Calvados Adrien Camut
The Domaine de Semainville
A highly-respected grower with one of the best collections of old Calvados around, normally showing notes of baked apples and licorice.
Since the 1800s, the Camut family has grown 115 acres of apple trees in the Pays d'Auge, the finest growing region for Calvados. In Normandy, 800 types of apples are grown; the Camut family grow about 25 of these, all of which are hand-harvested at optimum maturity between October and mid-December. While pears are allowed in Calvados (actually mandatory in the Domfrontais region with a minimum of 30%), only apples grown on the Camut property are used in Camut Calvados.
Cider is made from these apples and rests in oak barrels for ten or eleven months. In September, the cider is double-distilled with two of the property's wood-fueled stills, one of which is 75 years old. It enters the barrels at 126 proof, then is reduced by about 20 proof. During the first two years, the Calvados is frequently transferred between barrels in an effort to promote oxidation. No new barrels are used; most have their origin in Limousin and average 50 years of age.
The various apple types on the Camut property
For its third birthday, the Calvados is placed in large wooden vats or foudre. These are always kept between 2/3 and 3/4 full which allows for a constant exchange of oxygen and gradual reduction and concentration of the apple brandy. The blends are as natural as possible: Time alone has mellowed these rich, lush spirits.
Pommeau de Semainville
Pommeau is the Normand equivalent of Pineau des Charentes. Unlike Pineau which is made with 2/3 grape juice and a third cognac, Pommeau is made with 2/3 apple juice and a 1/3 Calvados (4 year old). 2001 is the first year that Camut has released his Aperitif Normand and a total of 15 cases have arrived on US soil.
Typically Pommeau is served as an aperitif, but with its baked apple, smoke, licorice and toffee notes, it is also an excellent accompaniment to apple, nut or caramel- based desserts. At 17% alcohol (34 proof), one does not have to think twice about having it as an after-dinner drink. Camut's Pommeau is made with juice from 25 different types of apples, all of which are grown in the family's orchards.
6 Year Old (86 proof)
- Aromas of green apple and caramel.
- Impressive viscosity for a relatively young (hors d'age) spirit.
- Long finish reminiscent of initial aromas.
12 Year Old (82 proof)
- Forward aromas of baked apple, honey, cream, spice.
- Layered notes of smoky green apple in mouth.
- Displays plenty of depth for its relatively young age.
- Long, pure finish.
18-Year-Old (82 proof)
- Melted toffee along with subdued notes of spiced apple and honey.
- Lovely round mouthfeel, with just a finishing touch of smoke and floral notes.
Reserve de Semainville
A blend of 25-30 year old Calvados, 80 proof
- Deep Amber.
- Refined, rich, sweet nose of baked apples, melted toffee, honey and a hint of tobacco.
- Plenty of bright apple fruit in the mouth with a finishing note of cigar spice and almond.
A superb nose of mirabelle plum characterizes the lovely eau de vie from this beautiful domaine. Rich nose, a silky mouthfeel and phenomenal length. Great!
— Revue de Vin de France
A blend of 35-40 year old Calvados, 80 proof
- Deep Amber.
- Hint of walnut (rancio) on nose.
- Rich and round apple notes in total harmony with alcohol and tannin.
- Creamy texture allows waves of developed vanilla to glide across the palate.
- Finishes with hints of cigar spice and a touch of orange.
- Lovely fond-de-verre.
Complex, long and perfectly balanced. A perfect partner for a robust cigar.
— L'Amateur de Cigare
40-50 years old, 40 proof
- Deep Amber.
- Tremendous legs: nutty vanilla on the nose.
- Deep notes of preserved, baked apple, smoke, and prune.
- Impeccably balanced, earthy complexity.
- Long, pure finish.
One of the stills at the Domaine de Semainville
Jean-Gabriel and Emmanuel Camut
Jean-Gabriel and Claude Camut, Summer 1998
Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy
Calvados is an astounding 700-page stroll through the history and culture of Normandy and Calvados producers, through orchards and cellars, down to seemingly esoteric details, like what a producer might have scribbled in chalk on a typical barrel.
— Eric Asimov, New York Times
Neal explains the varieties of apples (or pears) used, how the fruit is picked, made into cider, and then distilled and aged. But more importantly, how to taste and appreciate this unique spirit.
— S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
...an essential reference on an underappreciated topic.
— Jon Bonné, San Francisco Chronicle
Also by Charles Neal:
Armagnac: The Definitive Guide to France's Premier Brandy