Beer / Ciders / Manoir de Montreuil
Manoir de Montreuil - Cidre Pays d’Auge
The Manoir de Montreuil is owned by Patrice Giard and his wife Michelle, subsequently joined by their daughter Estelle. The family can trace their history on the property in the hamlet of Montreuil back 12 generations to the 1700’s. The Giard’s domaine, located in the heart of the Cider route, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the Pays d’Auge appellation, especially on a blue sky, fluffy cloud-type of afternoon. It lies on a series of hillsides and valleys a few miles from Cambremer, capital of the cider route. It is an ideal spot to take photographs of a classic Normandy landscape with black and dark brown Normand cows grazing under free standing trees loaded with apples.
The Giards have 30 hectares of apple trees, planted on varying soil: the flat ground is mostly comprised of clay and flint while the slopes are primarily chalk, with very little topsoil. The trees are planted entirely in haute-tige (tall trees that reach heights of 50 feet). Of their 3,000 trees, half of them were planted in 1990 and the other half were planted by Patrice’s father, Roger.
Along with the apple side of their income, they also have about 200 cows, 60 of which are used for milk. Having haute-tige trees serves a double purpose for Giard: his cows are free to graze within the orchard, eating the lush grass, naturally enriching the soil with their excrement and aerating the earth with their weight. It’s a natural cycle that allows the family to work without any soil fertilizers. In August the cows are removed from the orchards so that they don’t eat any of the apples that will soon fall, and so that the apple harvesting is not turned into a highly unpleasant experience by their caca, to put it elegantly.
The apples are a mixture of types: the bitter varieties Domaine, Mettais, Frequin Rouge and Saint Martin, sweet and bittersweet varieties Binet Rouge, Joly Rouge and Bisquet, and acidic varieties Rambault and Petit Jaune. Giard is naturally a defender of the old varieties, which are less productive but have plenty of the tannic compounds called polyphenols and lots of sugar. Some of the newer varieties with fewer polyphenols tend to produce ciders with less color and length.
Apples are collected from the ground between September and December. As with preceding generations, Giard waits for the fruit to fall then collects it after it has been on the ground, sometimes for as long as 3 weeks. He is in no hurry to pick them up, as they are protected from rot by a thick layer of grass beneath the trees. This allows their sugars to concentrate a bit more, and their densities to rise. The juice destined for the Pays d’Auge cider is pressed in a balloon press and then goes into stainless steel tanks. The tanks are slightly heated and fermentation begins naturally using only indigenous yeasts.
The solid elements are pushed to the top by the carbonic gas, and the tanks are drained, leaving behind the solid matter. Fermentation continues until the producer feels his cider is ready to bottle--that is, not too sweet, bitter or acidic. It is then bottled. The bottles are stored standing up while the sugar and yeasts left in the juice react together. After about 6 months, there is sufficient bubble for the cider to be ready to commercialize.
Because the cider has not been disgorged or filtered, there will continue to be a reaction between the yeasts and sugar as the months pass, and natural ciders like this will become drier as time goes on. This is a living product that continues to evolve until it is popped open and consumed!
Manoir de Montreuil “Cru de Cambremer” Cidre AOC Pays d’Auge
Made in the traditional manner of the Pays d’Auge, and only bottled when the producer feels it is ready--that is, not too sweet, bitter or acidic. The bottles are stored standing up while the sugar and yeasts left in the juice react together. After about 6 months, there is sufficient bubble for the cider to be sold. Enticing notes of crisp ripe apples literally jump out of the glass, and on the palate the delicate bubbles marry perfectly with the perfectly balanced sweetness of the apples to form a vivacious, flavor-filled drink.