French Cider includes Normandy styles plus ciders inspired by those styles, including ciders made by various techniques to achieve the French flavor profile. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bitter-sharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making.
Traditional French procedures use small amounts of salt and calcium compounds (calcium chloride, calcium carbonate) to aid the process of pectin coagulation. These compounds may be used, pre-fermentation, but in limited quantity. It is a fault if judges can detect a salty or chalky taste. The enzyme PME (pectin methyl esterase) may also be used pre-fermentation for pectin coagulation.
Note that the sweetness/gravity levels indicate an overall tendency, not a sharp delineation between English and French ciders.
Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich.
Clear to brilliant, medium yellow to amber color.
Aroma / Flavor
Fruity character/aroma. This may come from slow or arrested fermentation (in the French technique of défécation) or approximated by back-sweetening with juice. Tends to a rich fullness. MLF notes of spicy-smoky, phenolic, and farmyard are common but not required (just as with English style), and must not be pronounced. The French expect more subtle MLF character than do the English.
Medium to full, mouth-filling. Moderate tannin, perceived mainly as astringency. Carbonation moderate to champagne-like, but at higher levels it must not gush or foam.
Apple Varieties: Nehou, Muscadet de Dieppe, Reine des Pommes, Michelin, etc.
Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (3 levels). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (medium to sweet only, 3 levels). Entrants MAY specify variety of apple for a single varietal cider; if specified, varietal character will be expected.
1.050 - 1.065
1.010 - 1.020
3% - 6%
Typically made sweet to balance the tannin levels from the traditional apple varieties.