Calvados is an apple brandy indigenous to the French region of
Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie).
Apples selected for distillation into Calvados fall into over 200
specially-grown varieties. Several varieties may be used into one brand of
Calvados, ranging from very sweet apples, to tart to bitter, at various
proportions. The fruit is harvested usually by hand from mid-October into
December and pressed into a juice that is subsequently fermented into a dry
It is then distilled into an eau-de-vie, which is in turn blended and matured
for a minimum of two-years in casks. The longer the maturation, the more mellow
the final product. Usually the maturation for Calvados goes on for several
years. The label may contain one of the following terms with reference to the
age: Fine', 'Trois étoiles ', 'Trois pommes' for a Calvados matured for
at least 2 years. 'Vieux' - 'Réserve' is at least 3 years old. 'V.O.'
'VO', 'Vieille Réserve', 'V.S.O.P.' 'VSOP' - at least 4 years old.
'Extra', 'X.O.' 'XO', 'Napoléon', 'Hors d'Age' is at least 6 years
old. Calvados is sold much older, typically at 6, 8, 12, 15 or 25 years.
Calvados is governed by an 'appellation contrôlée' system, which
defines the regions where calvados can be produced; the varieties of apples
used; the type of pressing and fermentation; and the distillation and the
maturation. There are three Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée for
Calvados ; the basic 'AOC Calvados' accounts for over 70 percent of the
total production, prescribes a minimum of two years ageing in oak barrels
and distillation in single column stills.
The 'AOC Calvados Pays d'Auge' is the highest quality appellation, that
includes all basic rules for AOC Calvados along with several additional
requirements, among others a minimum of six weeks fermentation of the cider and
double distillation in an alembic still. Finally, 'AOC Calvados
Domfrontais', a much fruitier and subtler style which is made of at least
30 percent pears. The appellation was created in 1997 in order to accommodate
the long tradition of pear orchards in the region.
Berry Bros. and Rudd lists Calvados from Domaine du
Coquerel and Christian Drouin's Coeur de Lion.