Sunday 22 July 2012

Chateau du Breuil Calvados (20 years old)

And now for something completely different... and completely special too.

Sometimes I get the urge to be insanely sad. I am convinced I am not a slave to cider, but at certain points its not only me that questions this! I was invited to dinner at a relatives. They had been to France and were, in fact, the ones who gave me the bottle of Chateau du Breuil cider reviewed not so long ago on here. So I knew about this bottle (they had made the mistake of bragging about it to me or some such). So I managed to persuade them to get it out:-)

Why is it special? Well, to start with it is bloody expensive. A 20 year old Calvados is going to be, isn't it! Also, on top of that its not exactly the largest bottle ever made. So its either going to be amazing or else a total dog. Going by their cider, which was very nice, I am sure its more towards the first.

So, what is the first thing I notice about the bottle. Its an IWSC winner - a silver medal displayed proudly across the neck of the bottle. "So what?" - well, in case you haven't read the 'scoring system' page of this blog, I pinched part of the scoring system from IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition). Although these reviews are not competitive, blind judged or anything like that, I love the idea of ranking as Gold, Silver and Bronze. It means that I can have as many favourite ciders as I like without having a scoring system that restricts this. There are many different profiles of cider out there and no single one deserves to be more top of the pile than another - plus its all a bit of fun in any case. I doubt many take my scoring or awards that seriously. Well, I hope they don't.

Oddly, I used to work alongside the IWSC a few years back and got to see how scrupulous and absolutely dedicated to transparancy they were. Its quite impressive, although I believe quite expensive to enter. I think that is one of the reasons I naturally thought of them when setting up Cider Pages.

And so, on to this Calvados. As you can see from the picture, it is brown and clear. What you won't be able to tell is that it smells incredibly smooth - gently alcoholic (when in fact it is very alcoholic) and, a great surprise to me, you can still smell a bit of cider in it.

This calvados is velvety smooth. There is no bitterness or grabbing bite as with younger Calvados - its is really very luxurious to the taste. And the fact that the cider has survived as a part of the flavour for 20 years in the barrel either means it was a stonking cider to start with or else it has been treated really very gently indeed. I can even get whiffs of tannin out of it (which should really be long gone). This isn't a Calvados for pancakes - this is a Calvados to be appreciated on its own, probably in an orchard at sunset I expect:-)

There is a lingering note to this Cavados that doesn't let you go for ages. For me, it was washed away a bit at the end by a cup of coffee. I guess that is its purpose - an aperitif or apres dejeuner drink which is taken little by little in the company of friends and family. OK, waxing a little too lyrical about it here, but if you have a few quid to spare and you are in search of what surely must be the benchmark in Calvados (or even, dare I say it, Cider Brandy) then this is definitely worth it.

On relfection, this is a useful review to work with other of Mr Temperley's Cider Brandy's. I am by no means an expert, but I suspect that I will be drawing comparisons when I get to the older versions of the British equivalent of this. I should also say that I will be more discerning about Calvados in future - I really didn't think they could be this smooth!

A score of 95/100 is an assured Gold apple from Cider Pages... though I suspect that even if they did find this review they will be sticking to their IWSC Silver medal:-)

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