In addition to dairy products and seafood, Normandy is known for its apples. Naturally, the people of Normandy figured out long ago how to make their abundant apple crop into a fermented beverage. (I’m sure this had everything to do with preservation, and nothing to do with inebriation.) There is even a 40 km “Cider Route” for tourists and enthusiasts. These days, a majority of the cider in France comes from Normandy, though it turned out to be distinctly hard to track down in Rouen. Nick and I asked for local cider in most of the restaurants and bars we visited, and only two poured it! Considering that both served the same brand, Le P’tit Rouennais, and that we enjoyed it quite a bit, we hoped we would be able to find some in a shop before leaving town. No such luck. Of course it didn’t help that it was a holiday weekend and just about everything was closed, but we were hoping for a Lille-style jackpot in the local Monoprix.
After spending several hours wandering the town in search of local ciders to purchase, we ended up in a souvenir shop of sorts. We bought three different ciders which, upon further inspection, were all from the same producer: Les Vergers de la Morinière. It’s a family business that has been making cider and stronger apple-based spirits for 150 years. We were curious to taste the difference between the styles, and to see if it was detectable. Over the next few days, we tasted the three ciders, and I dutifully took notes. First, L’Atypique. This may not have been the best one to start with, seeing as Nick and I were unfamiliar with the “typical” Norman cider, but there it was.
L’Atypique was extremely effervescent, with a foamy white head that quickly dissolved. The cloudy, golden color was reminiscent of nonalcoholic apple cider. On the palate, the cider was rather dry, with a significant yeastiness. Nick noted, “You can tell it used to be sweet.”
Next up was the AOC Cidre Pays d’Auge. If there does exist a typical cider from Normandy, this one is it. Super fizzy (again) and dry with a hint of fermented yeast character. Compared to L’Atypique, the Cidre Pays d’Auge had a slightly darker amber color and tasted sweeter and more apple-y. A very straightforward cider.
Finally, we tried the Cidre Fermier. I’m glad we saved this one for last, as it was probably my favorite of the lot. It definitely smelled of apple, and still had a remarkable amount of fizz. Cloudier and just darker in color than the Cidre Pays d’Auge, the Cidre Fermier had a rustic quality to it that really appealed to me. The flavor was fuller and more complex than the other two, just edging on barnyardy, but in a good way. (We had a cider that was barnyardy in a bad way shortly after moving to Paris… kind of had us wondering if we were going to get food poisoning, and put us off cider for a while.) Anyway, now I know what to ask for the next time I’m in Normandy: Cidre Fermier. If I can find a bar serving it, that is.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.