The Renaissance of Quebec Ciders
Quebec ciders, farmhouse, hopped, sparkling natural, fermented with wild yeasts, aged in oak barrels, macerated on grape must… Has the world of Quebec cider fallen on its head? More than ever, cider producers (both well established and newcomers) are taking bold and innovative leaps, and their efforts seem to be paying off: Consumers are buying into their offer! Quebec is experiencing a true cider renaissance and many of our Brome-Missisquoi producers are actively participating in the movement. Here’s an overview of the latest trends.
Ciders are Becoming Much Drier
Quebec ice cider reached its peak in popularity in the ’90s, but has since lost the favour of most consumers. Since those days, cider producers haven’t wasted any time as they adapted their products to a market thirsty for much drier products.
The advantage of dry ciders, with very little or no sweetness, is that we can replace wine with these beverages to accompany a meal. In Quebec, we’re witnessing massive arrivals of 750 ml bottles of cider. These products, with their delicate acidity, sometimes offering a certain bitterness, and even some tannins, can create memorable cider-food pairings.
Alma, compagnie de cidre landed on planet Cider like a comet in 2018. The dynamic entrepreneurs behind this instant success story, Justine Therrien and Julien Niquet, rapidly established themselves in the industry thanks to the originality of their gastronomical offer.
A Must: Assemblage Jaune, Alma, compagnie de cidre
An extra-dry natural cider (0 grams of sugar) made with their orchard grown Spartan apples, and macerated with locally produced pear and Chardonnay marc. It offers a bright hazy yellow colour and is ideal for accompanying a platter of Quebec cheeses!
New Players Competing Through Their Creativity
Over the last few years, several recruits have taken on the world of Quebec ciders by storm! Some of these have reinvested in the old family orchard, while others were motivated by their wish to return to the land. What do they have in common? Their aspirations to work with utmost respect for the environment and apples, plus their boundless creativity!
Three years ago, Gabriel Choinière and his partner Alexa Robitaille established themselves on the Choinière family orchard, in Frelighsburg. Together, they launched the Cidrerie Choinière with the intention of making their mark by opting for a natural approach to produce their terroir ciders. The domain has begun its transition towards organic farming.
A Must: Potato Hill 2018, Cidrerie Choinière
Aged on lees, this cider has a generous nose, offering yellow fruit scents and a natural sparkle. It is fermented with wild yeasts, without filtration and has no added sulfites.
A Boom for Cider Apples
A cider apple is one that is not very good to crunch into nor to cook with. However, it’s ideal for producing cider because it has more tannins, with more complex aromas and more interesting acidities. The great majority of Quebec ciders are developed with our eatable apples, such as McIntosh and Spartan varieties. The results are far from disappointing! However, driven by their innovative spirit, producers are planting and testing more and more apple varieties.
To this effect, we must applaud the exceptional work of Christian Barthomeuf, a producer who has become a living legend in the field of cider and wine production in Quebec. On his Frelighsburg domain, Clos Saragnat, he has been cultivating several varieties of European cider apple trees. The result? Unique Quebec-produced ciders of remarkable quality. Christian Bathomeuf truly stands out by proving that our pioneer cider producers are still on top of their game!
A Must: The box set Le Bon, La Brute et Le Truand, Clos Saragnat
Available in May 2020, this box contains three 750 ml bottles developed using only his orchard’s cider apples. A naturally produced effervescence, with no added sulfites, no filtration, fermented with wild yeasts, all three varieties are certified organic.