talented winemakers and colorful characters. Bordelet took over his family's 19 hectares property of Château de Hauteville, and planted 22 additional hectares of orchards in fields that had been fallow, all of which he transitioned to biodynamic farming. Along the way he has risen to prominence as one of the world's greatest cider producers.
At the core of Eric’s estate are three hectares of ancient, heirloom varietals of apple and pear trees that are 40-50 years old. In 1992, he began planting seven hectares of young apple trees and five hectares of pear trees, which are now in full production. He plants only pure varietal trees (non-hybrids), which are balanced between sweet, bitter and sour taste profiles. These are essential for producing ciders of character. Currently, he works with 20 varieties of apples and 14 types of pears—a true master of his craft who is eager to revive the less well-known varieties. Situated on schist and granite bedrock with silt and clay soil, he farms his orchards organically and biodynamically, which Eric believes produces the best fruit for ciders. He received official organic certification in 1996. While most of his orchards are free-standing, he chooses to trellis some of his pears.
Despite the incredible acreage of his orchards, Eric’s entire production of fruit is hand-picked, or rather picked-up, and put in wooden cases. The fruit is left in a drafty cellar to dehydrate for three to five weeks, after which time it is pressed. (The exception to this is the apples destined for the cuvée “Argelette” which are crushed and left to macerate on their skins for more extraction.) After pressing, fermentation begins, and the must is racked several times to both clarify the juice and slow down the process, and is then lightly filtered. The ciders are then bottled during this fermentation with varying amounts of residual sugar depending on the cuvée, without any chaptalization, to reach a final alcohol level in between three and four percent. The entire production of mousse in the bottle is derived from the primary fermentation and the delicate bottling process. And if the outstanding quality is not enough, some of Eric’s ciders also stand the test of time, making them ideal for aging . . . magic that only a former sommelier could make happen!
Non alcoholic sparkling apple juice made from a blend of varieties and is just lightly sparkling like all his ciders. Fabulously pure and perfumed and wickedly moreish bottles of this delicious cider empty remarkably quickly. Gently sweet and incredibly pure. Try some at any time of the day.
ERIC BORDELET, BRUT TENDRE (750ML) 🥂
Fermented almost bone dry, this is the traditional style of cider for the region. It is very fresh, and like all of Bordelet's ciders, it tastes like you're biting into the fruit.
ERIC BORDELET, POIRÉ L’AUTHENTIQUE (750ML) 🥂
This is true pear cider with just a hint of residual sugar. We could get out the wine terms for this, but tasting is believing. Very classy stuff with the texture and taste of ripe pears. Good acidity and length make this an excellent food match, especially with cheese.
ERIC BORDELET, SIDRE ARGELETTE (750ML) 🥂
This is Bordelet’s special cuvée for apples. Named after what the elders called the large and small rock formations which dominate the area, this is a truly “Grand Cru” cider. The apples are crushed and left to macerate on their skins for 3-5 days for some serious extraction of flavor.
ERIC BORDELET, POIRÉ GRANIT (750ML) 🥂
ERIC BORDELET, CORMÉ SYDRE 2021 (500ML) 🥂
ERIC BORDELET, SIDRE, NOUVELLE VAGUE (5L KEG) 🥂
It is refreshing and vibrant and always delicious to sip. Bordelet is the "terroirist" of ciders, as his ciders, like the best wines, are not just tasty but complex and expressive. Fresh, off-dry (but closer to dry) apple cider from his younger trees is fermented in a fresher style than his bottled ciders. Less skin maceration, makes for a more refreshing cider that will be even more versatile.