Two French Brothers. Normandy vs Breton

Our IT guy has been on a trip to France. Even while he was on holiday, he thought about me, (I do call him often), and returned with two bottles of French cidre. He did admit that one might be a bit ‘local supermarket’ and the other is a bit posher.

They both come in very similar, corked bottles. First up will be La Fauconneire Cidre de Normandie. Norman from the falconry is a 5% brut, (dry), cider.


Cidre de Normandie

Yes, it’s supermarket style. Golden, clear and slightly sparkling. Norman smells a bit like toffee and sherry, with a hint of second-hand shop. Maybe a touch of wee, too. The aftertaste is dusty and stale, like being in a theatre, while wearing old leather.

Norman doesn’t have a website.
Old Skool.

Next up is Les Trois Feres Jan. That’s French talk for Three Brothers John. This one ain’t a le Tesco special, no, this one has won the gold medal from the Breton Ciderical House. I’d like to work there! No bright colours here – the John brothers clothe themselves in subtle, earthy tones, with an accent of gold and live in a chateau. Château de Lézergué, to be accurate.


Les Trois Freres Jan

Like its poorer cousin, it still comes with a cork. Reasonably similar in colour and taste, although the Johns lack the mouldy council flat taste. This one smells of velvet curtains and grand pianos, and expensive-looking vases in the hallway, and velvety-soft, toilet paper, with the tip turned into a point.

At 4.5%, it relies more on taste than strength, like myself.

It tastes a bit more healthy. You can tell by the freshly chopped apples in the background. If you look carefully, you can also see an onion and garlic bulb. That means it’s very French. I only had a red onion, but that’s a sign of decadence.

Hold up, Brother John, I spot a bit of dustiness in there! Maybe the cleaner hasn’t been in this week? Or maybe there’s not so much difference between these two cousins. Perhaps Norman made a bad decision, which spiralled out of control and fell on bad times, or maybe Brother John is all heirs and graces, and is really just chip butties and Skol in front of the telly, in his duds.
When no one is looking.

Just like all humans came from the Rift Valley 70,000 years ago, all apples descended from the same tree in Georgia, apparently. Norman and John are from the same tree.

      But one’s a bit crap.

Verdict: Norman 2.5/5, The Johns 4/5


Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut

Bonjour. Un kilo des pommes, sil vous plait.

Some time ago, I was given a bottle of posh French cider, by my colleague, who’s boyfriend works in a nice restaurant. Merci beaucoup, Wes!Eric Bordellet

I decided this was a good time to write about a French cider, since some mentals in Paris decided that their god was upset that someone was drawing cartoons of him, and went on a rampage. It seems odd that anyone would put all their faith in a god who is so self-conscious and short tempered. I’d like to propose we all have a cider in the name of peace.

I’ve said it before, you don’t get a violent cider drinker. In fact, I bet God is a cider drinker. To get into the mood, I decide to have a bit of a French theme tonight and, while the cider is chilling, I pop out to Sainsbury’s to get a baguette and some fromage. I try to remember anything from French lessons at school, unfortunately I used to found the teacher dull and I wondered what was the point, France was so far away–in those days, I thought Scotland was exotic!

Eric Bordellet shoot

Stereotypically, for the photo shoot, I include a bulb of garlic, and a mini Eiffel tower on top of a phrase book, in the background. Popping out the cork, (it’s like a fine champagne), the cider is a warm golden colour, with a natural sparkle. Sacre bleu! Le bouquet is rich and sweet and cinder-toffee but the aftertaste changes. It smells more powerful than I expected and the taste is drier than the French ciders I’ve previously had. C’est bon, j’aime. That’s French for, ‘It’s nice, I like’.

It has un peu bitterness, a bit like a dessert apple cider, a Golden Delicious sitting in an orchard in the warm, late summer sun in a beret, nonchalantly smoking a cigarette. Ou est la syndicate d’initiative?

The Port Salut cheese is nice on the warm baguette, but it’s a bit too mild for this cider. One of those dodgy old mouldy cheeses would be a better partner for this Gallic brute. I avoid munching through the bulb of garlic. This 5.5% dry sidre is made by Eric Bordellet, who used to be pictured on his website with his head between the legs of a tree, to the sound of Super Mario-style music. Thankfully it’s recently been tastefully redesigned. The site tells me he used to be a sommelier, and has produced ciders and perries since 1992. Based in Normandy, he grows a range of apple and pear varieties, and pays as much attention to cider making as one would to creating a fine wine. Good man. You can find Eric Bordellet ciders in the UK, via Le Caves de Pyrene.

Let’s see if I can translate this stuff on the back of the bottle… ‘Fruity flavours are produced from the living land and rocks by guys anxious to please our senses and for our good health’. Oui, I’m sure that’s what it means


A well-rounded cider, with a touch of class. Mange touts

Cave Saint Michel, canalside, Crévic, France

I got picked up in Nancy Ville by a couple of sailors.

De Volendammer

No, it’s not the start of a George Formby song, I’ve a couple of friends living on an old sea barge, who collected me from the train station in Nancy, France. I’m looking forward to see what the French countryside has to offer. Nancy is very fancy, lots of white stone and gilded things, it’s like a big cake! We’re moored on the canal, and spend a night out on the cobbles of Nancy, drinking dark beers, the next day we sail eastwards along the canal at 6mph. I even got to steer the boat, although they call it sailing.

My job, this weekend, is ‘lock elf’, fending off the advances of the slippery lock walls and boatfulls of drunken German teens in sailor caps, with my big rubber fender. Although it sounds like the plot of a top-shelf title, it’s nice to be part of the crew After at least ten locks, very few scratches and no man overboards, we reach a convenient mooring next to the town of Crevîc, or Crevice, as we decide to call it, which sounds much more entertaining.

However, anyone who lives in this town must be hiding in a crevice, as there’s no one around, only one shop open, selling newspapers and a few bits and pieces. Not a pop-up cider bar in sight! Fortunately, my resourceful sea dog friends have stocked up on plonk, including a French cider, from Cave St Michel.Cave St Michel

After robbing some blackberries from some French dude’s back garden, we settle in for the night, on the boat, and crack open le cidre. I can’t find out much about this one, but I’m told Cave St Michel is an island off the north of France. I’m not sure that’s true, or maybe I imagined it.

This cider was recommended to my friends, by a beer buff who runs the Sashuis Astene in Belgium. It’s a 5%, golden orange filtered cider, lightly sparkling. The smell is syrupy-smoky with sweet apples. The taste is strong with a smoky aftertaste, No so much the brut it suggested on the label, but it rather sweet. My seafaring ciderkicks also like it.

A good start to the holiday. I wonder if all the folks of the ghost town of Crevîc are all staying at home with a cidre on this Friday night. Or out wondering where their blackberries are.

Verdict: 4/5

Breton Cidre at The French House

Or should I say ‘Cidre Breton au Maison Francais’?

Ok, let’s stick to English.

Cider doesn’t sound like the usual French drink, not being wine and all, but along with the Brits, and the Norse, the French do make a lovely cider, the clever chaps. Well, the gallic peoples of Brittany, Wales and Cornwall share common roots, and apparently, a  liking of cider-making. In true French style it usually comes in classy green bottles, (like Merrydown, but posh).

Being treated to a free binge (courtesy of Ruark Audio, Cheers!), the hardcore drinkers stumble into The French House. A nice little pub on Soho, which prides itself on its bohemian culture and having numerous artistic patrons over the years, like Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon.Cidre

I wondered why it’s called the French House, so looking this up on the old Wikipedia, turns out it was opened by a German in 1910, but he was kicked out when the Great War began, and it was then run by Belgians until 1989 and was named the French House in 1984 from the nickname it had received. Considering this, it’s possibly ton a par with Americans calling a pub run by some Scots, ‘The English House’. Thankfully those jolly Belgians didn’t glass the customers for their faux pas.

Doubting the presence of a cider in this continentally influenced bar, I’m very happy to see a Breton Cider bottles in the fridge, they even have litre bottles! I stick to the small one. Several of them.

This Breton cider by Ets Guillet Frères, from Guenrouet, France, has a bit of a cloudy look to it, 5%, and with a merry peasant sitting on a barrel, getting lashed, printed on the front, this is warming up to be a good one

It has a dry, warm, woody taste. Just a little bubbly and lots of tannin, like the trees of the sun-drenched French apple orchards, it came from. In fact, there’s so much wood, I think there’s bits of the barrel, still in it. Now, I’m cycling through the fields of Brittany with my string of onions and a basket full of cidre (1 litre bottles) on my way to meet my inebriated peasant friend before he falls off the barrel.

However, as there’s a no technology rule in this pub, I do feel a bit rude typing in notes on my phone, beneath the ‘No Mobiles’ sign behind the bar (it’s detrimental to conversation), we’ll, I’ll shut up now.