Sunday, 21 April 2013

Comte Louis de Lauriston - Poire

The appellation (AOC) of Calvados Domfrontais closely resembles that of a wine AOC of say Bordeaux or Burgundy. The calvados spirit of Calvados Domfrontais must contain at least 30 per cent Domfront pears in the initial cider to be distilled. Regulations also state that the yields from the press must not exceed 65 per cent extraction, and the spirit must be aged for three years in oak. To top off the strict rules of the AOC, a Domfrontais orchard must have at least 15 per cent pear trees. In the grand scheme of things, Calvados Domfrontais only produces around 1 per cent of all calvados produced in the three appellations of Calvados (Pays de Auge, Domfrontais and Calvados). So how does this affect the ciders made in the Calvados Domfrontais region? Well obviously they contain the highest amount of pears present in the ciders produced from Normandy. What you will find is many ‘poire cidres’ made from super traditional pear varieties with some trees being up to three hundred years old. Two other notable producers from the Calvados Domfrontais Appellation consist of Victor Gontier (Saint-Georges-de-Rouelley) and Eric Borderlet (Charchigne). The Appellation is said to have very distinct minerality and distinctive floral characters in the ciders, along with great structural integrity.
Comte Louis de Lauriston is situated in the outskirts of the town of Domfront and along with cidre and poire, they also produce pommeau de normandie and of course, calvados. The calvados is distilled by farmers in the area and transported to the Lauriston cellars to be aged and labelled under the Comte Louis de Lauriston name. In 1992, the brand and production of Comte Louis de Lauriston was trustfully handed over to Pays de Auge calvados and cidre producer Christian Drouin to continue the exceptional calvados and cidre tradition.

The Comte Louis de Lauriston poire is made using traditional French pear varieties like Plant de Blanc, Muscadet, Avenelle and Poire de Grise. Bet you’ve never heard of them before! The poire cidre itself is made fairly simplistically with wild fermentation taking five to eight weeks in what I would have thought to be old oak vats. To get the natural carbonation, the poire is bottled half way though the primary fermentation and left to finish. The process in a whole leaves a very fresh and fruit forward poire cidre which is very approachable.  
This poire has stunning packaging, with a classy label and nice heavy 750mL bottle. Visually is looked spectacular and on opening I hoped it tasted as good as it looked. The colour shone a dark straw, with just a slight haze in the glass. Remember this poire was bottled during fermentation, so no filtration would have occurred besides multiple rackings, especially from oak to bottle. But I love this hazey feature as it means the poire hasn’t been tampered with intruding industrial processes. On pouring, there was a lovely large mousse, which faded into a subtle bead. The nose was dominated by a very delicate pear aroma, along with complimentary stone fruit characters, earthiness and some spice. Other hints of freshly cut hay and grass, cat urine (Yes, funnily enough it’s a descriptor and not a bad one either– especially for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) and cider apples also were present. Judging by the nose, my experience suggests there is a healthy amount of cider apples present in the blend too. Also noted was a beautiful musty character, almost like an old underground cellar which harboured some complexing oakiness. There was a tiny touch of reductiveness too, but not enough for me to worry or think negatively about.

The palate offered up rich and focused medium pear sweetness which seemed to be of a pure and delicate nature. True to the Calvados Domfrontais philosophy, the mouth feel showed great minerality and structural acidity. The acidity I thought was a little confused though; being what I thought was a mix of citric and tartaric. This made the mid palate taste quite lip smackingly sherberty and tangy. But I did find the fruit spectrums to be very clean and focused with an explosion of fresh pear fruitiness. Stewed apricot pie along with a luscious, almost oily texture lingered in the back palate nicely and added depth. There was no textural astringency, just pure pear fruit which didn’t affect the body or mouth feel in any respect. The natural carbonation was soft and delicate in the mouth, and was all in balance with the alcohol and flavour. I found this poire to be a real cider connoisseur’s drink.
This is the type of poire cidre which would easily substitute a sparkling wine on any dinner table. It had class and sophistication and was elegantly poised. The acidity was a touch out of balance for me, but the other components made up for it in flying colours. It offered up everlasting generosity which would make any cider lover happy. A very nice Domfrontais poire cidre indeed.

Producer: Comte Louis de Lauriston
Country: France (Rue du Mont-Saint-Michel, AOC Calvados Domfrontais)
Alcohol: 4.5%

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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