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Calvados: Newton’s Conundrum
If a young Isaac Newton had been sitting beneath one of Christian Drouin’s apple trees, the fateful collision from above would have led to quite a different result. The rogue apple, encased in a decanter bottle, would have caused a concussion much sooner than the discovery of gravity.
Fanciful daydreams aside, Drouin’s Pomme Prisonniere is quite literally an imprisoned apple. The fruit is grown from bud to ripeness in a personalised glasshouse before being picked and essentially pickled in Calvados.
‘What is a Calvados?’ I hear from the rearmost seats. Calvados is an apple brandy produced in the Normandy region of France. Protected by its own AOC Calvados or ‘Appellation d’Origine Controlee’, it can only be produced within defined geographic boundaries to the prescribed process, including a minimum of 2 years spent aging in oak casks. Over 200 varieties of apples are able to be used; often a large selection of these are chosen for their sweet, tart or bitter characteristics, with up to, or beyond, 100 specific varieties chosen in the production of some Calvados.
Essentially a distilled cider, the quality of a Calvados can be revealed by indicators on the bottle, starting with “Fine”, requiring a minimum of two years aging; “Vieux” or “Reserve” with a minimum of 3 years aging; “VSOP” (meaning Very Special Old Pale) with a minimum of 4 years aging; and “XO’ (Extra Old) or “Hors d’Age” indicating a Calvados aged for at least 6 years in cask.
The ‘Pomme Prisonniere’ is encased in Hors d’Age Calvados, and, so long as the apple remains fully submerged, can remain in the bottle. Simply top up the bottle with Christian Drouin Hors d’Age and it will last a lifetime. Now, if only Isaac Newton had devised a simple and effective way to release the apple from its prison.