The name of this cider, Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie by Etienne Dupont of the Pays D’Auge region of Normandy is…a bit of a mouthful. Luckily for you, assuming the end result of your asking for it by name is that you actually manage to acquire some, the cider itself will more than compensate for the case of dry mouth you just came down with while saying it.
In some ways, Etienne Dupont’s Cidre Bouché is very similar to another Norman cider, Clos Normand (previously reviewed here). Both are relatively dry but with some residual sweetness, both are made with French cider apple varieties, and both are highly carbonated in Champagne-style bottles. Etienne Dupont’s cider, however, is unfiltered and has just a bit of farmyard character to it.
There’s a tiny whiff of sulfur when opening the bottle and when pouring; this is dissipated very quickly by the vigorous bubbling of the CO2 bubbles as they come out of solution. This is a very heavily carbonated beverage–try not to take a cork to the face when opening it, as I imagine that would dampen the mood of any celebratory occasion…these occasions being what this cider is particularly well-suited for.
Etienne Dupont is less astringent than Clos Normand, with hints of phenols and bitterness that may come from its aging with some sediment in the bottle, and a soft, pleasant acidity. It pours clear despite its unfiltered nature, until you get toward the bottom of the bottle and stir up the thin layer of sediment that sits there. There’s less sediment than you’d typically see in a bottle-carbonated cider made at home, though, so the home cider-maker’s ritual of pouring the bottle all at once to avoid stirring up the sediment with repeated pours is unnecessary (and would cause an enormous foam-over with all the carbonation anyway).
At 5.5% alcohol, you could sip quite a bit of this without dire consequences. And you’ll want to–it’s a very pleasant, celebratory cider.
It paired accidentally well with a piece of baclava that I happened to have at hand, scouring the tongue clean with bubbles and acidity between bites of sticky honey and rich, nutty sweetness. Perhaps at some point I’ll pair these on purpose and pretend that it was a well-thought-out pairing from the beginning…
I’m excited to see more of these ciders entering the U.S. market–there’s a massive cider tradition in Normandy with numerous producers, large and small, of cider and Calvados, so the potential for new imports is quite large. For an extensive account of this region and its cider, Pommeaux, and Calvados, I highly recommend Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy, by Charles Neal. Among other things, this massive tome describes La Route du Cidre–the cider route–a 40 km route through the Pays D’Auge region of Normandy with 19 producers of cider (and Calvados, and Pommeaux) to visit along the way.
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