Julien Frémont! Ciders & More

Sidra. Apfelwein. Cidre. Cider. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s safe to say few drinks on the planet compare to the glorious fermented juice of freshly squeezed apples. And even fewer ciders can hold a candle to those produced by the legend that is Julien Frémont.

Since 1999, Julien has been at the helm of his centuries-old family estate in the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy in northern France – aka ground zero for Camembert cheesemaking and a world capital for apple farming. His property comprises some 40 hectares, all organically certified and biodynamically tended, which are home to Norman cattle and more than 20 apple varieties.

As you’ve probably gathered, harvest here is done only by hand, with the help of antique equipment, including a water-powered cloth-and-wood press that dates back to the 1800s. Fermentation occurs in 100-plus year-old foudres without temperature controls or cultured yeast, and no additions are made to the dazzlingly complex final product.

Keener eyes amongst you will recognise the Cidre Brut Par Nature and Silex Cidre du Fort Manel, which are back in stock and both ripper introductions to this incredible gear. The former is finely beaded, desert-island dry and offers up the earthy bitterness of the fruit’s skin and core. The latter is a mineral-rich reflection of the flinty soils on which some of the ancient trees grow. The equally wonderful Poiré has returned to the shelves, too, which is made exactly the same way, only with pears.

This year also brings two new additions to the stable. The Piterne Cidre is a 50/50 blend of 2021 cider fermented in a 400-litre Calvados barrel and 2022 cider still in the process of fermenting. What emerges is bracingly invigorating, with pronounced bitterness, acidity and drive. Ooh yeah. The Quévrue Cidre, by contrast, is all 2021 juice that’s been fermented and matured in Italian amphora, resulting in a wine-like, terracotta-textured thing of beauty with soft tannins and extraordinary length. Quantities are super limited, so get in quick.

Of course, where there’s excellent cider, there’s almost always excellent distilling doing down as well. For our dollar, Frémont’s Calvados is just about the best around – rich and round, loaded with orchard scents and gentle peppery spice. For something brighter and breezier, give the Pommeau a crack; it’s 75/25 blend of unfermented apple juice and high-proof Calvados that makes for a wicked apéritif over ice. And, of course, if you want to treat yourself to the most soigné cider vinegar out there, Frémont has your number. Remember, an apple a day they say…

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