Calvados, the noble spirit that captures the essence of fresh apples, is produced only in the Normandy region in France. Drawing from the optimal climate and soil, the central and best portion of the Calvados region is the Pays d’Auge, in the heart of Normandy, which since 1942 has had its own appellation contrôlée. The DROUIN family has been producing Calvados for generations; their Marquis de Saint-Loup label has fetched more than 390 medals and Certificates of Merit in different competitions.
The Marquis de Saint-Loup, a character in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, was fond of the Pays d’Auge and his personality evokes many aspects of Normandy. His name is now associated with one of the finest Calvados of the Pays d’Auge. In view of the Marquis’ contribution to the area’s history, Christian Drouin decided to use this label when he purchased a distillery at Gonnevile-sur-Honfleur in the heart of the Pays d’Auge. From 1960 to 1979 Gonneville was the production center, and stocks were supplemented by mature Calvados bought from local farms in the Pays d’Auge. By 1992 the firm had outgrown the space in Gonneville and moved to larger facilities in Coudray-Rabut, on the road from Pont-L’Eveque to Deauville.
The estate now covers some 22 hectares; the average age of the orchard is 20 years. Several local farms also supply cider apples. More than 15 different apple varieties are used, including 70% bitter-sweet apples, 20% sweet apples and 10% acid varieties. They are all traditional varieties (Bisquet, Bedan, Petit-Joly, St. Martin, etc.), harvested when fully ripe and late-mashed: they produce an excellent cider. Apples are only pressed once, and only the first pressing is used. The cider is not distilled immediately after fermentation, but left to mature for several months in oak barrels. The cider is then distilled twice, in the same type of pot stills used for Cognac, with elimination of the heads and tails. Aging takes place in small oak casks, generally from Sherry and Port producers, since these have lost their extracts while maturing wines.
Unlike the largest Calvados firms, which concentrate on the basic grades such as VS and VSOP, the Marquis de Saint-Loup offers a full range of Calvados culminating with the ultimate quality grade: true vintage Calvados. Each vintage is a magnificent expression of apple essences captured in a glass, its luxurious qualities assisted by slow maturation in cask. A vintage Calvados not only makes a statement about the growing season in which it was made, it makes a statement about the producer, Christian Drouin, whose handcrafted products not only enhance the quality of Norman cuisine, they enhance the quality of life. Enjoy Calvados with cocktails, with cooking, with cheeses, or as an unparalleled after-dinner drink