The story behind apple cider from Pays d’Auge begins fifteen hundred years ago in the 6th century, at when the apple seed had reached what is now modern day Normandy (Northwest France) from its native continent, Africa. Fermenting apple juice was already a well-established tradition at the time, the alcoholic product known to the Normands as “Sicera,” meaning “intoxicating beverage.” There, in the favorable geography of Normandy, the apple trees flourished and diversified over the centuries, and with this developed a local savoir-faire for cider production.
But World Wars I and II incurred detrimental economic and agricultural effects that took a disastrous toll on cider production. However, the subsequent economic rebound in the late 20th century inspired cider producers in Auge to seek protection for their special beverage, acquiring in 1996 what would become a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for the Cider from Pays d’Auge.
The Pays d’Auge is a small appellation area occupying the easternmost part of the Calvados département in Normandy, encroaching slightly into two of Calvados’ joining départements: Orne and Eure. All apples used in the Pays d’Auge cider must come from this strictly defined region and are smaller in size and different taste than those sold for human consumption. There are four categories of apples sweet, bittersweet, bitter, and sour, though %70 of the apples selected for cider-making fall into the bitter and bittersweet categories. Cider artisans expertly mix apples from different categories to strike the perfect balance between taste, body and aroma.
A proper glass of cider from Pays d’Auge will have a deep yellow color that ranges from mustard to amber, topped with a trace of tiny bubbles around the rim. Aging the cider will change the nature of its sophisticated aroma, from fruity and floral in its youth to woody and spiced when more mature. To the tongue the cider is well-bodied and rounded, with a bittersweet finish and the carbonation gives it a wonderful freshness. Such characteristics make cider from Pays d’Auge a versatile accompaniment to savory and sweet dishes alike, though many choose to enjoy it on its own as a pre-dinner aperitif.
For more information: http://www.idac-aoc.fr/en/les-cidres-aop/le-cidre-pays-d-auge.html