The story behind Eric Bordelet and how he became the greatest cider producer in the world is an incredibly interesting one. Eric began his career in wine as a Sommelier where he worked his way up to Head Sommelier at Alain Passard’s 3-star restaurant l’Arpège in Paris. It was there in 1989 where he met famed winemaker Didier Dagueneau who persuaded him to return to his family’s own estate back home in Normandy and consider making cider and perry like you would wine; vintage specific, varietal specific and cuvées split between specific sites or blends.
So in 1992, he did just that, moving home to take over his family’s orchard, which at the core of it is planted with indigenous, ancient, and heirloom varietals of apple and pear trees that were around 40-50 years old, but with some as much as 300 years old. Eric also went on to plant additional pure-varietal (non-hybrid) trees which are divided between sweet, bitter and sour taste profiles; essential for producing blended ciders with complexity.
At present Eric works with 20 varietals of apples, 14 varietals of pears, and the orchard is planted on fine silt and clay soils over a schist and granite bedrock. The orchard is farmed Biodynamically and has been certified since 1996. In terms of harvest, despite the large size of his orchard, everything is always picked (or picked-up) by hand and taken in wooden cases to the winery. The fruit is generally left to dehydrate for three to five weeks, after which time it is pressed into wooden vats to ferment (one exception: Sydre Argelette, which is skin-macerated like an orange wine). The ‘wines’ are then racked two or three times to help clarify the juice and they are bottled before fermentation is complete under cork and cage. The ciders (traditionally called ‘sydre’ or ‘sidre’ depending on region) and perry (‘poiré’) are then aged until Eric deems them ready for release. In addition to the ciders he also produces Cormé, a 15th century cider-like beverage but made entirely from Corms (don't worry, we had to wikipedia this too!), along with Calvados, and Mistelle, which is 10 year aged Apple or Pear Juice, fortified with Calvados... it doesn't take long to realise Eric is very very interested in the tradition of his craft!
A quick guide:
Cuvées de Soif (Cider made for drinking):
Nouvelle Vague (Dry cider, from apples, 5L minikeg only)
Sidre Brut (Dry Cider, from apples)
Sidre Brut Tendre (Off-dry Cider, from apples)
Sidre Tendre (Medium-sweet Cider, from apples)
Poiré Authentique (Dry Perry, from pears)
Jus de Pommes à Sydre (Non-alcoholic light sparkling, from apples)
Cuvées Gastronomique (Cider made for food-pairing/gastronomy):
Sydre Argelette (Off-dry Cider, from apples, skin-macerated, schist soils)
Poiré Granit (Off-dry Perry, from pears, 300yo trees, granite soils)
Cormé (Off-dry Cider, from corms)
Mistelle de Pommes à Sydre (Digestif, 10yr barrel-aged Cider juice, fortified with Calvados)
Mistelle de Poires à Poiré (Digestif, 10yr barrel-aged Perry Juice, fortified with Calvados)