CHÂTEAU DE HAUTEVILLE, Eric Bordelet – Charchigné, South Normandy – Biodynamic
It was Didier Dagueneau who convinced Eric Bordelet, former sommelier at Paris’s three Michelin star Arpège restaurant, to develop a new, artisan style of cider, a natural product of character and thirst-quenching ability, which would also work with a wide range of different food. And so Eric refurbished his family’s ancestral orchards and ciderworks and would use his knowledge of viticulture to push for the highest level of quality.
The biodynamically farmed orchards – covering roughly 15 hectares – are situated in southern Normandy. The land is composed of schists and sedimentary rocks dating back to the pre-Cambrian period three million years ago. The granite and broken schists form a complex soil and sub-soil that provides the foundation for the terrain.
Eric grows 20 varieties of apples and 15 varieties of pear. Some of his pear trees are over 300 years old.
After the process of selecting, crushing, pressing and settling, the natural traditional fermentation takes place in vat or barrel and in bottle over weeks and months according to the amount of residual sugar in the respective cuvées and therefore without the addition of any sugar.
With an Ecocert certification for biodynamic farming and a scrupulous attention to detail Eric Bordelet makes wonderful natural products that are far removed from the denatured, gassy drinks that masquerade under the cider label. His classic ciders can age for five to seven years, with the Granit able to go to ten years to develop superb complexity of flavour. Bordelet says that the impression of sweetness improves with age, the same as with older wines.
The Poiré Granit is the sublime expression of pears from ancient trees, now measuring over twenty metres, which like all the other trees in the orchard have never been sprayed. The tradition says that it takes one hundred years for the trees to grow, one hundred years to produce the fruit and one hundred years to die.
The nose expresses stony, mineral notes and gorgeously ripe pear, quince and pineapple. The palate is generously fruited and ripe with more pear and caramel flavours preceding a lively fizz and racy acidity. Bordelet often serves it with pan-fried scallops; it would probably also work beautifully with goat’s cheese.