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 Under the Apple-Trees  About Anée's Cider and Apple jack/Calvados

If some texts mention apple trees, manufacture and consumption of cider in Normandy in the XIIth century, and some others impute the introduction of "sydre" in the area to navigators from Spain in the VIth century, it seems that it is the invention of the press in the XIIIth century which originated the rise of the Norman cider production ... furthermore, Saint Louis had just forbidden the barley beer in order the barley may be used to jugulate the famine.


And it would be then in the second half of the XIVth century that the apple tree would have appeared around Vimoutiers. Previously, it would have existed there only in a wild state under the name of doucin. Pips are sown, grafting is improved and apple trees are then planted by whole fields. The barley beer is then dethroned in Normandy by the cider which takes its full rise in the XVIth century whereas Guillaume Dursus arriving from Spain, introduces new varieties of apples in the Vallee d'Auge and contributes to the improvement of the fermentation process.


Thence, the cider is fashionable : it becomes a  very appreciated drink of French sovereigns. François 1er tastes it and likes it. In 1588, Julien Paulmier, Kings Charles IX and Henri III's adulated doctor,  publishes a first treaty "De vino et pomaceo" in which he puts this drink above the wine arguing its medicative virtues. Finally, later in the XVIIIth century, Louis XVI is very fond of the Pays d'Auge cider.


In the XIXth century, vineyards are devastated by the disease and thus the cider production triples. But the First World War drags cider down to its decline. It's said that "in trenches, the WWI Poilus tasted the wine" of which the consumption will then shaden the orchards of Normandy.


The current rediscovery of genuine regional produces should however reassure the ones in love with the Norman orchards since in 1996, the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) Controlled Origin label was granted to the "Cidre du Pays d'Auge".

  Cider per country


The history of the origin of applejack is not more precisely known. The oldest Norman mention seems to be the one in Lord Gilles de Gouberville's diary in 1553 who "in the presence of his host François Tourangeau, requested the manufacture of stills, ..."


Obtained from the distillation of a cider of quality, the applejack named Calvados is aged in very dry oaken casks which give it its particular savour and its amber colouring. This distillation, subject to the "banal" tax  in its time, is carried out by the home distiller. It is in 1942 that the label of Controlled Origin Designation (AOC) was granted to the "Calvados of the Pays d'Auge".

There are three appellations : AOC "Calvados Domfrontais", AOC "Calvados", AOC "Calvados Pays d'Auge" each one respecting strictly geographical areas and a manufacturing process featured by the type of alembic that is used. 

There are two kinds of alembic for the distillation of Calvados :

The alembic of "premier jet", alembic of first jet or column alembic, required in the distillation operations of the "Calvados Donfromtais" and adopted for the "AOC Calvados" apple-brandies.

The alembic "à repasse" which is the traditional alembic required to produce the "Calvados Pays d'Auge" AOC and which ensures a double distillation in two successive heatings. La "bonne chauffe", result of the second one, provides this "Calvados du Pays d'Auge" whose AOC label of origin is exclusively authorized in the area of the Pays d'Auge, County of Trough, to which Vimoutiers belongs.

Calvados spirit


One ton of cider apples gives from 650 to 750 liters of pure cider juice.

Eighteen kilos of cider apples give approximately 13 liters of cider containing +/- 5% of alcohol,

ie about one liter of Calvados at 70% of alcohol.
Then, Calvados has to mature at least for 2 years so that alcohol content drops down to 40%.


Traditional cider making in Pays d'Auge, Normandie




Pays d'Auge

3 Appellations


Apple and cider ... and calvados

01/01/1925 - 21min40s


video"Source INA : Production : Ministère de l'Agriculture



Figures and Apples :

A European annual production of 7.5 million tons of which almost 2 million in France.

In these 2 million, 330.000 tons of cider apples are produced in Normandy, ie half of the national production.

In France, two sweetened savour apples share more than half of the market : the golden delicious 38% and the royal gala 14%.

If Romans counted 37 varieties of apples, in the XVIth century, pomology enumerated a hundred varieties and in the XIXth century, the horiculturist Andre Leroy described more than 500 : nowadays, about 7500 varieties are indexed.

It is said that at the beginning of last century, more than 2000 varieties were enumerated in the township of Vimoutiers. Nowadays, the label "Cider of Pays d'Auge" requires the selection of only a fifty of them.

Apple represents a market of 610 million euros, on a purely comparative basis, pastas represent 410 million euros.
A household buys an average of 18kgs of apples per year, the apple is the first fruit bought in volume with 20% of the market followed by the orange with 15% and the banana 12%.
Elderly persons eat twice more apples than the young people.


Variation on the Apple :

"No fruit is more famous than the apple. It should be said that it got the advantage from the first worldwide best seller, the Bible, which made a lot for the mediatization of this highly symbolic fruit. On the other hand, what no one is aware of is the type of apple trees that could grow in the Paradise, as well as the variety of the apple that Adam and Eve bit into.


Crossed by a rainbow and bitten on its right part, the apple is the symbol of Apple Computers, created in 1976.

Chubby and green, it was the emblem of Apple Corp', the production company of the discs of the Beatles founded in 1968.
Gold apple or bone of contention, it was the cause of the fall of Troie, and poisened, it was offered to Snow White.

It was a great source of inspiration for Cezanne, Magritte and Giacometti and, in four syllables -Pom-Pom-Pom-Pom- it summarizes perfectly the Fifth symphony of Beethoven.
While falling on Newton's head, the Flower of Kent variety gave rise to the law of Universal Gravitation, etc ...


United States had a fabulous propagandist in the person of Johnny "Appleseed" who, in the XVIIIth century, travelled through the North-East of the country, the pockets full with pips that he sowed everywhere where a tree seemed to be able to take roots."


Tell me the Apple :

The apple, emblem of wisdom and supreme power among Romans,

Apple, "this beautiful fruit" thus named by Homer,

The apple, a terrific cold sweat for William Tell,

The apple which made David's fortune, the first Rockefeller whose the legend tells that he started his fortune by selling an apple of which the benefit enabled him to repurchase two of them.
The Big Apple to indicate New York : If in popular folklore, the name is usually traced to early Jazz musicians in reference to the trac which produces a lump in the throat, at the level of the Adam's apple, and or to the resumption of this term by John J. Fitzgerald, who in the twenties, entitled his chronicle on the horse-races "Around the big Apple", factually the origin would be at the image of the fruit, ie pulpy ... It would come indeed from Miss Evelyne Claudine de Saint-Evremond, called Eve, who forsaken by John Hamilton that she was to marry, established a "discreet temple of love" at 142 Bond Street, then one of the city's most exclusive residential districts. The girls, many of them fresh arrivals from Paris or London, were noted for their beauty and bearing. Evelyn would refer to these temptresses in her employ as "my irresistable apples."


Pomology :


"Eat an apple going bed makes the doctor beg his bread"

"Une pomme chaque matin chasse le médecin"