|Esprit de Famille – (Spirit of Family)
Company Founded in 1825 by
Son of Pierre-Auguste
Grandson of Pierre-Auguste
Great Grandson of Pierre-Auguste
Great Great Grandson of Pierre-Auguste
Calvados Boulard has been a family business for over 170 years. From Pierre-Auguste, the founder, five generations followed each other at the head of the company, which has gained an international reputation, each adding his personal touch. This close, powerful, and long-lasting bond makes the Boulard family one of the few to include both men and fruit in its family tree…
At the Beginning, The Apple
Or rather, the apples! To produce its Calvados, the Company Boulard selects 120 varieties of apple out of the existing 800. An extremely rigorous discipline: The Cider Fruit Committee recommends using 48!
In the heart of the Pays d’Auge, we find the 35,000 trees of the Boulard apple orchard. Unique in its type, this immense orchard is carefully nurtured by the Company, thereby controlling both the quality and the quantity of the supply.
To give it Calvados the full body of its bouquet, Boulard selects, in highly secret proportions, amongst four major families of cider apples: the bitter, for the structure, the balance and the harmony, the sweet, rich in sugar, which give the alcohol content (Doux Normandie, Clos Renaux, Doux Verret de Carrouge, etc.), the bitter-sweet, rich in tannin, they form the base of the production (Bedan, Bisquet, Saint-Martin, Argile Rouge, Peau de Chien, etc.), and lastly the slightly acid, for their freshness and balance (Avrolles, Petit Jaune, Rambault, René Martin, etc.)
The Supremacy of the Pays D’Auge Guaranteed Vintage
Unlike some spirits for which the origin of the raw material is governed by its price, the Calvados Pay d’Auge controlled vintage brandy is only produced with apples grown in the Pays d’Auge. This is one of the conditions for its approval. A proof of its excellence as well, since the reputation of the quality of apples from the Pays d’Auge is well-established, and the small size of the region, constantly checked, further emphasizes the rarity. Moreover, cider production and double distillation must be carried out within the geographical limits of the Pays d’Auge to receive the AOC controlled vintage label.
Family secrets (or how to produce a fine Calvados)
After the autumn harvest, the apples, especially selected for and by the Company Boulard are sent to the cider works at Pont l’Evêque. A strategic link in the production of its Calvados, the cider works was purchased by Boulard to increase the control over the production. So, from the orchard to the bottle, every link in the production chain is entirely under the family’s control. Washed, crushed, then pressed, the rich harvest from the Pays Auge will offer a juice already full of unique flavours: the must, which will then ferment naturally in tanks from 1 to 3 months. After this period, dedicated to its aromatic enrichment, the cider is ready for distillation. Although apparently simple, this phase is nevertheless vital: the heredity of a “noble” cider is the secret of an exceptional Calvados.
At the start of the following year, the Company Boulard turn its attention to the Moulin de la Foulonnerie where the 8 copper double stills are waiting impatiently for the distillation stage. As delicate as it is ancestral, the process, coded in an extremely strict regulation, consists of heating the cider to extract the aromatic part. Then the vapour collected previously is condensed to produce the brandy, which becomes Calvados after approval by an expert tasting committee, controlled by the INAO-Institute.
Double distillation consists of two successive heating stages over direct flame: the first gives the “petite eau” and the second, the “bonne chauffe”. During the second distillation, the distiller will display all his talents in the total elimination of the “heads” and “tails” of the distillates, retaining only the “heart”, the supreme goal for a top quality Calvados. For a single bottle of Boulard Calvados, you need 10 to 11 litres of cider, i.e. 12 kilos of apples and . . . lots of patience: double distillation lasts for about eighteen hours. The Calvados Pays d’Auge controlled vintage label is reserved for a very select few …
On leaving the still, the Calvados has a titre of 68% to 72% alcohol. Too strong to be commercialized, its degree of alcohol will drop progressively during the maturing process to between 40% and 45%. A slow and meticulous maturing process starts in oak casks, where the wood tannins will gradually blend with the fruity aromas of the Calvados, subtly producing its golden and amber colour. Hidden away from all but the store master, this natural alchemy works its spell, lasting up to 40 years. On reaching its point of perfection, a Boulard Calvados can be recognized through the fineness and fullness of taste where the richness implied by the individual aromas blends harmoniously.
The Store Master … & The Marriages or Blending’s
One-man-band playing a mysterious symphony, he tunes the countless aromatic notes contained in the oak casks to the Boulard taste tuning fork. Tending carefully to the latecomers, slowing down the swiftest, the Master here for nearly twenty years is Réne Maingot. His talent? “Transmit the ‘Boulard style’ preserved in spite of ever-changing bases”. He knows the typicality of more than twenty products like the back of his hand: young, vintage, hors d’âge brandies . . . His know-how? Cut, blend, taste, try, monitor all his precious “essences” to obtain the perfect harmony which is the signature of the Company. At the time, it was Pierre Boulard who had the flair to discover Réne Maingot, for his “fine palate”. The INAO-Institute officialised this special gift by appointing him expert-taster, “a plus over the other store masters”, he emphasizes. Additional tests also reveal his especially valorising “standard” taste – neither too critical, nor not critical enough. However, in spite of this string of compliments, he does not forget his doubts and concerns, the travelling companions of a store master. With his pipettes, slates and other samples, Réne continues to satisfy a clientele fond of this Calvados Pays d’Auge, with its subtle and harmonious fragrance, a unique mixture of fruits and vanilla, brilliant, golden, and clear.
Behind the Label
There hides an elixir whose unlabelled bottle cannot reveal its unique content to the taster. Here again, the form and substance are in-dissociable from each other. Hence the importance given to the choice of label, first messenger of the (good) Boulard taste. Compulsory text, customary indications, and the graphical trends have finally been formalized after numerous evolutions.
Ways and Customs … or how to appreciate a Boulard Calvados
From The Originality Of A Marriage To The Unexpected Taste – Marc Jean, head barman of the hotel Normandy at Deauville
Following The Tradition Of Pure Taste – Vincent Boulard, director of Calvados Boulard
Pommeau, Calvados, and champagne are the ingredients of the “Normandy”, the most famous and most highly esteemed cocktail in the famous Norman palace bearing its name. “Like the Jack Rose (Calvados, lemon, grenadine), which also has its enthusiasts, these cocktails were created by a team”, explains the head barman. Of Norman origin, he does not hide his pleasure when explaining to his clientele how to produce and appreciate a Calvados Pays d”Auge. Deeply attached to ancestral family values, Vincent Boulard sees himself quite naturally drinking a Millésimé after lunch or dinner, with no other accompaniment than a few friends.
“Reflexes are largely governed by the geographical situation. Everything is green here, we are surrounded with distilleries. We have a role to play by initiating, naturally, rightly and logically starting with a young Calvados, mild with its accentuated aromas. The split between men and women is also disappearing in this area: ladies like to drink a “baby” (2 cl). Over the last few years, this product has become much more popular. I can’t remember exactly when I first tasted Calvados, but my father had detected very early on my clear taste for what has become my greatest passion. It is true that still today; I like to discover all the fragrances, all the aromas of a good Calvados, straight. But whether or not the purist like it, since the start of the nineties, consumer modes are, fortunately, open to the surprising creativity of wine waiters, barmen and restaurant managers, who we are glad and proud to support. In cocktails, on the rocks, with tonic or to flavour certain dishes, I am forever delighted to see the seductive talents displayed by our Company.”