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Calvados

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 cider.

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.