Monday, 8 October 2012

Itineraire des Saveurs Cidre de Cournouaille

"There are some fantastic French cidres and some really bad ones too." Before I visited France to try cidre for the first time, I remember a good cider making friend offering me that advice. It was kind of backed up in CAMRA's excellent book, 'Cider' too. "Avoid the supermarket cidre and stick with stuff that is 'Appellation Controllee'" - or so I was told.

Well, this cidre comes from a supermarket - Intermarche to be precise. Near Coulommiers, not far from Paris. Look at the label - it certainly has own brandness about it and its as near to Bretagne as Bristol is to Newcastle:-) Well, if its all I can get hold of, then its worth reviewing as it may be all you can get... and that is justification enough (well, I guess I don't really need an excuse to try something new:-)

Itineraire des Saveurs is a label that comes up on all sorts of produce within an Intermarche; from cidre and cheese to cured meats and vegetables. This cidre was actually made by Ciderie Bigoud - I guess in much the same way as Westons produces many of the own brand ciders in the UK. So, lets give it a go and see how own brands stack up. For the purposes of this review, I have left the own brand name as the title simply because that is the most likely form it will b found as.

Its a moderately fizzy cidre, filtered clear with a nice head on it. Being from Bretagne, it ought not taste like Normandy cidre, and sure enough the aroma is much deeper - more tannic and less fruity.

I have to say the taste is very interesting. Its still light and a touch fruity in a fermented apple kind of way, but I reckon this is because it has been allowed to come closer to finishing its fermentation - therefore less juice and more alcohol. The tannins are restrained though (it has been halted at 5.5%, so its still not UK style). However, it is refreshingly light and not a bit horrible.

I will say that it is safe. It hasn't been allowed to develop a character - or its been a touch engineered to meet the supermarkets design. This is something gleaned from a communication from Weston's on this blog previously - and if it is done in the UK, then I have no doubt it's done in France too.

On the whole, this is not a disappointing cidre at all. OK, its not the best but its certainly not 'bad'. Only on the mild aftertaste, which is fairly short, that you get the 'engineering' failures of so many supermarket ciders - the tannin fizzles out almost instantly and you are left with a little fruit and watery taste.

A score of 65/100 is very respectable and, whilst I agree the best place to buy cidre is either from the farm itself or locally (at a deli, for example) if you are stuck, then this is an OK cidre to have on your table at dinner time:-)


  1. You say "Westons produces many of the own brand ciders in the UK" - do you know which ones? Can you point me towards any "official" references detailing these?

  2. If only it were that simple:-)

    In actual fact, often Westons name is on the bottle - off the top of my head, its on the front label for M&S (generally) and sometimes on the back label for Sainsburys and Tescos.

    Do note that I only ever confirm 'Westons' when I can see their name on the bottle in my reviews. However, if the name isn't on there then look at the distinctive shape of the bottle and the words 'traditional family owned Herefordshire cider maker'.

    You could also try asking them... to my mind, they have only ever confirmed one to me though.

    Hope that helps a bit.

  3. Thinking on my response, I ought to point out that Weston's are not the only supplier to 'own brands'. Both Sheppy's and Thatchers also make own brands. If the name isn't on the bottle (and more often it is these days) then compare the shape and description. Its by no means a guarantee of source (I can buy Westons shaped bottles at my local Homebrew shop) but more often then not turns out to be correct when speaking to employees of said companies.

    My favourite 'own brand' is Co-Op's Tillington Hills - which is also probably the only one not made by the usual suspects.