To celebrate World Calvados Day, we’re sharing everything you need to know about Calvados and some recommendations from French spirit importers and distributors.
What is Calvados?
It is both a region in France as well as a spirit made from apples and pears.
Distilled from apple cider
It is also known as cider brandy or eau de vie de cidre.
How it’s made
Initially the fruit is made into cider. To do so, apples and pears are washed, crushed, and pressed. Their juices macerate. Cider fermentation and ageing then occurs. The different varieties of apples and pears are all pressed, fermented, distilled, and aged separately.
Then to become Calvados, it is distilled before being aged in oak barrels. Some of the AOC areas call for a minimum of 2 years, whereas 3 years is the minimum for Calvados Domfrtontais. It is only at distillation stage that the different varieties of apples and pears will be blended together.
Higher quality calvados can be aged for between 6 and 25 years.
The time it is aged is what gives it the letters on the bottle
- Fine: 2 Years
- Vieux or Réserve: 3 Years
- V.S.O.P. (Very Special Old Pale), V.O, or Vieille Réserve: 4 Years
- X.O. (Extra Old), Napoléon, or Hors d’Âge: 6 Years
- Millésime: Vintage cognac from of a single year
300 varieties of apples grown in Normandy
Since the 14th century, more than 300 varieties of apples have been grown in Normandy
Calvados blends different varieties of apples
Unlike wine which can be single variety, Calvados producers use several different varieties of apple in order to create a smooth calvados.
4 categories of apple varieties
Bitter, bittersweet, sweet and acidulous. These are determined by the flavour of the apple’s acidity, sugar content, bitterness and tannin.
Sweetening is prohibited
Chaptalization and pasteurization of the cider are prohibited.
Calvados helped the French in the First World War
Due to the high alcohol content of Calvados, it was requisitioned by the French Government to be used in the making of explosives.
Its moment in the spotlight in the late 19th century
As the phylloxera outbreak devastated French vines and decimated the French wine industry, calvados increased in popularity.
Calvados can only come from Normandy
It is an AOC product, just like only sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it is made in the Champagne method and from grapes grown in Champagne region. It was registered as an AOC in 1942.
But there’s one exception
Apparently, Argentina was making an apple cider brandy and calling it Calvados before 1942 so you can find Argentinian made Calvados there.
Three types of appellations
There are 3 types of appellations protecting French calvados
- AOC Calvados which is a transformation of the 10 areas that the Calvados d’appellation d’origine règlementée (AOR) covered into one appellation. These 10 appellations were: calvados du Calvados, calvados du Domfrontais, calvados du Perche, calvados du Merlerault, calvados du Cotentin, calvados de l’Avranchin, calvados du Pays de la Risle, calvados du Pays de Bray, calvados du Montainais and calvados du Pays du Merlerault.
- Calvados d’appellation controlee Pays d’Auge which is made from the cider of apples in controlled orchards in the Pays d’Auge region (AOC)
- AOC calvados Domfrontais which must be made from at least 30% pears.
Brittany’s version of Calvados
There is also a designation called Eaux de vie de cidre règlementée (cider brandy from regulated and controlled origin) such as those from the region of Brittany.
World Calvados Day history
It was started by Avallen and Difford’s Guide in 2020. It’s celebrated annually on 20 October and 2022 is its third year. This date marks the apple and pear harvest season in Normandy’s orchards.
Use the #WorldCalvadosDay to share your World Calvados Day celebrations. Tag @matildamarseillaise on Facebook and instagram so we can see what you’re drinking!
WORLD CALVADOS DAY RECOMMENDATIONS
We asked French spirit importers and distributors for their recommendations for World Calvados Day.
Carl Jenny, Brand Ambassador at Cerbaco, shares his World Calvados Day recommendations and cocktail recipes.
Which Calvados do you recommend for World Calvados Day and why?
I recommend the Calvados Christian Drouin XO as a digestive.
For a cocktail, La Blanche Christian Drouin or Calvados Christian Drouin Sélection are perfectly suited.
When do you drink Calvados?
Calvados can be enjoyed throughout the meal. In cocktails, in food pairing, but also to finish a dinner as a digestive.
Could you please recommend some food pairings from Calvados?
- Creamy cheese (Camembert, Pont Leveque, Brie, …)
- Tarte Tatin (caramelised apple pie)
- Meats (beef especially)
- Foie gras
Do you have a Calvados cocktail to share with us)?
I have a few!
Calva Express (Espresso Martini twist):
– 30 ml La Blanche Christian Drouin
– 60 ml hot espresso
– 20 ml Cacao liquor Massenez (or coffee liquor)
– 5 ml sugar syrup
topped with 3 coffee beans
– 30 ml Calvados Christian Drouin Sélection
– 20 ml Pommeau from Normandy Christian Drouin
– 60 ml apple juice
– 10 ml grenadine syrup
– 40 ml Calvados Christian Drouin Sélection (or La Blanche)
– 20 ml lemon juice
– 20 ml grenadine syrup
– ice cubes
– 30 ml Calvados Christian Drouin Sélection
– 30 ml Maidenii Vermouth Rosé
– 100 ml Domfront perry (poiré) Le Père Jules
1 or 2 slices of orange
Mikael Gillard from Mind Spirits & Co. highly recommends Calvados Pierre Huet established in 1865, which can be purchased from Nick’s.
Located in Normandy on the “Cider Route”, in the heart of the Pays d’Auge, The family-owned Estate Pierre Huet produces and markets Calvados, Pommeau de Normandie and Cider.
More than 25 varieties of apples are grown on the 30 hectares of orchards composed of either standard trees or cordons trees.
Thanks to the favourable terroir for apple growing, The Pierre Huet Estate produces and markets worldwide, following severe requirements, four out of the six AOC (registered designation of origin) cider products of Normandy, namely:
- Calvados Pays d’Auge
- Pommeau de Normandie
- Cider Pays d’Auge
I have selected for you the Pierre Huet Calvados Pays d’Auges Cordon Or 30 years certified specifically. It is to purchase available here: https://www.nicks.com.au/products/pierre-huet-fine-calvados-700ml
Can you recommend a food pairing for this Calvados?
Tarte tatin & Calvados Cordon Or 30 years, bien sûr!
Can you recommend a Calvados Cocktail for Calvados Day?
We highly suggest the Normandian Sour:
-60ml Fine de Calvados 2 to 3 years old.
-30ml lemon juice
-20ml sugar syrup.
-1 x egg white
Have you tried Calvados before?
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