Le Lieu Cheri

Ouilly le Vicomte
Cidre de Normandie
Patrice Desfrieches
Alexandre Desfrieches

The Desfrieches have farmed in the Vallée de la Touques, part of the Pays D’Auge in Normandy, for four generations with the traditional mix of orchards and cows. Today, it is Fabrice and his son Alexandre who manage their 19 hectares of orchards, mostly apples, including some 100+ year old trees, and some pear trees. They have always made calvados but started producing cider, which is Alexandre’s responsibility, only in 2006. Although not certified organic, the Desfrieches farm traditionally, favoring biodiversity, and do so without the use of chemicals.

Cidre Fermier Brut

The cider is blended from up to 20 varieties of apples with a predominance of bittersweet varieties. The apples are harvested between September and December once they have fallen to the ground and the Desfrieches make two or three passes for each tree. The fermentation occurs from indigenous yeasts and after a number of rackings and a light filtration, the cider is bottled without the addition of more yeast. It finishes its fermentation in bottle, in a cool cellar (50◦F) over the course of 4 to 6 months.

Region: Normandie / Bretagne

The list of apple varieties grown in France is daunting with over 600 varieties having been identified. Over the centuries, apple varieties have been cultivated locally, so that from one small area of Normandy or Brittany to the next, the varieties of apples will change and thus so will the expressions of the ciders. The varieties are categorized by flavor type: tart, bitter, sweet, tart-sweet and bitter-sweet. Each cider producing area has developed a regional style based on their particular blend of flavor types and using the local varieties within each category...

In the last couple of years Barbara and I have been attracted to wines with lower and lower alcohol levels and French ciders at 4% to 5.5% certainly meet that criterion. More importantly, though, the ciders that we have chosen achieve the difficult balance of our favorite wines, which is the combination of lightness and intensity.

All industrial and most independent cider producers have abandoned traditional methods of cider production and prefer to use selected yeasts for fermentation, pasteurization to end the primary fermentation and gasification instead of a natural secondary fermentation.

Happily, there is still a group of cider producers who want to make cider following the traditions of natural yeasts and without using either pasteurization or gasification. These are the producers that are passionately resisting the sterility of modernization and who merit our support.