24 Nov 2006

Gate Crashing Calvados

I GATE-CRASHED a Calvados tasting last night, hosted by Didier Bedu of Chateau du Breuill, one of Normandy's most prestigious boutique producers of exquisite still distilled cider. Incidentally he did not once let the liquid pass his lips...

VSOP: Floral, with good fruit, pure, ideal flambée matter for Crêpe Suzette.

8YO (year old): Not the version "conceived for and by women" which I wanted to examine. This had a sticky but not stuck, soft palate with a deeper depth of field to that prior and a developing aftertaste. It in fact gave me a lovely warm glow, as did Didier's words, "...it gives you good dreams and never makes you ill". Indeed 5-6kilos of fruit per albeit terribly shaped bottle must be rather good for one's constitution.

15YO: I was beginning to get the impression that these Calvados never lose their lightness of touch. Progressively darker, slight caramel notes prevailed - a perfect accompaniment to a rich cedar scented cigar. At this point I quizzed Didier as to which country outside France was the largest consumer of his Calvados. The answer intrigued me: Italy, then the Netherlands, Germany then Russia (increasing their consumption almost vertigineously fast). He put this down to "ugly vodka" going out of fashion.

25YO: Spices are coming, with a slight menthol nose, particularly when exhaling. I was beginning to feel like a God with an orange/clove Calvados forcefield swathed around me. I was almost crying to Didier that "this needs to be known more in the UK!"

Calvados Royal (30-40YO): Absolutely alive, this madeira cake aroma version was more self-assured. More of a sensation in fact, travelling down into the ground with its earthy, Cuban Coffee roast maltiness stirred through with burnt orange, dry treacle and clear honey [around £100].

Pommeau came next, an easy refreshing (served very cold) drink that one person present described as "smelling like a baby". I thought it smelt like the inside of a vitamin C container.

The Liquer au Calvados was bracing, a potential collaborator doused by dry Champagne. This was the most close to its ingredients with a whole evolution of flavours. By now I was scribbling things down like "different seasons...the culmination of summer!"

Further Link: These products are available through 'The Whisky Exchange'