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Calvados an Apple a Day in Drink Form
by Darryl Beeson ( travels the world looking for great wine finds ) from www.californiawineandfood.com

Calvados is distilled from apple cider and then aged in oak barrels. It has brandy's warmth and color but with a fruitier less sharp approach. Forty million bottles of Cognac are sold each year in the U.S. , but we only go through 200,000 bottles of Calvados. Amazingly, 16 pounds of apples go into each bottle of Calvados, an orchard of flavor in every sip. The soft apple element in the flavor profile makes Calvados a refreshing, warm weather alternative to the more assertive Cognac . Note that Calvados is in no way sweet.

Although cider apples have been grown in Normandy since Celtic and Roman times (there are over 9 million cider apple trees in Normandy today), Calvados gained recognition in 1553, when the cider was first distilled to produce eau-de-vie, or brandy. In 1942, Calvados was awarded recognition and a title, the designation of certified origin (AOC).

Calvados is mainly produced using a column still, and aged in very dry oak casks. The oak contact allows the Calvados to develop its full flavor, and the oak's tannins give the spirit its amber color full-bodied structure. Over 10 million bottles of Calvados are sold every year.

One of the oldest Calvados producers, Busnel Calvados has been produced at the Distillerie Busnel in the famed Pays d'Auge region of Normandy since 1820. Busnel uses sixteen pounds of apples per bottle and over 20 apple varieties to create Calvados vintages, which are dated and indicate the Calvados has been produced from a single distillation, and blends, which mark on the bottle the age of the youngest Calvados used in the blend. Three blends from Busnel Calvados are offered in America , which differ by aging time: Fine (SRP: $24.99; aged for at least 2 years in oak), Vieille Reserve VSOP (SRP: $32.99; aged for at least 4 years), and Hors d'Age (SRP: $49.99; aged for at least 12 years). Busnel Calvados can be enjoyed as an aperitif, in a cocktail, or on the rocks or neat as a digestif (after-dinner drink).

Embraced for its distinctive apple flavor and smoothness, this versatile spirit adds flair to fine cuisine and creative cocktails. A perfect complement for poultry or pork recipes, the spirit also enhances apple and pear desserts, naturellement . Calvados can be sipped neat as a digestif, as an aperitif,
with ginger ale or tonic on the rocks, and is sure to add a delicious new twist to classic cocktails.

Some popular Calvados cocktail recipes;

Busnel Sidecar
2 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Busnel Fine or Busnel VSOP Calvados Splash of Cointreau
Fresh Lemon Sour
Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice; shake till very cold, and pour into a sugar-rimmed martini glass.

The Normandy Dream
1 ? oz. VSOP Calvados
? oz. Cointreau
? oz. Passoa (Passion Fruit Liqueur)
? oz. Orange Juice
Mix above ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with an orange twist.

The Calvados Rose
3 dashes grenadine Juice of half a lemon
Glass of VSOP Calvados
Mix above ingredients in a chilled cocktail shaker. Serve in a rocks glass over ice.

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