How’d you like them apples?
Le Père Jules Cidre De Normandie Brut, Léon Desfrièches Et Fils
As a kid, my family called me Apple Juice Chaplin. I loved apple juice that much. So you can imagine my delight upon discovering cider in my early 20s – it’s grown up apple juice! When I first started drinking cider it was mostly Magners and Strongbow and syrupy sweet ciders. And it was fine. It had to be. That’s actually all there was for a good long while.
Luckily, though, things are changing. Quality is getting better, sugar levels are going down. It’s no longer seen an alternative to beer, but a unique and delightful drink all on its own.
Cider is actually kind of having a moment (for evidence see: a cider-only bar, Her Father’s, on Harbord and the forthcoming Grey Gardens by Jen Agg where natural wines and cider will take centre stage). There’s also been a cider boom in Ontario. More and more cideries are opening up and more and more excellent examples are finding their way to our shops and bars.
But here’s the thing: great cider isn’t new. They’ve been making it forever in Europe. In Normandy and the Basque region (and elsewhere, I’m sure) they take it as seriously as others do wine – there are even special regional designations to ensure quality. These ciders are worlds apart from those sweet, crystal clear ciders of our youths. They’re more than just grown up apple juices, they’re in a class of their own. (Calling them grown up apple juice actually feels super dirty.)
So what sets these ciders apart? Well, they’re typically low-intervention. That means the cider-makers do as little as possible to the apples: there are no chemicals, no added sugars or yeasts, and little filtration if any. These ciders are cloudy, funky, and tasty AF. They’re surprising and delicious, dry to off-dry delights with light bubbles due to bottle conditioning and complex, intense aromas.
And that’s why you should start drinking them, whenever you see them. You can thank me later.
This bottle is one of the my favourites from the summer. I had it twice, and if I have my way I’ll have it at least a million times more before it’s sold out. I was actually super surprised to see it in the LCBO – it states on the bottle that it’s unpasteurized and I know the Board can be tetchy about natural products. I’m so glad they let this through.
The first time I had it, I exclaimed, “It’s all farts and apples.” And while that’s definitely true, there’s way more going on. So pop a bottle and enjoy. It’s only 4.4% alcohol so you can drink the whole thing without feeling gross, but I recommend sharing. There are a couple great ciders in the LCBO right now – plus a few others from local wineries – so why not do a flight?
And yes, you can expect reviews of a few more because did I mention I love cider?
Nose: Farts, crisp apples, apple blossoms, beeswax (so much beeswax), smoke, and cloves.
Palate: Gimme some of that barnyard funk. This is a smokey, apples and honey, earthy, fruity, spicy drink. It’s even tastes a bit peaty, so if you’re into Scotch you’ll like this a lot. It’s beautifully textured and cloudy, with soft bubbles. There’s plenty of acidity and a touch of sweetness to balance it out, but you’ll hardly notice as you gulp this cider down. It’s really so drinkable and delicious. Be warned: there is some sediment that will line the bottle when you pour it. That’s the surest sign of quality.