Spirits/Calvados/Calvados Michel Huard
Calvados has three appellations: The Pays d'Auge demands double distillation and is usually made with only apples. Calvados Domfrontais uses a single distillation and must contain at least 30% pears. The largest appellation is simply called AOC Calvados, and its crus are spread all over Normandy. Spirits from these areas are normally made with only apples and are single-distilled.
The Huard family have lived on the Le Pertyer property in the Suisse-Normand for five generations. Jean-Francois Guillouet, who recently took over for his retired grandfather Michel, is the seventh generation. If one were to consider the properties of Camut and Giard from the Domaine de Montreuil as the most stunning examples of hautes-tiges plantings in thePays d'Auge, and Lemorton as the most revered property in the Domfrontais, the Huard property would have to be considered the most admired in AOC Calvados.
video: Oscar Beckmann
Nearly 1,800 trees on standard rootstock grace the 15 hectare (37 acre) property. The soil is loamy, composed of an ideal combination of silt and clay. About 30 varieties of apples are grown on the property, predominantly from the sweet and bittersweet categories.
The cider is fermented and aged for about eight months, then distilled in a traveling column still. The spirits then go into large, elongated barrels, stained black by time, or well-seasoned 400 liter barrels where there complex apple flavors develop.
This Hors d'Age release comes from a careful blend of barrels from 1990, 1992 and 1999. It shows deep green apple, vanilla and honey notes, a touch of almond, a soft mouthfeel, and a pleasingly long finish. A step up in development from the entry-level releases and a wonderful representation of the third Calvados appellation!
In December 2015, photographer Michael Housewright accompanied us on a trip to see our spirits producers. Included below are some shots he took during our visit. You can view more of Michael's work at housewrighter.com