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Kerveguen is a unique microproduction cidery with seven hectares of orchards in Brittany run by Eric Baron. The ciders are certified organic and made “a l’ancienne” or in the old tradition. To get the very best apples, they harvest from October to December and only collect by hand the freshly fallen apples off of the ground at their optimal ripeness. Unlike other cider makers, they do not go through the orchards and shake the trees to force the apples to fall and collect with machines.
Next the apples are washed and then left to air dry in the cellar for one and a half to three months. Most cider makers wash the apples and press them right away. There are some others who air dry the apples, but at most up to two weeks. Kerveguen chooses to let the apples air dry in a cool cellar to develop the concentration of aromas, to allow the apple to mature fully (it continues to ripen after falling from the tree), to get a natural concentration of sugar, and to reduce the amount of water in the apple. Air-drying allows richer, deeper and more complex flavors in the finished cider. Each apple variety is stacked separately as they evolve differently.
Next the apples are pressed by a vertical Champagne press and the juice goes into tanks. Fermentation starts spontaneously and lasts four to eight months. The solid pieces (pulp, seed and skin) float to the top and form what they call, a "brown hat"; this cap is important, as it protects the cider from oxidation. The clear, free run juice is taken from the bottom of the tank and the ciders are fermented and aged in 400L barrels on the lees. Eric likes to use 3-4 year-old barrels and normally buys from Burgundy. To his knowledge, there isn’t anyone else aging ciders in barrel in Brittany anymore.
After four to eight months in barrel, he uses a low amount of sulfur and bottles the ciders. The fermentation finishes in bottle, giving a fine mousse. The cider is not disgorged and so there may be a slight variation of sparkling mousse from bottle to bottle. These are some of the most exciting natural ciders from Brittany!