Cyril Zangs had planned to be a winemaker, and he even left Normandy to learn the trade. But he was tempted back by the work of François “the Pope of Cider” David. Zangs was to become a cider-maker, just as his grandfather once was. David helped Zangs to learn the art of the craft, but soon Zangs was progressing in his own direction – making dry and sparkling ciders that would impress drinkers all around the world.
Zangs’s orchard in Glos, Normandy, overlooks the North Sea. It contains 69 varieties of apple tree, grown without intrusive chemical treatments, all between about 15 and 60 years old. These varieties are measured by sweetness: sweet, bittersweet, bitter, sour and tart. Only the best apples are picked, by hand, with up to 10 per cent not making it further than the orchard. This takes place in early October to mid-December. After picking, they are left to ripen for up to six weeks, and carefully cleaned so as not to remove the indigenous yeast on their skins, which is the key to their fermentation.
After pressing and the first stage of fermentation, they are bottled and stocked horizontally, and turned by hand regularly for up to three months. All this is done without adding sulphites or additional yeast, and without filtering. For those of us with self-control, these ciders can be kept in a cellar for several years.
* Listen to Cyril Zangs's podcast on Interpreting wine, by Lawrence Francis
The result is a complex cider quite unique for Normandy. Perfect as an aperitif or alongside a meal.