What a discovery this was. I've been waiting a while to get this cidre into Australia and now it is finally here. Not only is it super delicious (like really, really delicious), but it's extremely well priced considering the quality. Great to drink on it's own, with cheese, or with a meal. Natural wine lovers, artisan cidre lovers and even craft beer lovers will love this. If you think you don't like cidre, this will change your mind.
Christophe Bouvet created La Ferme du Vastel back in 2007. The farm is owned by his grandparents and has been in the family for over 150 years. Located in one of the most northern points in Normandy, it is perfect for the production of high quality cidre. The farm had been relatively untouched since the 1960’s, until he decided to revitalise it with plans to make cidre and grow other produce. On the farm Christophe now grows various fruits, elderflower, hazelnuts and of course apples. He even extracts sap from birch trees! Aside from his grandparents land, he also leases some orchards to ensure there are enough apples in any given season. He sells his products at the local market and to tourists during holiday seasons. With tiny production there is not much to go around, with cidres going to local restaurants and shops, Paris, and a few other parts of France. The only International markets are Japan, Korea and now Australia! All orchards are certified organic, although Christophe takes it beyond the certified requirements ensuring life is prevalent everywhere, promoting biodiversity as much as possible. Over the years he has restored balance to the farm, creating a healthy and thriving environment. He has around 30 different varieties of apples. The apples are all collected manually by hand during Autumn, and usually there are two harvests, sometimes three. The grass is cut before harvest, to ensure the apples are easy to see – they are very small! The apples are collected in baskets and are full at about 10-12kg. They are brought back and left outside on a large tarps to ripen further for one to two weeks. They are then sorted and cleaned by hand before being pressed. Fermentation occurs in 2000L tanks with the natural yeasts and last several months. Several rackings occur in the cold weather, so as not to speed up the fermentation. He does a very light filtration with a cardboard plate filter - the coarsest possible, to remove a minimum of lees but without having too limpid a cidre, which would risk losing aromas. There is no addition of sulfur, malic acid or water - these are very natural cidres.