All You Need to Know About Calvados

All You Need to Know About Calvados - Spirits of France

What Is Calvados?

Calvados is an apple brandy that is produced exclusively in the region of Normandy, France. The fantastic spirit increasingly keeps coming up on today’s drink menus. It is basically a type of brandy that is named after the region of Normandy.

Made from apple cider, the quality of it depends on the type of soil, orchard, and pressing technique of the fruit. The fruits are usually harvested by hand, and the harvesting period starts in mid-October and continues through to December. The apples are pressed and turned into juice which is then fermented into a dry cider. 

The maturation of Calvados plays a key role. The longer the maturation, the more euphonious the final product will be. In most cases, the maturation is done for several years. So, let’s take a leap and discover the story behind Calvados.

What is Calvados Made From?

To begin with, Calvados is not only made from one kind of apple. There are hundreds of different apples with multiple varieties that frame the delicious story of Calvados. The spirit differs based on the areas where the apples grow. However, the production and methods of ageing also vary. Calvados can be found even in the binary form of Cognac and Armagnac. Occasionally, Calvados is also made from perry or pear cider.

The significant part of Calvados is its status – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). Produced in Normandy, it is somewhat like Cognac, which is a specific brandy distilled only from white wine made from a particular part of certain grapes. On the contrary, Calvados is not distilled from wine grapes but begins as a cider.

Only a small percentage of perry pears is allowed, although the base cider is primarily made from apples. Also, the apples used must be from Normandy only, as the place is home to more than 200 varieties. Producers basically use four types of apples. These are – bittersweet, sweet, bittersharp, and bitter. The bittersweet and bitter apples contribute to 70% of the mix, with only 30% acid and sweet to achieve the perfect balance. Some producers of Calvados prefer the natural scenario of apples falling from the branches, while others speed up the process by harvesting with small machinery to shake them off the branches.

Pears are also used as a part of sweet component to add the fine distinction of the brandy. Also, the process of distillation varies based on the subregions of Normandy. Before the official recognition of 1984 AOC, ten distinctive districts were producing Calvados. Currently, it is broken down into three sub-categories of appellations, and these define the production methods and ingredients. Humidity and temperature also play an important role in the ageing process. 

The apples used to make Calvados are pressed and then fermented, finally distilling into Eau-de- vie. It is then aged for at least a couple of years in oak. The first-ever record of apple Eau-de-vies and brandy dates to the 1500s. It was in the 19thcentury when phylloxera destroyed numerous European vineyards and drastically reduced the supply of Cognac in France. 

Due to this event, a butterfly effect was set in motion as the Calvados gained prominence during this era and traversed continents beyond their birthplace.

Calvados Barrels

Calvados can be aged both in new oak and previously used barrels. The treatment of oak depends on the blend of Calvados. Some brands also prefer aging in three different casks that start with new oak and used barrels that have previously been utilised multiple times. All these factors depend on production. 

The treatment of oak is responsible for imparting certain flavour characteristics and infusing the same into the Calvados.

How to Serve Calvados?

Being an authentic brandy from Normandy, Calvados is traditionally treated as a digestif. It is served with cocktails and makes a luscious, mulled cider when mixed with cinnamon, apple juice, cider, cloves, and brown sugar. The spectrum is broad if you consider the different types of productions, blends, and age categories.

Calvados serves well as an appetizer that basically helps in digestion. Traditionally it was consumed to wrap up the supper and enjoy it like a fine whisky. A tulip-shaped glass is usually the best vessel to serve Calvados. This is because it helps in capturing the exotic aromas of Calvados. However, a small wine glass can also do the trick and can offer you the same luxurious experience.

Calvados can also be used in coffee or with apple sorbet to create the perfect “Trou Normand.” Calvados matches the best when paired with cheese and chocolate. It is also a part of the composition to form a number of classic flambee recipes that include crepes.

Characteristics of Calvados

Calvados features a more complex aroma of spices, baked apples, and vanilla. After a certain period, the scent of Calvados starts to mature, and the colour begins to change. It modifies from light gold to dark amber.

The savour of fresh apples is simply soothing, and this is generally available in newly-made Calvados. The aroma gradually transforms to cooked apple and wood with notes of honey, vanilla, and walnut. 

Where to Shop Calvados in Australia?

You can call it an achievement when you find the best Calvados of Normandy. Spirits of France offers top-class Calvados along with a range of French Spirits and thus provides you with ample opportunities to cherish your achievement in Calvados.

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