Tucked away in northwest France, the apple-growing regions of Normandy and Brittany have been supplying the rest of that country with swiggable ciders for centuries. A far cry from the mass-produced sippers that have been exploding in popularity here in the U.S., these French cidres show remarkable depth, often brought about through the regions’ traditional method of fermentation.
The process, called keeving, deprives the yeasts of proper nutrients, inhibiting the complete conversion of sugar to alcohol and yielding a slightly sweet, low-alcohol product. The area’s bittersweet apples are the key to this fermentation, providing the perfect tannin-to-acid balance.
While most of these ciders offer a good amount of earthy funk, well-made offerings conjure memories of a fall jaunt through a U-pick orchard—dried hay, fragrant apples and even cinnamon-dusted donuts. With more of these ciders crossing the Atlantic, now is the time to give French bottles a try.
Cyril Zangs This Side Up; $23. Like a corn maze of flavors, it’s easy to get lost among the rows of spiced quince, orange rind and sea-spray in this complex, dry cider. To make things easy, point the arrow on the label toward your mouth and gulp with gusto.
Le Père Jules Brut Cidre de Normandie; $18. This cider brings just the right amount of elegance to a rustic backdrop—think high tea in the mountains. Peach and jasmine ride over dried hay and button mushroom, making this sophisticated drink a must-have for your next glamping adventure.
Manoir du Kinkiz Cuvée Blanche; $26. Limited-production small-batch keeving has imparted ripe stone fruit and elegant florals to this golden pour, making the Kinkiz (pronounced keen-kees) a downright turn-on. Perfect for a cozy night in with someone special.
Eric Bordelet Sidre Tendre; $16. From a former rock-star sommelier of the Parisian wine scene, this slightly sweet cider is produced from the fruit of apple trees more than 50 years old. Tones of baked apple drizzled with honey beg to be paired with warm apple pie à la mode. Don’t let the sweetness fool you—there’s enough tannin and acid to please even dry-seeking palates.
Le Brun Brut Cidre de Bretagne; $9. Something streamlined and to the point—what’s required when hoards of costumed demons are running amuck during Halloween. While the kids are preoccupied with snack-size candies, grab a glass of this crisp, quince-inflected cider to help steady your nerves.