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French Cider

Charchigné, France
Eric Bordelet, former sommelier at the three-star Arpège in Paris, is raising cider to the level of fine wine at his estate in this tiny town, 120 miles west of the capital. Inspired by his friend and mentor, the brilliant Pouilly-sur-Loire winemaker Didier Dagueneau, Bordelet has been applying winemaking techniques to cider production with brilliant results. Just as the most complex wines come from old vines, so does Bordelet cider come from old trees, for instance heirloom varietal apple trees 40 to 50 years old. Like a winemaker, Bordelet ferments the cider to different levels of dryness, producing brut (bone dry) or doux (slightly sweet) bottlings, both slightly pétillant, or fizzy. Either makes a fine apéritif, but they also go beautifully with food, from fish to white meats. The apex of Bordelet's portfolio is a pair of special cuvées, Sydre Argelette (apple) and Poiré Granite, produced from 300-year-old pear trees. The latter has a fine, lacy texture and the finish of a Grand Cru. Imported by Beaune Imports, Berkeley, CA; 510-841-9815; fax 510-841-9816.

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