Sunday, 23 December 2012

Domaine Dupont - Normandy Cider

Etienne Dupont – Normandy Cider
Domaine Dupont without doubt is the more highly recognized and acclaimed French cider producer which you can find in Australia – Just ahead of Le Pere Jules in my opinion. From a company who specializes mostly in calvados (like many Normandy producers), Domaine Dupont produces some fantastic traditional ciders. Now pay attention! Domaine Dupont is located in the commune Victot-Pontfol, which is in the area of the Pays d’Auge. These two are located in the department of Calvados, with all three situated in the region of Normandy – Phew, get all that!! Pay d’Auge also has the special rank of being an AOC or Appellation Controlee region, for its calvados and cider production too (which was thanks to Etienne Dupont, the current owner of Domaine Dupont). Victot-Pontfol is also only a short 40Km drive east from the ancient Norman city of Caen.

The Dupont story is a fascinating one which is entrenched in deep history and pride. Many French producers are proud of their heritage, which often dates back many centuries. The earliest known Dupont in Normandy was recorded all the way back in 1703, where calvados and cider was being produced amongst cattle farming. Today, and over three centuries later, Etienne Dupont along with his son Jerome Dupont are continuing the family traditions and making quality calvados and cider (along with other apple based beverages). The Domaine, or better known as the Louis Dupont Family estate, has over 30 hectares of premium, low nutrient soiled orchards which home over 6000 trees with 13 different varieties. These varieties are not your well known offerings and you have probably not heard about them. These include French varieties like: Petit Jaune, Judor, Rouge Duret, Noel des Champs and Bisquet. Some varieties you probably have heard about are Binet Rouge and Frequin – as I have mentioned them throughout my many reviews. But these apple varieties are beautiful and all blend together their bittersweet, acid, sweet and bitter components harmoniously to make a gracious French cider. My mouth is just watering right now! I also love the quote Domaine Dupont state regarding their apples used- “High quality apples are vital to the creation of a great cider”.

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The ciders are made fairly traditionally, with the apples scrupulously washed and sorted with rotten apples discarded. The apples are milled, and then pressed at very high pressures to extract all tannins and flavour fast. This is in complete contrast to white wine making, where to press a white you need to have a slow build up of a very gentle pressure. The juice is let to ferment in vats with wild yeast, racked, then bottled for final fermentation in bottle for natural carbonation without pasteurisation.

Right, now let’s actually get to the cider (finally). This Cidre Bouche is a neat looking Frenchy, and with an alcohol around 5 per cent, this suggests it’s a brut (dry). The colour is a beautiful yellow straw, and the cider itself is slightly hazy with tiny yeast deposits in the bottom of the bottle. On opening, the cork is relieved with a loud, and quite forceful I must admit, “POP”. There was lots of pressure built up under that baby, so watch out when opening. Pouring into the glass, I expected a raging torrent of foam and bubbles, but the mousse behaved itself and faded reasonably fast into to a constant bead.
The nose on initial inspection, offered up wild yeasty notes of some cheesy funk (all good). There were beautiful notes of dustiness and mushroom earthiness which complimented the up front green apple, and zingy apple fruit bowl characters. Subtle honey and woody aromas completed the whole nose and added more mouth watering complexity. On warming up a touch, other secondary characters of hessian, and caramel combined with vanilla greeted you like an old mate in the street. The nose as a whole is not as rustic as a traditional French farmhouse cidre, but the layers of complexity will blow your mind.   

On consumption, I couldn’t escape this crazy wet dog hair character which was pretty ‘in your face’. It was like my pet black Labrador Maisie jumped in a creek then decide to jump all over me giving me a sloppy kiss – well that’s how I would describe it. But the irony is I love my dog even when she has wet smelly hair, as do I with a French cider. Get my drift? So I had the gusto, to look over this and find more pleasing characters – and I did. The cider came across as brut, with just a touch of apple sweetness that rounded out the mouth feel. The carbonation created a lovely softness, combined with an iddy biddy bit of bitterness on the back palate. There was no real tannin or astringency influence, but the acidity was crisp and focused giving off a sherbet note. The balance between the bittershaprs and acidic apples was beautifully blended. The lovely length of pineapples, apples and creaminess was delightful too. The palate was well rounded and balanced, but very simple at the same time. This is a straightforward Cidre Bouche palate, but will sure please.
So really, this cider is quite refreshing offering itself up to being quite a session drink. This is because it’s easy to drink with a comfortable 5 per cent, it’s not offensive in any way, and is inviting and soft. This cider is not setting the world on fire, but is a great example from the talented makers at Domaine Dupont. I really liked this cider due to its simplicity and tendency to not over complicate things. A real reliable cider that is sure to please.  

Producer: Domaine Dupont – Louis Dupont Family Estate
Country: France (AOC Pays d’Auge, Calvados - Normandy)
Alcohol: 5%

Rating: 7.5 out of 10


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