Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Six Ciders for Christmas Day - Breakfast

Breakfast drinking! Probably only appropriate on two occasions. Your own Wedding Day is one, and who would argue with that, but perhaps the only truly annual excuse for a drink with the cornflakes is Christmas Day.

Champagne or Cava are generally considered the traditional Christmas Breakfast Drinks, which is fair enough I suppose. A bit of fizz in the morning can be a great way to waken the senses and put you in a party mood. Sherry seems to feature too, though for what purpose I'm not sure. Perhaps it's the traditional way of polishing off what Santa couldn't finish the night before.

Now I'm all for tradition, but the problem with Champagne and Sherry are their 'weight'. I want the fizz, and I certainly want a grown-up drink, but let's face it, this Christmas Day thing, it's rather long isn't it! Too much alcohol and there's a very real danger of peaking early and missing the Queen's Speech! I want something bursting with zingy flavour, but relatively light in alcohol...

Which brings me to my first Christmas Cider recommendation. Something fruity and fulsome, lightweight and approachable, yet a cider of exceptionally high quality. I'm talking Classy, Sassy, and a little bit Gassy. I'm talking about something French! Yes, polish up the Champagne glasses, ease out the mushroom cork, and treat yourself to a delicious Cidre Traditionnel from across the channel. It's le jour de Noël...

I've chosen La Bolée du Père Raison (5.5%) from the Breton cidre maker Loïc Raison. It's a sophisticated, traditional sparkling cider, labelled as Brut but with more sweetness than some I've tried. Breton ciders tend to be more full-bodied in style than those from Normandy, and the slight sweetness helps to balance the full tannins and slight toffee-apple richness in this example. There's a lovely zesty fruitiness too which benefits from the restrained sparkle created by the Methode Traditionnel. The smaller bubbles created in the bottle enhance this cider, unlike the harsh fizziness found in most of our more commercial bottled 'ciders'.

I was lucky enough to come across this cider at Sergi's Deli in Spalding, Lincs. They also have a Sweeter (Doux) version which weighs in at a minuscule 2.0% abv. You might be forgiven for thinking this low level of alcohol can only be achieved through the generous addition of water, but in fact those clever French cidermakers have perfected the art of arresting the fermentation before all the sugars have been turned to alcohol, resulting in a naturally sweet, naturally low alcohol cider. Too sweet for my taste, but very good nevertheless.

If you can't get to Sergi's Deli, try your own local Delicatessen, many of which will have a good quality French Cidre. I would also like to recommend the excellent single apple variety Duche De Longueville Cidre... I would like to, but since I haven't come across it in a Sainsbury store for some time now, I can't. Decent sized Waitrose stores also sell a French Cider, but I haven't tried it so can't really recommend that to you either... An internet search should find a number of online retailers of French Cider.

So, the French have it, but not for long! It's time to shove the bird in the oven, scrub the Parsnips, and put little crosses in the Sprout stalks. Set the oven timer, wrap up warm and hit the road. Your local pub needs you now more than ever. It's almost time for the traditional Pre-Dinner Snifter...

1 comment:

Jim Callender said...

Nice choice guys, they look like cracking choices!

hope your guests will appreciate your fine artisnal tastes.