Cidre from Cornouaille, or Cornwall Cider, is a renowned apple cider produced in the northwestern part of France in the historic région of Brittany. The orchards responsible for bearing the apples for this delicious cider span across 38 communes in Brittany, most of which touch the Atlantic Ocean. This vast stretch of apple orchards is known as the “rias of a thousand apple trees,” and is situated in a prime geographic location for diverse and profuse apple production. The optimal land and growing conditions, combined with decades of local harvest and processing techniques have earned Cornwall Cider its protected designation of origin (PDO), making it the first and only protected cider from the Brittany region.
The Cornwall orchards are individually accredited, maintained and harvested according to a technique called La Production Fruitière Intégrée (PFI), or “integrated fruit production.” This process requires the use of production methods that are reasonable, responsible and respectful to the environment and the consumer’s health. In other words, the orchards are left to thrive in the idyllic conditions that the region provides naturally. These orchards and the fruits they supply rely heavily on the diverse bee population that they shelter. The pollinators are efficient to such an extent that human intervention in the apple cultivation process only permitted exclusively for the purpose of maintaining their population.
The apples themselves are grouped into three general categories according to the tastes they impart on the cider: the Bitter, tannic apples lend the most structure to the cider, the Sweet apples give the sugar content and the Tart ones add zest and freshness to the beverage. Cornwall Cider makers examine each batch of apples before selecting and blending them for processing. The blend of apples demands an expertise on behalf of the artisan producers and depends greatly on the desired type of cider: sweet (<3% alcohol and > 42g of sugar), demi-sec (3.5-4% alcohol and between 28g-42g of sugar) and brut (5-6% alcohol and fewer than 28g of sugar).
The finished Cornwall cider is made of 100% pure apple juice and has a gold-orange color. Carbonation occurs naturally during the in-bottle fermentation, which creates a generous coat of aromatic foam upon uncorking. To the tongue, the first taste of the cider can be startlingly assertive depending on the variety. The initial intensity of the cider soon dissipates and reveals a wonderful complexity of floral and spicy flavors in the mouth.