The Ciders of my Bretagne !!!

Over the years of blogging I have mentioned in several briefs the wonderful ciders of Bretagne/Brittany and it has been a wonderful ride on them, However, fell one post to cover all would be better and more informative to all. I grew up on ciders too, but these were from Asturias Spain, then tried the Norman ciders on my visits to the area from Versailles, Finally came to live in the Morbihan breton dept 56 and began to try the Breton ciders, I admit right away no doubts they are the best, I like to update several posts and briefs on them into one post on the ciders of my Bretagne !!! Hope you enjoy the post and find it informative as I

Well, as it goes with the galettes, crêpes of Brittany the drink is the cider, Beer is very popular and wines next but the ciders are king, Now some background on the ciders of Brittany !!!

The designation Appellation Cidre de Bretagne or Cidre Breton is a protected geographical area such as a Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) since 2000.  According to the Union Nationale Interprofessionnelle Cidricole, the Breton ciders are characterized by a variant color from straw yellow to tainted or woody brown  according to the varietal composition and the terroir (site of cultivation of apples). The variety Guillevic label rouge given since 2000 is done using apples of the Guillevic variety only, pure juice ,not gasified not adulterer and non pasteurized.  It is produce in my area of the Morbihan and it is with a soft acidic flavor and aromas of fresh fruit, flowers, and exotic fruits like pineapples. The body is pale yellow, with green reflects, crystalline with fine persistent bubbles. The Breton Cider is serve in cups of terracotta shiny smooth call Bolées ,small bowls with handle or without and the form in cylindrical style. You have Cidre doux or sweet with less than 3 degrees alcohol, Cidre Demi-Sec or half dry with alcohol between 3-4 degrees and the Cidre Brut with alcohol of 4 degrees or more usually 5,5 degrees.

The production of fermented apples is known in Brittany since the 8C. In the 12C several varieties of apples from Spain were grafted with local varieties to improved their concentration of tannins and the conservation of ciders.  Until the end of the 19C the harvest of apples and the cider production was very loose and the price varies in the same proportions according to the harvest of apples, the offer and the quality. Brittany produces 40% of all cider consumed in France with the biggest producers located in a radius of 60 km around the city of Rennes, representing 84% of the volume in Brittany. Also, in addition, you have about 70 artisans local producers in farms that gives a different twist to this wonderful drink.  The legend has seven large ciders in Brittany, on the terroirs of the Nantais country, the country of Rennes, Redon, the Val-de-Rance, the Goëlo, the Guillevic and Cornouaille. We only build a legend on great stories, and the cider of the 21C is a Breton one.

The first ciders arrive in the market early October coming from the region of Dol (Dol de Bretagne) ; the farmers from the marshes kept this tradition to collect the apples early. It is a cider doux, acidic, very nice to the taste on drinking but needs early drinking. The varieties of apples are the rouget de Dol and rouget blanc, bitter apples. It was sold like table apples in England and Germany. In Ille-et-Vilaine dept 35, was for long the biggest producer of cider apples in France; and the areas of the basins of Rennes and Vitré  still are the region with the biggest production.  The ciders here are generally light, acidic low in alcohol and nice bouquet.  The varieties are the bedan rouge aigre, marguerite and gilet rouge.  Before ,this region exported part of its apples to Germany for apple juice.  Along the valley of the Rance , and around Dinan the cru call  “de Pleudîhen” is more acidic and stronger than that of Rennes.  The varieties are  the Jeanne renard, chevalier jaune, and marie menard.  The land is more granitic, and the arable land less deeper and less rich than on the basin of Rennes given apples less stronger, fruits richer in sugar,and a density on the must higher.  The Valley of the  Rance has always been a rich region of cider apples and exported the ciders to other areas of Brittany such as Léon  and Trégor, where varieties stronger and good conservation are harvest such as the richarde, vallon, and toupie etc.  The more we go west, the more the crus are acidic and less apples to mix with. The region of Vannes is an exception.  Here is the base for the Guillevic variety that only use alone a doux, acidic well perfume and average alcoholic. In the south of the Finistére dept 29, in the apple orchards of Quimperlé they mix the acidic varieties in  Clohars-Carnouët, Moëlan-sur-Mer, Pays Bigouden ,and Fouesnant . The crus are known for their strong color and acidic taken from their varietals such as Chuero briz, c’huero ru and kermerrien. In the north of the Finistére , you have it is not much cultivated and import their apples from the east of the Côtes-d’Armor (dept 22) such as  Dinan, Plancoët, and Matignon. The basin of Fougères produces a lot of apples but do not give a cru well done.

The one we like the best in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 are:

The Distellerie de Gorvello in Sulniac, A wonderful place making cider, apple juice, liquors from apples such as pommeau de Bretagne, Fine de Bretagne, vinager of cider, etc as well as cold cuts canned goods. It has won many medals in the region and a family business. It is better to call ahead for tours as they change all the time; we did not go on it as we already visited the making of cider here, but did tasted the apple juice Gullivec and Tradition and Gullivec ciders as well as other goodies. It is in the immediate vicinity of Vannes and the Gulf of Morbihan, at the village of Sulniac , the Gorvello distillery is a small family farm specializing in the cultivation of Apple Cider.  On the expressway N165 direction Nantes  at exit sortie 22 take direction first La Trinité Surzur and quick right into the road D183 direction Sulniac, you past the signs for the Castle of Plessis Josso (see post) and on the next road with a small sign (need to be alert not to missed it) turn right and see signs for the distillery. The production activity is right on site with a workshop located within one of their orchards, here  carefully and according to artisanal methods its develop quality products including aperitifs and distilled spirits with their own alembic and aged in oak barrels in the cellar. The flagship products are  Fine Bretagne AOC , Pommeau de Bretagne AOC, Little Prince Guillevic ,Cider from Brittany IGP and AB, AB Apple juice, Cider vinegar et Other local products. We have tried most already. Delicious, old fashion way the one we like and glad to be in France and the prices are family soft. Webpage : https://www.distilleriedugorvello.fr/

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sulniac-dist-du-gorvello-showroom-shopping-mar20

Sulniac dist du gorvello-tradition-brut-from-aug16

I have written on Surzur before in my blog, and it was one special spot where I took my dear late wife Martine for natural cures; forever memorable. The town of Surzur is crossed from east to west by the D 20, the town’s main road. The D183, which connects the expressway from Vannes to Nantes, the N 165, but also the connection with the villages located inland, such as La Trinité-Surzur, Sulniac or Le Gorvello. There is one bus line 22 but best by car . The town of Surzur has an oceanic feeling crisscross by several small creeks and rivers. Therefore, we go to the Cidrerie Nicol with it’s wonderful cider products already tasted here. Near the Gulf of Morbihan, for three generations, the Nicol’s have been making on their farm a traditional cider which has the particularity of being fruity and slightly acidic. It is made with apples from their 13 ha orchards and apples from south Morbihan farmers exclusively to preserve the wine which is linked to the land and their high level of sunshine. The farm has 13 hectares of orchard, four of which have a red label, the cider house harvests and buys apples of local varieties. It processed nearly 1,000 tonnes of fruit in 2019 for a production of around 800,000 bottles of cider (raw, fruity and sweet), 100,000 bottles of apple juice, 100,000 bottles of Royal Guillevic Label Rouge and 10,000 crab apple bottles (non-alcoholic sparkling juice). They make an authentic cider bouché (corked) pure juice, exclusively from fresh Guillevic apples, with a fine and original personality to be discovered both as an aperitif in a flute or at the table with a dessert. This top-of-the-range mono-varietal cider, of natural fermentation, of the Royal Guillevic appellation is today guaranteed by a Label Rouge. With perfect traceability, each batch is subject to approval after analysis and evaluation by the tasting committee. Other products are the Rhuys Artisanal Cider (Brut, Demi-sec, Doux) traditionally made in their farm and has the particularity of being fruity and slightly acidulous. It is regularly awarded a medal at the Concours Général Agricole in Paris. Apple juice 100% pure juice made from cider apple juice gives it a fragrant and frank taste. It is of course alcohol-free and without the addition of sugar. Webpage, https://www.cidres-nicol.bzh/

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Cidrerie Nicol Grande Guillevic

Cidrerie Nicol buche

The musée du cidre at Le Hézo  nice cider on the spot produce, and other goodies (see post) . Also, a tour on the making of it and tastings. webpage: https://www.museeducidre.com/en

Cidrerie des Terroirs at Colpo produces artisanal cider 100% pure juice from local cider apple orchards. The products are divided into 3 ranges: “Colpo” traditional rustic and full-bodied ciders, “Terroir” sweet and fragrant ciders, “Royal Guillevic” tasting cider. Webpage : http://cidrerie.colpo.pagesperso-orange.fr/

The Cidrerie du Golfe  at Arradon, This year 8 cuvées are offered. Local cider: fine and balanced, Outstanding: bitter and long in the mouth ; P’tite cuvée: tangy and 100% Guillevic ; Hoops: (infused with hops), Chouf: (cider and honey co-fermentation), BlaBla: (cider/bitter orange co-fermentation), My heart swings: (cider/grape co-fermentation), the X: (extra-gross) ; Hangover: (Solera ciders), Baphomet: (cider aged on pommeau lees) and Jaja: apple wine, webpage : https://la-cidrerie.fr/crbst_2.html

Further info on ciders:

The House of Ciders of Brittany : https://www.maisoncidricoledebretagne.bzh/qui-sommes-nous/

The Ciders of France on well chosen ciders : https://www.cidresdefrance.fr/bien-choisir-son-cidre/

The Bretagne region tourist office on ciders : https://www.brittanytourism.com/matching-what-i-want/food-drink/drinks/breton-cider-apple-juice/

There you go folks, a wonderful product part of my lovely Bretagne and the gastronomic excellence of my belle France, Enjoy the ciders of Brittany, you will be glad , I am telling you !

And remember, happy travels,, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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